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Vacancies: 2 Positions in Aberdeen

1)POSTDOCTORAL RESEARCH FELLOW in eco-hydrological modelling

The Northern Rivers Institute, School of Geosciences, at the University of Aberdeen invites applications for a dynamic and motivated postdoctoral scientist. This post forms part of a project “PLATO: Plant-water interlinkages in northern uplands – mediation of climate change?" funded by the Leverhulme Trust. It is anticipated that the post commences in March 2015 for a period of 2.5 years. 

PLATO is an interdisciplinary project which will investigate water uptake by plants and consequent water availability in northern regions along a cross-regional climate gradient to understand future responses to change in high-latitude uplands. We will assess the role of plants in moderating water stress and possible climate change in low energy environments in the North. Project partners are Professors Sean Carey (McMaster, Canada), James Buttle (Trent University, Canada), Hjalmar Laudon (SLU, Umea, Sweden), Jeff McDonnell (University of Saskatchewan, Canada), Jim McNamara and John Bradford (both Boise State University) and Chris Soulsby (University of Aberdeen).

The post is designed to provide research support in coupled hydrological /ecohydrological modelling. Qualifications for this position include a Ph.D. in hydrology, ecology, soil science, hydrology, or a related field of environmental science or engineering. The successful candidate will have experience in the development and application of numerical models across scales in various environmental science or engineering contexts. The successful candidate should be experienced in combining process-based understanding with strong numerical / computational skills. Experience with programming in MATLAB, R or another software development tool is essential. Expertise in remote sensing & data assimilation and / or incorporation of tracers into hydrological models would be advantageous. Other advantageous background includes experience in working in interdisciplinary research projects, and working well in a team environment. Strong English language skills both in oral and written communication are required. The post is based at the University of Aberdeen but involves travel to project partners in Canada and Sweden as well. The opportunity offers significant potential for professional growth and experience in Europe and North America.

For informal enquiries or further details, please contact Professor Doerthe Tetzlaff (

Salary will be at the appropriate point on the Grade 6 salary scale (£30,424 - £32,267 per annum) with placement according to qualifications and experience. Consideration will be given to making an appointment at the Grade 5 Research Assistant level (£25,504 - £28,685) for candidates who meet the criteria but are in the process of completing their PhD. Should the PhD be attained during employment the individual would be promoted to Research Fellow. Should you require a visa to undertake paid employment in the UK you will be required to fulfil the minimum points criteria to be granted a Certificate of Sponsorship and Tier 2 visa.  As appropriate, at the time an offer of appointment is made you will be asked to demonstrate that you fulfil the criteria in respect of financial maintenance and competency in English.

APPLICATION deadline: 27th November 2014

You’d need to apply using the online system of the University of Aberdeen:


2) PhD project: Linking small-scale hydrological flow paths, connectivity and microbiological transport to protect remote private water supplies

Supervisors: Professors Doerthe Tetzlaff (University of Aberdeen, School of Geosciences), Norval Strachan (Professor in Physics/Biological Science); Dr Fiona Brennan (James Hutton Institute, Aberdeen); Dr Rupert Hough (James Hutton Institute, Aberdeen)

We are seeking dynamic and motivated applicants for a PhD studentship which aims to combine high frequency isotopic tracer and microbiological pollutant monitoring at the plot to hillslope scale in experimental headwater catchments in the Scottish Highlands. The studentship is part of the Hydro Nation Scholars Programme (Scottish Government's Hydro Nation Policy). The programme and the associated graduate school is managed on behalf of the Scottish Government by Scotland's Centre of Expertise for Waters (CREW:, drawing on its Scotland-wide water policy, industry and academic network. The Hydro Nation scholars programme is an open competition for PhD students to be hosted within Scottish Universities and Research Institutes. We would expect a first class or 2.1 BSc in hydrology, environmental sciences, ecology, microbial ecology, environmental engineering, or a related field from the successful candidate. Fluency in English is a requirement. Experience in environmental microbiology, statistical and/or numerical analyses, GIS analyses, and/ or environmental tracer applications would be advantageous.

Scientific rationale: The need to maintain the quality of waters is central to drinking water and bathing water directives, and critical for the protection of human health. Major steps in understanding how water moves through and is stored in landscapes have been facilitated by the use of conservative isotopic tracers. Tracers can be used “fingerprints” of different water to trace the movement of water in landscapes. Comparing the isotopic signature of stream, soil or groundwaters (in spring and wells) to that of precipitation can elucidate the mechanisms of how rainfall is transformed into runoff, where water is stored and how these stores are connected. In the Scottish Highlands, a significant, poorly-understood pollution issue – with important human health implications – is the transfer of pathogens from grazing animals to water bodies.

This project will seek to integrate empirical and theoretical methods of catchment hydrology, microbial ecology and risk assessment. It will build upon existing long-term studies that the supervisory team are involved in and will also make use of new laser-based stable isotopes analysis. This studentship will monitor sources of potential pathogens using indicator organisms, correlate these findings with the tracer studies to develop risk assessment maps utilising GIS based terrain analysis and hence model the risk for private water supplies.

Training: This is a major opportunity for a student interested in working at the cutting edge of hydrology, ecology and microbiology. The student will join a successful research group and a lively graduate training community at the University of Aberdeen and the James Hutton Institute, and will participate in the formal training programmes. The supervisors cover the range of disciplines (hydrology, environmental microbiology and risk assessment) required for this work. There will be close linkages and regular exchange with the Hydronation manager. The studentship will provide strong policy relevant interdisciplinary training; integrating hydrological and ecological field monitoring at the plot and hillslope scale as well as integrative modelling studies.  It will build on successful previous collaborations between the University and the James Hutton Institute. The candidate will also receive training in other aspects of scientific working such as scientific result dissemination, writing journal articles for publication and conference presentations.

If you are interested and for further queries, please contact Prof. Doerthe Tetzlaff (Northern Rivers Institute, School of Geosciences, University of Aberdeen, Scotland): For further information about research activities of the Northern Rivers Institute please check out:

If you wish to apply please use the link provided or alternatively complete the CREW Hydro Nation Application Form and return along with your current CV to

The deadline for applications is 31st December 2014.  Interviews will be held early February 2015 and positions will start on 1st October 2015.

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