To contribute to research on the impact of environmental pollution on biodiversity and human health. The post holder will have demonstrated skills in bioinformatics and artificial intelligence/machine learning to work on biological, chemical and environmental data collected from freshwater ecosystems. The ultimate goal of this research is identify targets for Ecosystem Services conservation, and pollutants prioritization for mitigation interventions. The post holder will ultimately contribute to make the environment a safer place.
Main Responsibilities (as appropriate to the specific role and purpose)
Chemical pollution is recognized as one of the main causes of Earth’s ecosystem services deterioration and overuse, linked to the loss of biodiversity (ecosystems complexity and species richness). Ecosystem services directly affect human wellbeing and socio-economic welfare. Yet, we are unable to design preventive interventions that mitigate this loss and preserve natural resources because biodiversity loss happens on different spatial and temporal scales and dynamics are context-dependent outcomes from processes operating over many years. State of the art monitoring and prevention approaches fail to capture the complexity of causal links between pollution and biodiversity loss by studying the effects of unrealistic concentrations of individual compounds on indicator species and by taking only single snapshots of the long-term dynamics. These approaches are also largely correlative and missing, by design, potential pathological effects that may arise from chronic exposures to sublethal doses of chemical mixtures on ecosystems. Only by quantifying trajectories of abiotic and biotic systemic change before, during and after pollution events, can we begin to identify the causes of biodiversity and ecosystem services loss and, thus, implement informed preventive and remedial interventions that benefit the environment and humans, while enabling growth.
The post holder will use biological, chemical and environmental data collected from sedimentary archives of watersheds to quantify past biotic and abiotic changes and establish causal links between chemical mixtures and systemic loss of biodiversity, ecosystem functions and services. Sedimentary archives preserve biological and environmental signals temporally, providing a continuous record of changes from pristine (unimpacted, dating back to pre-industrial revolution) to impacted environments. Just like using a time machine, we go back in time and reconstruct a library of biological, environmental and functional changes at a yearly resolution. By studying sedimentary archives at a continental scale and across climatic regions, we achieve an unprecedented understanding of the spatio-temporal impacts of chemicals on ecosystems and their services.
The responsibilities of the post holder include:
· Carry out bioinformatics data analysis on environmental DNA extracted from lake sedimentary archives (metabarcoding and metagnomics)
· Develop appropriate artificial intelligence/machine learning pipelines for the analysis of community dynamics through time and space
· Apply and/or develop machine learning algorithms to discover causal associations among biotic changes in communities (measured through eDNA), chemical pollutants (measure through mass spectrometry analysis) and environmental factors (e.g. Temperature, precipitations, etc.).
· Develop machine learning algorithms for the prediction of biological communities change under future climate and pollution scenarios by training machine learning algorithms on long-term empirical data that incorporate biotic interactions
· Support the work and development of PhD students in research related work
· Contribute to satellite projects in the field of biodiversity and functional genomics through interdisciplinary collaborations
· Develop research objectives and proposals for own or joint research, with assistance of a mentor if required
· Contribute to writing bids for research funding
· Apply knowledge in a way which develops new intellectual understanding
· Disseminate research findings for publication, research seminars etc
· Contribute to enterprise, business development and/or public engagement activities of manifest benefit to the College and the University, often under supervision of a project leader
· Present research outputs, including drafting academic publications
· Deal with problems that may affect the achievement of research objectives and deadlines*
Scope of the Role (as appropriate to the specific role and purpose):
· Work within biodiversity and pollution monitoring and develop toolkits that enable the translation of fundamental science into application for end-users and investors beyond biodiversity conservation applications
· Operate within bioinformatics, biostatistics and artificial intelligence
· Analyse and interpret research findings and results obtained from community-level analysis of biodiversity, ecosystem functions and ecosystem services
· Contribute to generating research funding
· Contribute to engagement with end users (e.g. environment agencies, biomonitoring etc)
· Contribute to research in the group in related fields
Skills and Experience (as appropriate to the specific role and purpose)
· PhD-degree with postdoctoral experience over 3 years
· Fluency in bioinformatics, biostatistics and machine learning (at least two of these skills are required).
· High level analytical and interpretation capabilities
· Knowledge of coding languages (e.g. python, R, C++)
· Ability to communicate complex information clearly
· Ability to contribute to developing new frameworks in forecast modelling is not a requirement but will be considered a valuable skill
· Ability to assess resource requirements and use resources effectively
· Understanding of and ability to contribute to broader management/administration processes
· Candidates with experience in biological and/or environmental data are preferred
Planning and Organising (as appropriate to the specific role and purpose)
· Contribute to the planning and organising of the research project and of the work of students that contribute to the project
· Co-ordinate own work with others to avoid conflict or misunderstanding. The research group is highly cross disciplinary and collaboration is encouraged
Decision Making (as appropriate to the specific role and purpose)
· Demonstrate a high level of independence and leadership
· Decide in consultation with the principal investigator as appropriate, on the most appropriate way of undertaking the specified research activities
· Decide in consultation with the principal investigator as appropriate how to analyse and interpret the data from the specified research activities
· Decide in consultation with the principal investigator as appropriate what knowledge to draw on and how to apply it to develop new intellectual understanding
· Contribute to deciding what information to include in a bid for research funding and how to present the bid to maximise the likelihood of securing the funding
· Decide in collaboration with co-authors which aspects of the research findings to include in a presentation or a publication and how to convey the findings
· Give guidance, support and advice to students on research related work including PhD students and decide the most appropriate method of providing this supervision.
Internal/External Relationships (as appropriate to the specific role and purpose)
· Liaise with research staff and support staff on research-related matters
· Liaise with external collaborators in a professional and constructive way.
· Give presentations at national and/or international conferences and seminars
· Referee articles for peer-reviewed academic journals
· Liaise with the relevant external research community via seminars and conferences
· Participate in internal networks for the exchange of information and to form relationships for future collaboration
· Liaise with external clients of the University or members of the public
Tagged as: Computer Science, Environmental Science
Position Details Centre for Systems Modelling and Quantitative Biomedicine, Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research, College of Medical and Dental...Apply