Ecology and Hydrology Research Technician

University of Birmingham
Birmingham, United Kingdom
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
University/Academia/Research/Think tank
Experience Level: 
Not Specified


Please note: this job post has expired! To the best of our knowledge, this job is no longer available and this page remains here for archival purposes only.

Ecology and Hydrology Research Technician - 95875

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham UK

Full time starting salary is normally in the range £23,406 to £25,143, with potential progression once in post to £29,107


Band 500


Full Time/FTC for 30 months


Closing date: 13th November 2020

Role Summary
The successful candidate will play a key role in delivering an exciting new NERC-funded project “Toward a UK Fire Danger Rating System: Understanding Fuels, Fire Behaviour and Impacts”. The project aims to establish and test the key scientific components of an effective, tailored UK fire danger rating system for use in establishing the likelihood and impact of current and future wildfire regimes. The overall project includes six interlinked work packages: (1) Fuel mapping: landscape scale to local fuel structure (2) Fuel moisture regime characterisations (3) Flammability and aspects of fire behaviour in key UK land cover types (4) Assessing UK fire behaviour (5) Assessing outputs against actual fire occurrence (6) Scoping landscape-scale and national wildfire risk assessment. The project is a large collaboration between seven intuitions (University of Birmingham, University of Manchester, University of Exeter, Swansea University, London School of Economics and Political Science, University of Portsmouth, and Forest Research) and supported by a diverse stakeholder advisory board. Across the whole project, there are 9 academic Co-Investigators, 4 PDRAs and two technicians (see for further details).

The post holder will make a significant contribution to the fuel moisture regime characterization component of the project, instigating a drought monitoring network and measuring live and dead vegetation moisture throughout the year in sites located principally across England and Wales. The post holder will work closely with the project lead within Birmingham to collect and process scientifically robust data to deliver high-end research. This well-supported but challenging role combines significant independent field work and some associated laboratory measurements and data collation. Whilst based at the University of Birmingham, the post-holder should be willing to drive extensive across the UK all year around with frequent overnight accommodation. This requires a clean license, with the full license held for over twelve months.

The post holder should have significant experience of field work and demonstrate the independence, initiative and problem solving skills required for this to be undertaken safely and successfully. The field work will include the identification, collection and measurement of different dominant vegetation species and so the successful candidate should be familiar with the identification of such species within the UK. It will also include the construction and installation of drought shelters, requiring some manual handing and basic construction, as well as the installation, management and downloading of basic environmental monitoring equipment. Such a large monitoring network will require extensive engagement and support with stakeholders and land managers. Thus the successful candidate will be required to engage effectively with such partners as and when appropriate. In addition to the field based data collection, the technician will be responsible for the broader processing and measurement of samples within the laboratory, the organization and storage of field data, and the management of field expenses and purchasing of consumables for the research that they undertake.
Main Duties
•    Support the development of ecological and hydrological monitoring network, conducting monthly monitoring of vegetation moisture content and basic meteorological and environmental variables from a network of up to 150 sites spread across England and Wales using standard field sample collection protocols.
•    Sample collection within the field and basic preparation and measurements of samples at the University of Birmingham laboratories. It will involve the installation, maintenance and downloading of a network of basic micrometeorological and soil measurement instrumentation.
•    Construction and maintenance of drought shelters within the study sites requiring basic construction and manual handing skills.
•    Engagement with land owners and stakeholders involved within the projected as required to help support the development and maintenance of the monitoring network.
•    Organize and manage data in standard formats (Excel) and archive samples as a backup and for future analysis.
•    Ensure quality control and assurance, maintaining a rigorous accuracy and precision in daily measurements to ensure quality data generation.
•    Work closely with the wider technical and research teams both within the University of Birmingham and the wider research project to ensure complementarity and smooth field and laboratory measurement campaigns.

Decision Making/Problem Solving
The post-holder will be required to work independently within the field in all conditions, prioritise tasks and independently solving problems as they arise in the field. The post-holder will normally work without supervision, gaining direction from the Academic Supervisor.
Knowledge, Skills, Qualifications and Experience Required
•    Significant experience in active field research and data collection in the field of ecology, hydrology or environmental sciences, preferably with some laboratory experience.
•    Good vegetation identification skills of key UK species and basic soil analysis.
•    A good working knowledge of word processing and spreadsheet software for data management.
•    Good written and verbal communication skills.
•    The role will involve extensive driving to research sites with overnight stays across the country for sample collection. With insurance we do state the driver should be over 21, with a clean licence and held their full licence for over twelve months. If there is a specific case we can look at this on an individual basis.
•    Effective communication with the research group within the University of Birmingham, the wider consortium of project partners, and stake holders and land managers.

For further information please contact Nicholas Kettridge, or telephone 0121 414 3575

What we can offer you


Working at the University of Birmingham brings many benefits, from generous holiday leave, to reward and recognition. The University offers a range of benefits to help you achieve a better balance between your family and work responsibilities.  We provide discounts on childcare and have two day nurseries and a holiday club on or near campus.  In addition, you can benefit from a number of retail offers and discounts and you will have the opportunity to join private medical and dental schemes such as the National Dental Plan. For more information about staff benefits, please visit:


Our beautiful campus is one of our greatest assets. We are like a city within a city with all our buildings and amenities on a single site.  Our striking architecture and 250-acres of parkland will inspire you to make the most of your time here and not only that but it has all the amenities of a small town. You will find bars, shops, a hair salon, opticians, travel agents, a concert hall, fine art gallery, geology museum and major banks on campus. You will also be able to take advantage of the fruit stall and regular Farmer’s Markets that take place here.


In addition you will have access to all of the University's facilities such as the sports centre, library, outstanding nurseries, research facilities, faith support, wellbeing services, staff clubs and networks.