2-3 year Full Time PhD bursary

Applications are invited for PhD candidates to join the SANBI Biodiversity Research, Assessment and Monitoring Division to support research under Work package 4 Benthic Mapping of the Mission Atlantic Project. The bursary will cover three years or less if there are suitable existing candidates who have made progress on their post graduate studies in this context. The student must register at a South African University and must be supervised or co-supervised by Prof Kerry Sink from SANBI. Collaboration with other institutes in the Mission Atlantic work packages are also encouraged. These include Prof Kerry Howell (Plymouth University, UK), Pal Buhl Mortensen (Institute for Marine Research, Norway) and Thomas Furey (Marine Institute, Ireland).

Requirements: Candidates must qualify for a PhD in the field of marine biodiversity with a willingness to focus on Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VME’s).

A PhD proposal must be developed that will help advance the knowledge base and methodology for the identification, classification, mapping, modelling and management of VME’s in South Africa. The candidate must be familiar with the FAO guidelines for VMEs, the scientific literature in this context and the research to inform management measures (such as move on rules). A willingness to engage in habitat suitability modelling in a local and international context is essential. Knowledge of the local context in terms of potential VME indicators and eco-certification application is an advantage. Experience in analysis in Remotely Operated Vehicle footage is also an added advantage.

The bursary is open to South African students who qualify to register for a PhD at a South African University.

Applicants must be able to demonstrate an ability to undertake research and synthesise literature and potential data sources through demonstrated research outputs and proposals.

Research Areas:

The aim of this PhD bursary is to develop local capacity in the identification, classification, mapping, modelling and management of VME’s. This should benefit South Africa but may also support regional Fisheries Management Organisations such as the South East Atlantic Fisheries Organisation. The successful candidate should develop international collaborations through opportunities provided by the Mission Atlantic consortium.

Mission Atlantic is an international interdisciplinary project funded though the European Commission, Horizon 2020: Research and Innovation Framework Programme. The objectives of the Mission Atlantic project are: 1)  to assess ecosystem status and resilience, 2) to map the present and establish the future three dimensional distributions of biomes and their pressures, 3) to develop new indicators, tools and technologies to identify risks and vulnerabilities in the marine environment, 4) to formulate and transfer assessment guidelines, data and modelling tools into ecosystem-based management procedures, and 5) to educate ocean resource managers and researchers in application of a systematic approach to ecosystem management. See here.

Within the Mission Atlantic Project, SANBI’s marine programme is seeking to support a PhD student to contribute to Work Package 4: Benthic Mapping: ecosystem resources and pressures. The goal of this work package is to generate new maps of seafloor characteristics, benthic communities, and VMEs to enable Integrated Ecosystem Assessment (IEA) in case studies (including South Africa) and at the Atlantic basin scale. Relevant objectives include the modelling of spatial distribution of benthic communities and VMEs under present and future environmental regimes to underpin Atlantic basin scale and case study IEAs and identification of key natural environmental drivers and anthropogenic pressures and their impact on the spatial distribution of benthic communities and VMEs.

The PhD student may also support work being undertaken under work package 1 (Ocean Integrated Ecosystem Assessment) with a focus on VMEs, work package 7 (Risk Assessment and uncertainties in the context of VMEs) and work package 9 (Societal engagement) of the Mission Atlantic Project.

Bursary value: A bursary of R 180 000 per annum is available over a two to three year period. Some running expenses may also be made available should the PhD proposal motivate well for such work in alignment with the Mission Atlantic goals.

Application procedure: Each application is to be accompanied by a standard bursary application cover sheet (click here). Applications are to include: a full CV that shows the applicant’s educational background, relevant research experience and outputs and other scholarly activities, two letters of reference (one must be from an academic supervisor), certified copy of academic marks for courses studied, certified copy of highest qualification, and a 5-7-page outline of a draft PhD proposal.

Send all documents to students@sanbi.org.za with “SANBI Marine Programme doctoral bursary” in the subject line.

Contact details

Applications close:  22 October 2021, and the successful candidate will be notified by 29 October 2021.

SANBI reserves the right not to fill this fellowship. If no response has been received within 21 days of the closing date, candidates may assume that their applications were unsuccessful.

Closes: Friday, 22 October 2021
Location: Cape Town

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