Postdoctoral Research Assistant in Volcanic Plume Measurements and Process Understanding

University of Oxford

Oxford, South East England, United Kingdom

Salary: Grade 7: £32,236 - £39,609 with a discretionary range to £43,267 p.a.

The department seeks to appoint a Postdoctoral Research Assistant to work under the direction of Professor Tamsin Mather (University of Oxford) on the project ‘Volcanic plume understanding and forecasting: Integrating remote-sensing, in-situ observations and models (V-PLUS)’, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council. The post, based at the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford, aims to make in-situ and ground-based remote sensing measurements of gas, aerosol and ash in volcanic plumes and, in collaboration with modellers and satellite remote-sensing experts, use these observations to improve the understanding and forecasting of volcanic plume hazards and impacts.


The researcher will be responsible for undertaking field campaigns including the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for plume sampling, the deployment of ground-based measurement techniques and the chemical and physical analyses of the samples retrieved. From these measurements, they will contribute to new parameterisations of sulphur chemistry, primary sulphate mass and size fraction, and particle formation and growth in tropospheric volcanic plumes and will work with modellers to implement them in dispersion models. They will also be responsible for Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) field deployments and retrievals in order to contribute to improved satellite retrieval schemes for ash and aerosol. They will coordinate sampling campaigns with UK-based scientists and scientists from the relevant volcano observatories or other local institutions.


The successful candidate will join a vibrant team of active volcano researchers in Oxford and across the Universities of Cambridge, Manchester, Leeds, Cardiff and the UK Met Office as well as an extensive network of international project partners. They will work closely with researchers in the V-PLUS project, and with ‘COMET’, a world-leading centre for understanding tectonic and volcanic processes and hazards (comet.nerc.ac.uk). The principal aim of the project is to better understand, quantify and parameterise the physical and chemical processes governing the atmospheric evolution, transport and removal of volcanic plume constituents from source to sink. V-PLUS will develop methods and tools that can be used operationally with the aim to enhance national and international capabilities to forecast volcanic gas, aerosol and ash plumes and their impacts.


A PhD in a relevant field at the time of starting the post is required, as are skills in direct sampling of volcanic plumes and/or FTIR measurements. The successful candidate must also have the ability to work in a multi-disciplinary team of researchers and undertake fieldwork in potentially challenging conditions. The project involves collaborations with other UK and foreign institutions. Experience working as part of a team in the context of volcanic fieldwork, networking and setting up new contacts is required. Furthermore, you must be able to lead and report on an independent research programme and have excellent written and oral communication skills. There is scope for the PDRA to undertake some teaching, either in taught courses, field courses, or in the supervision of Masters projects.


For further details of the post please see the further particulars. This post is full-time and fixed-term for up to 40 months.


We wish to fill the post at the earliest opportunity


Applications must be received by 12.00 noon on 15 February 2019. Our provisional date for interviews is 7 March 2019.

Please apply via recruiter’s website.

Quote Reference: University of Oxford-itox_ac-138669

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