Kirstenbosch Research Centre, Newlands, Cape Town

Applications are invited for one postdoctoral fellow to join the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) Biodiversity Research, Assessment and Monitoring Division to support research under the Mission Atlantic Project. The fellowship will commence in May 2021 for the duration of one year on a full-time basis. The fellowship will be hosted by the University of Cape Town, under the supervision of Dr Lynne Shannon and co-supervision of Prof Kerry Sink from SANBI.


Candidates must be independent and productive and have a PhD (at least submitted if not awarded) that is related to the assessment of marine ecosystem condition and/or ecosystem threat status. The postdoctoral fellowship is open to anyone who has completed their PhD in the last five years.

Applicants must be able to contribute data and knowledge to ground-truth marine ecosystem condition in South African waters, must have demonstrated experience in the South African National Biodiversity Assessment (NBA) and must be familiar with integrated ecosystem assessment and analyses to identify ecosystem tipping points.

Applicants must be able to demonstrate an ability to undertake research through demonstrated publications, synthesise literature and data sources, and find scientific evidence to formulate defendable recommendations. Applicants must have competency in R-statistical software and demonstrated experience in conducting spatial analysis of ecological data. Candidates should also possess strong organisational and communication skills.

Research areas  

The aim of this postdoctoral fellowship is to support the Mission Atlantic Project and the South African National Biodiversity Assessment. 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.

Within the Mission Atlantic Project, SANBI’s marine programme is seeking to appoint a postdoctoral fellow with sufficient experience in the NBA to advance research (on species, ecosystems, pressures, ecosystem condition, resilience and assessment) to support and improve the NBA which SANBI is mandated to conduct and further align the NBA with the Integrated Ecosystem Assessment (IEA) planned under the Mission Atlantic Project.

The one-year postdoctoral fellowship will include collaborative research directly or indirectly linked to deliverables, tasks and milestones of the Mission Atlantic Project. The postdoctoral fellow will support work being undertaken under work package 1 (Ocean Integrated Ecosystem Assessment), work package 5 (Assessing state, drivers and tipping points) and work package 7 (Risk Assessment and uncertainties) of the Mission Atlantic Project.

The postdoctoral fellow will support milestone 5.3 of the Mission Atlantic Project through leading a dedicated workshop on ecosystem condition assessment and tipping points drawing from national and international work and collaboration.

The workshop will serve to introduce and align ecosystem condition assessment methods at the local, national and regional scale and explore the development of a multi-scale assessment framework with marine ecosystem condition indicators and relevant tipping points, to align with methodologies developed under the Mission Atlantic Project. Candidates will be expected to contribute to workshop reports and interim project reporting.

Bursary value

A fellowship of R300,000 is available. The funding will be transferred to the University of Cape Town where the postdoctoral fellow will be registered and will be paid to the fellow from the university. Some running expenses will also be made available for the year.

Application procedure 

Each application is to be accompanied by a standard bursary application cover sheet.

Applications are to include: a full CV that shows the applicant’s educational background, relevant research, work experience, publications 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, one or two published/submitted articles and a 2-page outline of the applicant’s vision for the workshop planned under milestone 5.3, envisaged outputs and how workshop outcomes can contribute to the Mission Atlantic Project and the NBA.

Send all documents to with 'SANBI Marine Programme postdoctoral fellowship' in the subject line.

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.

The successful candidate will be notified before the end of April 2021.

For academic queries:
Prof Kerry Sink

Ms Megan van der Bank

For questions about the application process:
Ms René du Toit

Closes: Friday, 16 April 2021
Location: Cape Town
Job type: One year full time Postdoctoral Fellowship
Bursary value: R300 000

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