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PhD studentship: The distribution and abundance of cetaceans in Irish waters

Closing Date for Applications: 21 Jun 2021 School: School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences and MaREI Centre College: College of Science, Engineering and Food Science Contract Type: Fixed Term Whole-Time Job Type: Research Salary: see advert for details

Project Outline Applications are invited for a 4-year PhD award within the ObSERVE programme in the School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences (BEES) and the MaREI Centre in University College Cork (UCC). The ObSERVE programme is funded by the Department of Environment, Communications and Climate (DECC) and aims to provide updated information on the distribution and abundance of marine megafauna in Irish waters through aerial surveys. The PhD student will join a diverse group of researchers at UCC and help deliver an ambitious aerial survey programme, participating as an observer in dedicated surveys for marine megafauna (cetaceans, seabirds, turtles, sharks) and undertaking a programme of study on the distribution of marine megafauna in Irish waters. Aerial surveys throughout the Irish EEZ will be conducted in summer and winter of 2021 and 2022. In addition, a series of fine-scale surveys will be conducted along the south and southwest coastal waters in summer, autumn and winter of 2021 and 2022. The successful student should be willing and able to participate in all surveys. The proposed PhD will focus on the distribution and habitat modelling of cetaceans, identifying biodiversity ‘hotspots’ and marine spatial planning. Scholarship details The scholarship is funded by the Department of Environment, Communications and Climate ObSERVE programme and will cover EU fees of €5,900 and a tax-free stipend of €18,500 per annum for a period of four years. UK applicants will be granted EU fee status due to the Common Travel Area with Ireland, but international students would likely be required to make up the fee deficit (currently approx. €10,000 p.a.). It is anticipated that the successful candidate will start the project as soon as possible after 1st July 2021. The student will work under the supervision of Prof. Emer Rogan and Dr Mark Jessopp and be based within the School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences, with links to the MaREI Centre, UCC. As part of a 4 year structured PhD at UCC, the student will also be required to undertake 20 credits of postgraduate modules aimed at equipping students with a range of transferable skills (e.g. project management, scientific writing, outreach & communication, and data analysis). The School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Science (BEES) is one of the largest and most active academic units within the College of Science, Engineering and Food Science (SEFS) at University College Cork (UCC). It has a long history of research and teaching within the University through its cognate disciplines of Zoology & Ecology, Environmental Science, Geology and Plant Science. The School has over 70 postgraduate researchers (PhD, MSc and MRes) as well as 29 Academic Staff, 5 Administrative Staff and 11 Technical Staff. The School is research active, being highly successful in terms of numbers of PhDs graduated and research grant income captured, resulting in productive research of international quality. Researchers at BEES have, inter alia, been awarded four ERC awards and publish in the top international journals such as Nature and Science. The five research themes within the School of BEES (aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals) are:

  • Biodiversity and Sustainability (ecology and evolutionary biology, animal behaviour, vegetation science, conservation and marine science)

  • Resources and Climate Action (impacts of climate change, energy resources and raw materials)

  • Food Security (crop research and aquaculture)

  • Geosystems (earth processes, palaeobiology and geohazards)

  • Environment and Health (water quality, biodiversity, toxicology and pathology)

MaREI is a key research centre within UCC’s Environmental Research Institute (ERI), which is an internationally recognised Institute for environmental research dedicated to the understanding and protection of our natural environment and to developing innovative technologies, tools and services to facilitate a transformation to a zero carbon and resource efficient society. The MaREI Centre is an SFI funded research centre headquartered in the ERI and includes 12 other Universities and Third Level Institutes from across Ireland and has 50 industrial partners. Researchers have extensive experience in conducting fundamental and applied research supported by competitively won national and international funding, and commercial contracts with government agencies and industry. MaREI’s strengths lie in the multi-disciplinary nature of its research teams, allowing it to combine insights across areas such as MRE Technologies, Materials & Structures, Observations & Operations, Coastal & Marine Systems, Bioenergy, Energy Policy & Modelling and Renewable Energy Management. Requirements Applicants must have a good primary degree in an appropriate discipline. A MSc in Marine Biology or equivalent would be preferable, though not essential. Applicants will need to satisfy the English language requirement as well as criteria listed below: Language criteria:

  • IELTS: 6.5 with no individual section lower than 5.5

  • TOEFL: 90 with minimum scores as follows: Listening – 17; Reading – 18; Speaking – 20; Writing – 17

Essential criteria:

  • 1st or 2:1 BSc in appropriate discipline (e.g. Zoology, Ecology, Marine Biology)

  • Experience in identifying marine megafauna in northeast Atlantic waters

  • Willingness and ability to participate in aerial surveys in offshore waters

  • Experience with MS Office (Word, Excel etc)

  • Strong numerical skills

  • Experience with data analysis in R

  • Ability to work in a team

  • Familiarity with at-sea survey methodologies for marine megafauna

Desirable criteria:

  • MSc in a related discipline

  • Familiarity with GIS

  • Marine mammal or seabird observer accreditation

  • Familiarity/experience with large databases

  • Familiarity with statistical modelling

  • Sea Survival certification

Further information Please contact either of the following for more information regarding the scholarship and making an application:

  • Professor Emer Rogan, School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences, University College Cork, e-mail:

  • Dr Mark Jessopp, School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences, University College Cork, e-mail:

To Apply:

Submit an electronic version of a cv including contact details of 2 referees and cover letter outlining how you meet the post requirements to Prof. Emer Rogan, School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences, University College Cork, e-mail:

Closing date for applications is 12pm, Monday 21st June 2021.

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