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Durham University

Department of Geography

Jobs Headlines

Postdoctoral Research Associate in Organic Geochemistry (ID: 20000832)

(12 January 2021)

Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Organic Geochemistry to join the research team led by Professor Bob Hilton as part of the European Research Council (ERC)-funded 5 year project “ROC-CO2”. The post is fixed term for 15 months. The ROC-CO2 project (Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by Rock-derived Organic Carbon oxidation) aims to quantify the rates and controls on the CO2 release by chemical weathering of organic carbon in sedimentary rocks, which is a major component of the geological carbon cycle (see for further information).

A key unknown is how microbial communities help to breakdown of organic matter in rocks. There is evidence that organic carbon in rocks is bioavailable, and can support microorganisms in soils. As such, the first steps to weather rock organic carbon, and to release CO2, may be the assimilation into a live microbial biomass.

The PDRA will assess this using organic geochemistry techniques to characterise and track the abundance of live microbial biomass (e.g. Phospholipid Fatty Acids), alongside complimentary information provided by microbial community profiling. The PDRA will focus on shale samples collected across four seasons, with large changes in temperature, from two field sites at the Draix Bleone Observatory in France. The samples have been collected and stored for these specific analyses. Additional field sampling may be possible, depending on the skills and interests of the PDRA.

The applicant will have experience of organic geochemistry techniques applied to sediment samples (e.g. soils, river or marine sediments) and/or experience in culture independent molecular microbial techniques.

Successful applicants will, ideally, be in post by 1st March 2021 

How to Apply 

For informal enquiries please contact Dr Bob Hilton (, 00 44 191 33 41970). All enquiries will be treated in the strictest confidence. 

We prefer to receive applications online via the Durham University Vacancies Site.

As part of the application process, you should provide details of 3 (preferably academic/research) referees and the details of your current line manager so that we may seek an employment reference. 

Applications are particularly welcome from women and black and minority ethnic candidates, who are under-represented in academic posts in the University .

Closing Date: 4th February, 2021. 11:59:00pm