Pelagic Ecologist (Band F)

Job reference:
BAS 21/72
Contract type:
Full Time
£50,702 - £64,786 per annum
We offer generous benefits
Ecosystems team
Cambridge, with the possibility of fieldwork, including in Antarctica
Closing date:
23 May, 2021 11:59 pm

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, please note there may be delays to our recruitment timeline.


The British Antarctic Survey (BAS), part of the Natural Environment Research Council, aims to undertake a world-class programme of scientific research, and to sustain for the UK an active and influential regional presence and a leadership role in Antarctic affairs.
We are seeking a plankton ecologist to lead and develop key areas of research on the role of phytoplankton and zooplankton in polar ocean ecosystems and their importance in the global ocean. The successful candidate will join the Ecosystems team within BAS, an internationally-leading group of >25 active scientists that currently conducts extensive research on pelagic marine ecology aimed at understanding the responses of species and ecosystems to variability and change in the polar oceans and informing policy development for conservation and management. The postholder’s studies will develop key areas of research concerning the role of plankton in polar ocean ecosystems, such as analyses of life-histories, plankton population processes and community ecology and plankton interactions in polar ocean food webs. The post holder will develop these areas in new directions using field data from research vessels and autonomous systems or numerical modelling studies. They will be instrumental in delivering key areas of core-funded science, and will also lead and contribute to new funding proposals, alongside BAS scientists and external partners.

The postholder will undertake and lead the development of research projects: in studies of the population and community processes of polar plankton, their role in global biogeochemical cycles and the impacts of environmental change
The research will consider key species in polar ecosystems, in groups such as diatoms, dinoflagellates, euphausiids, copepods, salps and pteropods and examine their responses both at population and community levels to environmental change.

Key areas of research will include aspects of:

  1. Establishing the sensitivities of key plankton species to major environmental changes, such as in temperature, sea-ice and levels of ocean acidification.
  2. Understanding influences on plankton population and community level patterns of distribution and biomass, such as rapid temperature change and the loss of sea-ice.
  3. Considering the interactions between plankton life-histories and biogeochemical cycles, particularly in terms of carbon and nitrogen flux. This includes globally important processes such as the lipid- and particle injection pumps
  4. Developing analyses of the role of plankton in polar ocean food webs and particularly interactions with higher-trophic level species and linkages between benthic and pelagic systems.

This is an important role and presents an exciting opportunity to develop innovative research projects and be involved in internationally important polar plankton research. The candidate will be expected to deliver scientific work through publication in international peer-reviewed journals and be involved in studies providing data and analyses to major national and international scientific programmes and to management bodies such as CCAMLR on the role of plankton in Southern Ocean in food webs and global biogeochemical cycles. To fulfil this role, the postholder will have access to a wide range of BAS and UK facilities, including a new ice-strengthened research vessel (the RRS Sir David Attenborough) with extensive biological oceanographic sampling systems, remote observation and autonomous systems and research stations/laboratories in Cambridge, Antarctica and Svalbard (Arctic) and extensive long-term datasets.

The postholder will work as part of the Ecosystems Team, which includes scientists involved in studies of krill biology and ecology, the zooplankton influences in biogeochemical processes and the impacts of environmental stressors on zooplankton species as well as scientists developing models of the life cycles of polar oceanic species and the operation of polar ocean food webs and a group of scientists studying the feeding and population ecology of predator species (especially fish, seabirds and seals). The postholder will be expected to participate in regular polar research cruises as part of the Ecosystems Team. They will have the opportunity to propose studentships through our network of training partnerships, and be actively involved in the supervision of doctoral candidate students. They will represent BAS on diverse national and international forums, working to develop new community initiatives to develop further the research that we conduct. They will engage with key stakeholders across a range of sectors (potentially including Government, intergovernmental bodies, industry and NGOs) to increase interactions and the societally-beneficial use of our research. They will engage with the media concerning the importance of novel research findings.

We are advertising a similar role at a different level of experience to be appointed to UKRI Salary Band E. If you are interested, please visit the page. The interview process for both positions will be combined on the same week.

Please note the effective start date is from the 1st of February 2022


To take a leading role in developing world-leading research on the role of phytoplankton and zooplankton in polar ocean ecosystems. The candidate will be expected to develop polar ocean field studies, deliver core-science tasks and apply for grant-funded work in this research field. A major emphasis will be on field based studies of population processes and community ecology, considering important physical interactions, such as with water masses and sea-ice and the role of plankton in biogeochemical cycles. The studies will provide the basis for analyses of interactions of a range of plankton species in polar ocean food webs and the impacts of climate related change. If shipborne or other fieldwork is required, post-holders must be medically fit.


PhD in Marine Biology, Biological Oceanography or related subject area (e.g. zoology, fisheries science).(or equivalent)


  • As part of the Ecosystem team, the postholder will undertake and lead the development of research projects in studies of polar plankton, their life-histories, distribution, abundance, size structure and taxonomic diversity and the impacts of climate related change.
  • To publish important scientific results in internationally-leading journals, and to present at national and international conferences.
  • To line manage scientists within the Ecosystems team working on related science projects.
  • To represent BAS on national and international forums, providing strategic input to develop new science community initiatives.
  • With BAS scientists and external partners, to lead and contribute to funding proposals that will develop and enhance this area of research.
  • To engage with stakeholders concerning the use of science for influencing policymakers and the wider community.

Please quote reference: BAS 21/72
Publication date: 30 March 2021
Closing date for receipt of application forms is: 23 May 2021
Interviews are scheduled to be held: Early June

BAS is an Equal Opportunity employer. As part of our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion and promoting equality in careers in science, we hold an Athena SWAN Bronze Award and have an active Equality, Diversity and Inclusion programme of activity. We welcome applications from all sections of the community. People from ethnic minorities and disabled people are currently under-represented and their applications are particularly welcome. We operate a guaranteed interview scheme for disabled candidates who meet the minimum criteria for the job and will provide necessary adaptations for the interview. We are open to a range of flexible working options, including job sharing, to support childcare and other caring responsibilities.

Skills are listed as either Essential or Desirable. Desirable skills importance rating in parenthesis (1 is high, 5 is low)

Communication skills - a) oral skills b) written skills

  • Excellent - Essential
  • Proficient in written and spoken English language - Essential

Computer / IT skills

  • Very good - Essential
  • Excellent data analysis and statistical skills - Desirable [1]
  • Experience in statistical analyses systems - Desirable [2]

Decision Making

  • Sound and strong - Essential
  • Record of leadership in plankton science projects - Desirable [2]

Interpersonal skills

  • Good ability to work with different groups of people - Essential

Managerial ability

  • Demonstrated capacity - Essential

Numerical ability

  • Very good - Essential


  • PhD in Marine Biology, Biological Oceanography or related subject area (e.g. zoology, fisheries science).(or equivalent) - Essential

Resource Management ability

  • Demonstrated capacity - Essential
  • Evidence of leadership - Desirable [1]

Skills / Experience

  • Specific expertise in relevant aspects of plankton or Southern Ocean ecology. - Desirable [2]
  • Excellent skills and extensive experience in plankton sampling methods, experimental and laboratory studies. - Desirable [1]
  • Familiarity with biogeochemical measurements - Desirable [2]
  • Proven record of publication of excellent science in aspects of biological oceanography, plankton or fish ecology. - Essential
  • Sea-going expertise and strong project planning, management and leadership skills - Essential
  • Record of writing research grant proposals - Desirable [1]

In order to apply, please complete and upload all the application forms listed below. If you experience any issues in uploading your Application Form, please email us your complete application, making reference to the job reference and title.

If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, please visit this website before applying.

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Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Recruitment team is working remotely and cannot access the building. If you would like to apply for this job but cannot apply online, please contact us: [email protected]

If you need more information

[email protected]
+44 (0)1223 221400
+44 (0)1223 362616

The information you provide during the application process will only be used for the purpose of progressing your application, to fulfil legal or regulatory requirements where necessary or, in the case of the Equal Opportunities Monitoring Questionnaire, to help BAS meet its equal opportunities policy.

The British Antarctic Survey will not share the information you provide with any third parties, and the information will be held securely by the British Antarctic Survey whether the information is in electronic or physical format. Please note that the Equal Opportunities Monitoring Questionnaire will be detached from your application prior to the short-listing of candidates for interview.

Unsuccessful applications will be securely destroyed 6 months after the end of the recruitment process (or 1 year after the end of the recruitment process in the case of Marine Staff and AEP. The applications of successful applicants will be retained as part of their personnel file.

Further information can be found in the information notice of NERC, our parent body.