Fully funded PhD - Effects of offshore wind on seabirds in Ireland

mark-jessoppMark Jessopp
  • 18 Feb '22

Marine renewable energy (MRE) will undergo a rapid expansion in Ireland over the next 30 years with fixed wind turbines in depths of less than 50 m the most likely technology to meet short to medium-term energy goals. Irish maritime waters are home to a rich diversity of seabirds including populations of international importance. Given the potential scale of developments, there is a need to understand impacts on sensitive marine species.

The PhD student will gather biotelemetry data on the habitat use, foraging cues, and behaviour of seabirds in relation to existing and planned windfarm sites. This will be combined with data on the distribution and abundance of seabirds from at-sea surveys to fill knowledge gaps and inform appropriate siting of developments. Particular emphasis will be placed on species identified as having greatest risk of collision with offshore wind turbines. Applicants must have a good primary degree in an appropriate discipline. An MSc in Marine Biology or equivalent would be preferable, though not essential. Applicants will also need to satisfy the University’s requirements regarding English language ability.

The PhD student will work in tandem with a parallel PhD study on cetaceans and postdoctoral researcher on elasmobranchs. While each position has a specific focus, there will be an expectation to assist with work across other taxa, learning from experienced scientists and developing multidisciplinary research skills and independence. The successful candidate will be expected to plan and carry out extensive fieldwork, and collaborate with a diverse group of stakeholders including academics, state agencies and the renewable energy industry.

Essential criteria

1st or 2:1 BSc in appropriate discipline (e.g., Zoology, Ecology, Marine Biology)
Experience with handling birds, preferably seabirds
Ability to work in a team
Excellent communication skills in both written and oral format
Full driving license
Must be comfortable in fieldwork conditions including accommodation in tents and use of small boats

Desirable skills

BTO ‘C’ ringing permit
MSc in a related discipline
Experience of ecological and statistical modelling in R
Experience piloting small boats
BE category driver’s license

The student will be based between the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences (BEES), University College Cork, and the MaREI Centre for Energy, Climate and Marine in Ringaskiddy, Co. Cork.

PhD scholarships 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. Non-EU international students are required to make up the fee deficit (currently approx. €10,000 p.a.), however, a waiver may be applied under certain circumstances. As part of a 4-year structured PhD at UCC, the successful applicant will also be required to undertake 20 credits of postgraduate modules aimed at providing a range of transferable skills (e.g., project management, scientific writing, outreach & communication, and data analysis).

To Apply:
Submit an electronic copy of Curriculum Vitae including contact details of two referees and a one-page letter of interest to: Grainne.lynch@ucc.ie quoting ‘CETUS Seabird PhD’ in the email subject line.

Submission deadline: 11 March 2022.
Further information can be requested from Dr Mark Jessopp, m.jessopp@ucc.ie