PhD: Hydrological and sediment impacts of forestry operations in Ireland (HydroSED) via FindAPhD

University College Dublin

Dublin, , IE

About the Project

Funding Agency: Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine (DAFM)

Description: An exciting opportunity has arisen for a suitably qualified and motivated graduate to undertake a PhD in University College Dublin (UCD) as part of a large-scale interdisciplinary 4-year research project “Hydrological and sediment impacts of forestry operations in Ireland” funded by the Irish Government’s Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine. This project is collaborative and involves research teams in UCD (Schools of Civil Engineering, Biology and Environmental Science, Agriculture and Food Science and Geography) and Cork Institute of Technology (School of Building & Civil Engineering) and also involves Coillte and Green Belt Ltd.

Forestry presents pressures to the ecological status of watercourses, with sediment release being a recognised stressor. This field-based project will measure hydromorphological change and sediment release at seven forestry sites with adjacent or nearby lotic waterbodies. Study sites will reflect a range of soils, topographical and hydrological settings relevant to Irish forestry and the monitoring strategy will specifically target a range of forestry operations (afforestation, harvesting, windrowing and reforestation). The efficacy and performance of commonly adopted sediment control measures in forests will also be assessed. A hydrological model in combination with an appropriate soil-loss model will be developed and tested to simulate hydrological and sediment release processes in Irish forestry settings.


The PhD study will require the successful student to:
• Contribute to selection of study sites (with wider project team);
• Prepare a state-of-art review of academic literature relevant to the field of study;
• Instrument and monitor hydrology and suspended sediment levels across all study sites, prior, during and following specific forestry operations;
• Assess intensity of soil disturbance by forest operations through the collection and interrogation of aerial survey data;
• Conduct experimental testing to assess the effectiveness of mitigation measures (brash mats, silt traps etc.) for minimising soil disturbance and soil loss from forestry sites;
• Assess suitable hydrological models for simulating soil loss from forestry blocks and assess the validity of coupling existing soil erosion models to the existing SMART hydrological model.
• Publish/ present research findings in academic journals and at national and international academic conferences;
• Engage with other project activities as deemed appropriate by Supervisors.

Requirements/Qualifications: The successful candidate will hold a 2.1 or first class honours degree in Civil, Water Resources or Environmental Engineering, Geology (water and/ or sedimentation) or a related discipline. A Masters degree in Civil Engineering or a related area may also be suitable.

The candidate must be highly motivated and capable of working both independently and within a team. Strong numerical and analytical skills are essential as is an ability to communicate scientific research findings. Experience of field measurements and data collection is desirable – the successful candidate will be required to design and play a lead-role in a demanding programme of field data collection over a 4-year period, which will involve working in inclement conditions. A full driving license is also required.

Project Duration: 48 months
Conditions: €18,000 stipend per annum
Postgraduate fees for EU students will be covered by the project.
In addition, any necessary travel and material costs incurred during the project will be covered.

Please Note: Candidates from outside the EU are eligible to apply but will be expected to provide evidence of sources of additional funds to cover excesses associated with Non-EU fees.
If English is not the applicant’s first language, a certificate of English language ability is required. For IELTS, an average score of 6.5 over all components and a minimum of 6.0 in each band on the Academic Version is required. Scores deemed to be comparable under different tests will be considered.

Proposed Start Date: 1 September 2020
Application Closing Date: 4pm on Tuesday 30th June 2020 (application will remain open until filled by a suitable candidate)

Applicants should submit their Curriculum Vitae (with names of 2 referees), together with a personal statement explaining (1) how you meet the requirements of the position and; (ii) why you would like to pursue a PhD Research Programme, to

For further information on the project please contact:
Assoc. Prof. John O’Sullivan, UCD School of Civil Engineering ()
Dr. Fiachra O’Loughlin, UCD School of Civil Engineering ()
Dr. Brian Tobin, UCD School of Agriculture & Food Science (