PhD: Would coupling regenerative land management and seaweed aquaculture be beneficial in a changing climate? via EURAXESS

University of East Anglia

Norwich, UK 🇬🇧



Humanity faces parallel crises of climate change and ecosystem services collapse due to unsustainable use of natural resources, with food production challenges exacerbating these problems.  Agriculture is a key source of greenhouse gas emissions and diffuse pollution, and increasing weather extremes (droughts; intense rainfall) contribute to fluctuations in river and coastal water quality.  New UK government initiatives to support rural economies, achieve environmental goals and net zero emissions treat land and sea separately, ignoring potential benefits from aquaculture.  This exciting PhD leverages both natural science and environmental economics to investigate how combining regenerative farming with innovative seaweed aquaculture may increase health and resilience of the coupled terrestrial-marine ecosystem and support socioeconomic well-being. 


Focusing on a catchment in southwest England, you’ll: 

  • Combine real-time weather and in situ data to assess water quality response to intense rainfall and how this relates to land use, identifying where land management changes would be most beneficial.  
  • Examine potential for seaweed aquaculture to use excess nutrients and carbon, evaluating benefits against those of land management options. 
  • Deploy state-of-the-art ecological economics approaches in an extended cost-benefit analysis of suggested changes to management practices, highlighting trade-offs implicit in the circular relationships between upstream “prevention” and downstream “cure”. 
  • Make policy recommendations acceptable to multiple stakeholders. 

Integration of modelling, scenario analysis and quantification of life-cycle socioeconomic benefits will feed into your stakeholder engagement, offering a template and demonstration to inform ongoing policy debate within the 25 Year Environment Plan

You’ll work with a strong multidisciplinary team (Malin and Di Maria – UEA; Posen and Capuzzo – Cefas) with excellent research track records across biological oceanography, sustainable seaweed aquaculture, natural resource economics and spatial modelling.  


You’ll gain advanced, transferrable, skills beneficial to a wide range of careers including data analysis, spatial modelling, ecological economics, non-market valuation, stakeholder interaction. In addition a 1-3 month internship is available with  

Person specification   

Enthusiastic, self-motivated, with good analytical skills, you appreciate the transdisciplinary challenges of climate-related research.  A degree in environmental sciences or environmental economics would be ideal. 


Successful candidates will be awarded a 4-year studentship covering tuition fees, a maintenance stipend (£15,609 per year in 2021/22) and funds to support the research project and associated training. Additional funds are not available to assist with relocation or visa costs. 

We anticipate that up to two awards will be made to international students for October 2022 entry. 

Part-time studentship awards are subject to approval by the Leverhulme Trust. 

For more information about the ‘Critical Decade’ programme click here

This project has been selected for the Critical Decade for Climate Change programme, funded by the Leverhulme Trust. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to an online interview, to be held late February/early March 2022.