PhD: ITN Early Stage Researcher (inventWater ESR11)

University of Stirling

Stirling, UK 🇬🇧

Post Details

Full time
Fixed term for a period of three years

Salary: circa £36,178 p.a subject to annual review based on exchange rates

The closing date for application is midnight on Wednesday 08 December 2021
Interviews are expected to take place on Monday 20 or Tuesday 21 December 2021 

It is anticipated that a successful candidate who does not already have valid Right to Work in the UK will apply for a Global Talent visa to take up the post

The post is also subject to successful enrolment on a PhD programme at the University of Stirling. The successful candidate will be provided with information on how to enrol on a PhD programme

The Post

We are looking to recruit an outstanding and enthusiastic ITN Early Stage Researcher (ESR / PhD student) to work on the H2020 MSCA ITN project ‘inventWater’ funded by the European Commission.  This is an exceptional opportunity to join an international cohort of 15 ESRs and a wider team of international scientists working on key topics in the development of forecasting tools for adapting water quality management to a new climate.  

The post will be salaried for period of three years with an expectation of submitting a PhD thesis within four years of appointment.  Please be aware that the fourth year of PhD registration carries no salary.

Line manager and lead supervisor
Dr Ian Jones
Any queries about the post can be directed to [email protected]

Professor Eleanor Jennings, Dundalk Institute of Technology, Ireland
Dr Peter Hunter, University of Stirling, Stirling, UK

Project Description

Oxygen is a fundamental water quality parameter; depletions in oxygen will affect fish habitat and increase anoxia promoting internal release of nutrients and heavy metals from lake sediment. Increased air temperatures are forecast to cause longer periods of stratification in lakes that will directly lead to longer periods of deoxygenation. Other climate-induced changes such as alterations to the strength of stratification and to hypolimnetic temperatures will also affect oxygen dynamics, as will any changes to phytoplankton productivity in lakes. Oxygen concentration, and particularly deep-water oxygen concentration, is, therefore, at risk of significantly reducing because of climate change, with widespread negative consequences for standing water ecosystems. The impact of climate change on oxygen concentration needs to be understood for adaptation approaches to be applied effectively.

The objective of this PhD is to validate oxygen models against real data, use the models to understand the effect that different lake morphology has on oxygen dynamics, and conduct global modelling experiments to demonstrate the impact of future climate change and adaptation strategies on deep-water oxygen in lakes across the world.

Expected Results:

  1. Model oxygen dynamics in Lake Erken with GOTM and compare with simpler oxygen models.
  2. Use modelling based on Lake Erken, Sweden, and Milltown Lake, Ireland, to examine the influence hypsography has on oxygen depletion.
  3. Carry out historic and future global modelling of deep-water oxygen concentration using the full suite of ISIMIP lake physics model outputs for each global grid square.
  4. Forecasts of anoxia on a subset of ISIMIP lakes and adaptation scenarios.


This position involves significant collaboration and the successful candidate will be required to undertake secondments to these organisations as part of the appointment. A willingness to travel and spend time outside the UK is therefore essential:

  • Dr Don Pierson, University of Uppsala, Uppsala, Sweden; 4 months
  • Professor Eleanor Jennings, Dundalk Institute of Technology, Ireland; 3 months

Description of Duties

  • Develop research objectives and methodology relevant to the project area
  • Undertake all research components, for example conducting literature searches, conducting and recording the outcome of experiments and field work, developing and validating computer programs
  • Write up results of own research and contribute to the production of research reports and publications
  • Collaborate with academic and industry colleagues on areas of shared research interest
  • Continually update knowledge, skills and understanding in field or specialism

Essential Criteria


  • Primary degree in the natural sciences, mathematics, engineering, or physical geography, with a minimum of an upper second (2.1) degree (or equivalent)
  • Any applicant whose first language is other than English must have either a certified English language proficiency of at least IELTS 6.5 or equivalent, or have undertaken their qualifying degree through English

Knowledge, Skills & Experience:

  • Demonstrable numerical ability
  • Experience in computer programming in one or more scientific programming languages (such as R, Python, Matlab, Fortran etc)
  • Knowledge of environmental issues
  • Willingness to take part in secondments detailed above and to take part in overseas training courses

Candidates must also meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Researchers are required to undertake trans-national mobility (i.e. move from one country to another) when taking up the appointment. Applicants cannot apply for an ESR position hosted in a country where they have resided, worked or studied for more than 12 months in total in the 3 years immediately prior to the start of recruitment
  • Applicants should be in the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of their research careers and not yet have been awarded a doctorate. This 4 year period is measured from the date of obtaining the degree which would formally entitle them to embark on a doctorate in the country of the host institution

Desirable Criteria


  • A first class degree (or equivalent) in natural sciences, mathematics, engineering, or physical geography
  • An MSc in natural sciences, mathematics, engineering, or physical geography
  • A distinction (or equivalent) at MSc in natural sciences, mathematics, engineering, or physical geography

Knowledge, Skills & Experience:

  • Experience in numerical modelling
  • Experience in handling very large datasets
  • Good statistical knowledge
  • Knowledge of limnology
  • Knowledge of ecology

Behaviours and Competencies

The role holder will be required to evidence that they can meet the qualities associated with the following behavioural competencies, as detailed within the AUA Competency Framework.

  1. Managing self and personal skills
    Being aware of your own behaviour and mindful of how it impacts on others, enhancing personal skills to adapt professional practice accordingly.
  2. Delivering excellent service
    Providing the best quality service to external and internal clients. Building genuine and open long-term relationships in order to drive up service standards.
  3. Finding solutions
    Taking a holistic view and working enthusiastically to analyse problems and to develop workable solutions. Identifying opportunities for innovation.
  4. Embracing change
    Being open to and engaging with new ideas and ways of working. Adjusting to unfamiliar situations, shifting demands and changing roles.
  5. Using resources effectively
    Identifying and making the most productive use of resources including people, time, information, networks and budgets.
  6. Engaging with the wider context
    Enhancing your contribution to the organisation through an understanding of the bigger picture and showing commitment to organisational values.
  7. Developing self and others
    Showing commitment to own ongoing professional development. Supporting and encouraging others to develop their professional knowledge, skills and behaviours to enable them to reach their full potential.
  8. Working together
    Working collaboratively with others in order to achieve objectives. Recognising and valuing the different contributions people bring to this process.
  9. Achieving Results
    Consistently meeting agreed objectives and success criteria. Taking personal responsibility for getting things done.

About Us

The Faculty of Natural Sciences was formed in August 2016 and encompasses the Divisions of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Computing Science and Mathematics, Psychology and the Institute of Aquaculture. The FNS is a distinctive academic arena where new fundamental understandings of the complex and challenging inter-relationships between human behaviours, technologies, biological, environmental and aquatic systems are created, explored and tested.  Results of REF2014 confirmed that our research is regarded as world-leading and internationally excellent. Our research is supported through UK Research Councils, the European Union and a range of research charities and private enterprises.  We work with businesses and public service organizations both at home and overseas to achieve direct and positive outcomes for society across a range of critical problems.

Biological and Environmental Sciences (BES)
The strength of BES lies in our unique focus on the interface between people and the environment, which positions us well to exploit growing funding opportunities and to develop strong student interest in environmental and ecological systems science and management.  Our research interests are broad, ranging from conservation and evolutionary ecology to environmental processes including carbon and nutrient cycling, aquatic sciences and ecology, pollution, environment and human health, and impact monitoring. Our studies incorporate science, policy and practice; they are used to inform national and international policy makers and practitioners in conservation and environmental regulation, planning and management. Our research and impacts are found in all continents of the world and positions us as a leading institution in Environmental Protection and Biological Conservation. Our location, the City of Stirling, is fast becoming a centre for environmental and conservation activity in Scotland, with four times the national average number of jobs in the environment sector.

The University

The University of Stirling is a leading UK teaching and research-intensive university, created by Royal Charter in 1967. Since its foundation, the University has embraced its role as an innovative, intellectual and cultural institution with a pioneering spirit and a passion for excellence in all that it does.

In 2016, the University launched its current Strategic Plan (2016-2021), with targets to: be one of the top 25 universities in the UK; increase income by £50 million; enhance its research profile by 100 per cent; and ensure internationalisation is at the heart of everything it does.

With three-quarters of its research ranked world-leading and internationally-excellent (Research Excellence Framework 2014), the University’s groundbreaking, interdisciplinary research makes a difference to society and has a positive impact on communities worldwide. Stirling’s research is making a positive impact on people’s health, education and wellbeing, with key strengths across our research themes of: Cultures, Communities and Society; Global Security and Resilience; and Living Well. The University collaborates with international governments and policymakers, businesses, industry, and charitable organisations, to tackle and provide solutions to some of the toughest global societal challenges.

For more information on working at Stirling, please visit

The University offers great benefits such as generous annual leave and membership of the Universities Superannuation Scheme. Additionally staff can benefit from a reduced membership rate at the University’s excellent Sport Centre facilities.

A full list of FAQs can be found here, we recommend you read these before making your application.

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Terms and conditions of this post can be found here.

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