Hardy Research Fellowship

Marine Biological Association of the UK

Plymouth, United Kingdom

Application Details

An application should comprise the following and be sent electronically by 1700h on Wednesday 22nd May, 2019 to: hr@mba.ac.uk

  • A cover letter giving the principal reasons why the applicant is the most appropriate person for this position, including why they wish to lead the long-term data research programme at the MBA.
  • A more detailed statement (not to exceed four A4 pages in total) describing;
  • Past research and achievements,
  • A proposed plan of the research to be undertaken if successful in obtaining the Fellowship.
  • A full curriculum vitae including the names, addresses and contact details of at least three referees.

Informal enquiries can be made to the MBA Director, Professor Willie Wilson (wilwil@mba.ac.uk).

Background information

The Marine Biological Association of the UK (MBA) was founded in 1884 and incorporated by Royal Charter in 2013. Our Mission is to promote scientific research into all aspects of life in the marine environment and to disseminate to the public the knowledge gained. For more information about the MBA see http://www.mba.ac.uk.

We deliver this mission as a Learned Society working with our members and through our Research and Knowledge Exchange programmes. We promote scientific discovery by ensuring that we focus on key scientific and societal challenges, and through provision of world class expertise and infrastructure.

The key challenges

  • Earth’s ecosystems are threatened by multiple anthropogenic impacts such as habitat degradation, climate change and overexploitation of resources. There is a pressing need to understand and help mitigate these processes, and to inform debate and policy relating to marine ecosystem sustainability.
  • Marine ecosystems and the biota within them also offer great opportunities for the advancement of biological, biomedical and biotechnological sciences.
  • To meet these challenges and knowledge needs, it is critical to understand fundamental mechanisms that underlie biological processes, their evolution and interactions with changing marine environments.
  • The knowledge gained from research needs to be disseminated to a broad audience for the wider education of the public, industry and policy makers.

The MBA Vision

  • To foster scientific innovation at the cutting edges of marine biological research, leading to discoveries of global significance.
  • To be the primary voice on behalf of marine biologists and an expert provider of advice and insights that will enhance wider curiosity, appreciation and custodianship of life in the seas.

MBA key scientific challenge areas:

  • Marine model organisms: Understand basic life processes and their evolution for fundamental biological, biomedical and biotechnological advances.
  • Marine microbes, phytoplankton and viruses: Controlling factors, interactions, population variability and adaptation to change.
  • Animal populations: Understanding the fundamental principles of animal physiology, movements and behaviour that underlie animal population ecology in a changing world. Using this information to inform ecosystem sustainability studies.
  • Ocean fluxes: Understanding how marine organisms drive major biogeochemical processes – calcification, silicification, carbon and nutrient cycling.
  • Coastal ecosystem biodiversity: Understanding the factors that determine biodiversity – pressures, threats, ecosystem response and resilience to climate change.

MBA Research Programme strategic aims:

  • Elucidate the biological mechanisms that underlie the functioning of marine systems and their responses to changing environmental pressures.
  • Utilise marine models for further discovery in fundamental biology using interdisciplinary approaches, from molecules and cells, to whole organisms, communities and ecosystems.

Fellowships at the MBA Laboratory, Plymouth

The MBA has run a Research Fellowship scheme at its Laboratory since 1988. Its purpose is to deliver world-leading fundamental and strategic research in marine biological sciences through a cohort of world-class primary researchers with a strong interdisciplinary focus, and by producing research leaders to develop the field of marine biology. Funding for the fellowships comes from a range of sources. In 2018, the MBA merged with the internationally renowned Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) Survey, formerly operated by the Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science (SAHFOS). Sir Alister Hardy went to Oxford and started studying zoology in 1919, going on to graduate with distinction. His first job was at the fisheries lab in Lowestoft where he worked on Herring. Sir Alister Hardy’s interest in marine plankton came when he was awarded the Naples Scholarship, and from here he was taken on as zoologist on the RRS Discovery voyage to the Antarctic 1925-1927. It was on this voyage he invented the Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR). This and his ground-breaking research into plankton forms the basis of the work of the CPR Survey today. Following the merger with the MBA, funds were endowed to establish a Hardy Fellowship, and now form part of the ongoing legacy for this plankton pioneer. The CPR Survey will allow the MBA to contribute to the significant scientific effort that advises political decisions on a global scale. Scientific synergies from the merger between the MBA and SAHFOS are important, and will continue to strengthen the MBA’s position as an international leader in Marine Biology.

Historic research on fish and benthos started soon after the foundation of the MBA. Systematic work on plankton in the western English Channel was initiated with the international investigations that started in the 1900s under the auspices of ICES. There are excellent long-term data on fish and benthos off Plymouth and in the wider English Channel. These nearshore and offshore time series are complemented by extensive broad scale surveys of rocky shores in the southwest of England and the rest of the British Isles, Ireland and Europe started by Professor Alan Southward, plus time series of key species on southwest shores dating from the 1950s.

The successful candidate will join colleagues in an active research programme in marine biology at the MBA Laboratory, Plymouth. The MBA Science Programme currently encompasses two main areas of research activity: Cellular and Molecular Processes; Ecosystems and Environmental Change. There are currently a number of MBA Fellows within each grouping, as well as numerous Associate, Visiting and Honorary Fellows, in addition to the research groups of all these Fellows, comprising postdoctoral researchers, research officers, technicians, and PhD students.

The Fellows’ research is funded by winning competitive responsive mode and strategic grant awards, contracts from various governmental departments and non-governmental organisations, in addition to significant European funding including ERC grants. The Fellows’ research groups address topics such as algal and phytoplankton cell biology, viral ecology, fish behavioural ecology, and global change biology, and include use of MBA long-term monitoring datasets on marine organisms, for example zooplankton, larval and adult fish abundance. See http://www.mba.ac.uk/research for more details on the Fellows’ and Associate Fellows’ research.

The MBA Research Programme is complemented by the Knowledge Exchange Programme. Work in this area encompasses the MBA education programme including public outreach, community engagement projects and schools liaison (see http://www.mba.ac.uk/education for more information on education); data archiving and management (e.g. DASSH, NMBL Archive), marine evidence for management and policy (e.g. MarLIN, MECN, MarCLIM), see http://www.mba.ac.uk/service-data-and-information/data-and-information; and the Learned Society, such as Association membership and activities, and leading journals such as the JMBA. See http://www.mba.ac.uk/membership for more information on the Learned Society.

MBA Laboratory facilities include a half-million-litre seawater aquarium, an algal culture collection, advanced imaging microscopy, modern molecular biology facilities, and access to our modern coastal research ship, the RV MBA Sepia (15.4 m).

The successful candidate will lead and further develop the science programme of the CPR survey as well as the long-term data holdings of the MBA. These include the plankton, fish and benthos surveys in the western English Channel that date back to 1911. There will also be an opportunity to work with the team that manage the UK rocky intertidal dataset that dates to the 1950s. An outstanding record of research and leadership, and an ambition to build an independent research group supported by competitive funding are essential.

Salary is commensurate with experience, and based on the UCEA scale (£34,189 – £61,618); higher salaries may be considered for exceptional professorial-level candidates.

Applications should be submitted via email to hr@mba.ac.uk by the closing time/date of 1700h on Wednesday 22nd May, 2019.

(The position will remain open until we identify a suitable candidate)


Apply with CV and Cover Letter

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Hardy Research Fellowship