PhD opportunities for 2018 are now open

Search this page

Applications for the main DTP/CDT studentships (for October 2018 entry) are now closed. However from time to time we do have extra non-DTP/CDT opportunities. We will list these below as they become available.

PhD opportunities at the Lyell Centre (Heriot-Watt University and British Geological Survey)

Groundwater
Coupled Isotopic insights into changing groundwater resources in East Africa: ancient-to-modern and future

BGS supervisor: Prof Alan MacDonald

University supervisor: Dr Clayton Magill , Heriot-Watt University

DTP: Non-DTP

DTP project details: https://www.hw.ac.uk/schools/energy-geoscience-infrastructure-society/postgraduate-research/funded-phd-opportunities.htm

Physical landscape characteristics can induce strong variations on environmental conditions, such as vegetation cover, water availability and temperature. Geological archives often capture respective variations with the molecular remains of flora and microorganisms – so-called biomarkers – that pass from source to sediment through the Earth system via water or wind. Not only do biomarkers resolve the occurrence of different biomass source(s) during past times, they also encode molecular isotopic signatures that support quantitative ecohydrological reconstructions, even millions of years ago. There is also large potential by coupling δ2H–δ18O hydrological reconstructions to track hydrology processes, including recharge or evaporative enrichment through time.

You will join the Lyell Centre, a research focussed centre of the British Geological Survey (BGS) and HWU in Edinburgh, Scotland (www.lyellcentre.ac.uk). You will engage in a multi-proxy project with external research at NERC/SUERC Radiocarbon facilities at East Kilbride that focuses on understanding groundwater dynamics in East Africa via complementary geochemical (biomarker) and dual-isotopic analyses of the region's contemporary groundwater, vegetation, and freshwater carbonate. Respective "modern" signatures will be used to construct an interpretive framework for reconstructing patterns in regional hydrologic change, especially groundwater recharge, amid human evolutionary junctures and the emergence of direct human ancestors (Homo erectus), about 2 million years ago.

This project has an ambitious scope, providing potential for important breakthroughs in developing quantitative maps of African water resources and the influence of these resources during past human evolutionary junctures.

Funding

This is a full scholarship which will cover full tuition fees and provide an annual stipend of £14,777.

Eligibility

This project is available to ALL students, whether home, EU or overseas. The successful candidate should have a strong interest in applied research and biogeochemistry, and possess at minimum a masters and undergraduate degree in geography, earth sciences, hydrology or a similar field. Organic geochemistry skills are an essential requirement of this project, whilst some experience in hydrology and good fieldwork skills is highly desirable. Experience working in industry is an advantage but not a necessity.

How to apply

Please complete Heriot-Watt University online application form. Please select PhD programme Geoscience and include the project reference, title and supervisor on your application. Please also provide a supporting statement, a CV, a copy of your degree certificates and relevant detailed transcripts and at least one academic or technical reference. You must also provide proof of your ability in the English language (if English is not your mother tongue or if you have not already studied for a degree that was taught in English). We require an IELTS certificate showing an overall score of at least 6.5 with no component scoring less than 6.0 or a TOEFL certificate with a minimum score of 90 points.

Further information: Please contact Dr Clayton Magill or Prof Alan MacDonald for informal information.

Application deadline: The closing date for applications is 15 May 2018. Applicants must be available to start the PhD by September 2018.

Innovative Technologies to tackle grand water challenges: constraining the global CO2 flux between atmospheric and water stores

BGS supervisor: Prof Alan MacDonald

University supervisor: Dr Ryan Pereira, Heriot-Watt University

DTP: Non-DTP

DTP project details: https://www.hw.ac.uk/schools/energy-geoscience-infrastructure-society/postgraduate-research/funded-phd-opportunities.htm

The uncertainty in the magnitude and direction of the current and future global CO2 sink critically depends on improving our understanding of the gas transfer of climate active gases across the air-water interface, both on land and in the ocean. Recent estimates suggest that inland waters are a net source of CO2, releasing up to ˜2.1 Petagrams of carbon (Pg C) per year, while the global ocean is a net sink with an estimated ˜5.2 Pg C per year. These estimates are not well constrained and fundamentally hampered by a lack of reliable measurements of pCO2 and gas transfer velocities (kw). Direct pCO2 measurements remain scarce so pCO2 is typically calculated from proxy variables, such as temperature, pH and total alkalinity. However, there is considerable uncertainty where there is a large contribution of organic acids and reduced buffering capacity in lower pH environments. The key to better understand and quantify these effects is kw. This variable cannot be measured directly and is typically parameterized using wind speed or river scaling laws. However, non-linear, highly divergent relations result as both variables are weak kw predictors. A targeted approach is therefore required to advance novel in-situ technologies to produce high temporally resolved data to estimate kw for a given space and time.

You will join the Lyell Centre, a research focussed centre of the British Geological Survey (BGS) and HWU in Edinburgh, Scotland. You will develop innovative sensor applications for in-situ CO2 measurements and couple this with sophisticated laboratory-based measurements of dissolved organic matter (DOM) concentration and composition from fresh and marine waters to identify the key drivers of fluctuations of air-water CO2 gas exchange. You must be competent in computer programming languages (C++, Matlab, R), familiar with Labview, have a hands-on approach with electronics, and a strong interest in the environment.

Funding

This is a full scholarship which will cover full tuition fees and provide an annual stipend of £14,777.

Eligibility

This project is available to ALL students, whether home, EU or overseas. The successful candidate should have a strong interest in applied research and possess at minimum a masters and undergraduate degree in geography, earth sciences, computing or a similar field. Programming skills are an essential requirement of this project, whilst some experience of organic geochemistry is also desirable. Experience working in industry is an advantage but not a necessity.

How to apply

Please complete Heriot-Watt University online application form. Please select PhD programme Geoscience and include the project reference, title and supervisor on your application. Please also provide a supporting statement, a CV, a copy of your degree certificates and relevant detailed transcripts and at least one academic or technical reference. You must also provide proof of your ability in the English language (if English is not your mother tongue or if you have not already studied for a degree that was taught in English). We require an IELTS certificate showing an overall score of at least 6.5 with no component scoring less than 6.0 or a TOEFL certificate with a minimum score of 90 points.

Further information: Please contact Prof Alan MacDonald or Dr Ryan Pereira for informal information.

Application deadline: The closing date for applications is 15 May 2018. Applicants must be available to start the PhD by September 2018.

Earth Hazards and observatories
Using operational aviation data for understanding global rates of volcanism

BGS Supervisor: Prof Gabriel Lord and Prof Gavin Gibson, Heriot-Watt University

University Supervisor: Prof. Andy Binley

DTP: Non-DTP

DTP project details: https://www.hw.ac.uk/schools/energy-geoscience-infrastructure-society/postgraduate-research/funded-phd-opportunities.htm

Project description

Understanding volcanic eruptive behaviour is critical to managing risk to populations, infrastructure, critical systems and economy. The ash injected into and dispersed through the atmosphere during an explosive volcanic eruption has the potential to affect entire continents, with cascading secondary global impacts. Short-term forecasting of the onset of volcanic eruptions, changes during eruptions and volcanic hazards is possible due to diverse streams of monitoring data interpreted, modelled and reported by volcano monitoring institutions. This information is utilised by volcanic ash advisory centres (VAACs) to initiate numerical models to forecast the spread of volcanic ash in the atmosphere, and provide advisories to the aviation industry detailing affected areas. The project will use information contained within ash advisories, to develop novel statistical methodologies and tools, building on time series analysis, stochastic modelling, statistical pattern analysis and machine learning methods, to identify and understand patterns in eruptive behaviour both globally and on a volcano-by-volcano basis. Insights gained from analysis of the advisories will be compared to other streams of information (e.g. geological and observational data) to relate results to the physical processes governing eruptions.

Despite dissemination since the early 1990s these data have never been gathered and analysed within a research context as, until now, they have largely been considered only for operational purposes. However, analysis of these data, and their uncertainties, will help understand trends in volcanic behaviour and refine key inputs required for numerical modelling of ash dispersal and forecasting– key information required by the VAACs (Engwell et al. 2016). The proposed PhD project will directly address this need and we invite applications from suitably qualified candidates.

The successful candidate will join the British Geological Survey volcanology team of eight researchers based at the Lyell Centre. For more information on our activities please visit our website: http://www.bgs.ac.uk/research/volcanoes/home.html.

The PhD project is supervised by a multi-disciplinary team comprised of Dr Sam Engwell at the BGS, and Prof Gabriel Lord and Prof Gavin Gibson from the Heriot-Watt University’s Maxwell Institute for Mathematical Sciences.

Funding

This is a full scholarship which will cover full tuition fees and provide an annual stipend of approximately £14,777.

Eligibility

This project is available to ALL students, whether home, EU or overseas. The successful candidate will preferably possess a masters and undergraduate degree in mathematics, statistics, engineering, physics, or earth sciences with a strong background in statistics and an interest in geological problems and hazards. Formally four years of university study including a minimum of one year at an advanced level are required.

How to apply

Please complete Heriot-Watt University online application form. Please select PhD programme Geoscience and include the project reference, title and supervisor on your application. Please also provide a supporting statement, a CV, a copy of your degree certificates and relevant detailed transcripts and at least one academic or technical reference. You must also provide proof of your ability in the English language (if English is not your mother tongue or if you have not already studied for a degree that was taught in English). We require an IELTS certificate showing an overall score of at least 6.5 with no component scoring less than 6.0 or a TOEFL certificate with a minimum score of 90 points.

Further information: Please contact Dr Sam Engwell for further information.

Application deadline: The closing date for applications is 15 May 2018. Applicants must be available to start the PhD by Oct 2018.