University of Cambridge

Job Opportunities


Research Assistant/Associate in Geochemistry of Marine Calcification Mechanisms (Fixed Term)

We seek a Postdoctoral Research Assistant / Associate (PDRA) to join a multidisciplinary project "Building Shells: Towards a Mechanistic Understanding of Biomineralisation" funded by the Leverhulme Trust.

The successful candidate will work closely with the PI and a PhD student to measure the trace element and isotopic composition of calcium carbonate biominerals produced by marine calcifying organisms (corals, foraminifera, coccolithophores) grown under controlled conditions in laboratory and field settings.

The experimental conditions will be designed to examine the pathways of ion transport and processes of crystal growth in biomineralisation, and will push organisms beyond conditions they experience in the wild. The task of this PDRA will be to characterise, as comprehensively as possible, how the geochemistry of the minerals produce by these organisms responds to those same conditions.

These measurements will form part of a large, cross-disciplinary project involving measurements of the physiology and transcriptome of the organisms (1 PDRA + 1 PhD student), which will be combined with geochemical data produce by this PDRA to inform computational modelling of biomineralisation processes (1 PDRA + 1 PhD student). Together, these data will provide a comprehensive biological and geochemical dataset to inform our understanding of biomineralisation mechanisms and the 'recording' or palaeoceanographic proxies.

The successful candidate will have (or be about to obtain) a PhD in the broad area of Geochemistry, with PhD-level experience in one or more of: (i) measurement of trace elemental composition of carbonate minerals (e.g. Mg/Ca, Sr/Ca, Ba/Ca, B/Ca, etc.) and associated sample preparation techniques; (ii) measurement of the isotopic composition of carbonate minerals and their trace elements (e.g. d7Li, d11B, d13C, d24Mg, d44Ca, etc.) and associated sample preparation techniques; (iii) independently running solution or laser ablation mass spectrometry instruments to analyse complex samples, and associated processing and interpretation of data. A willingness to work alongside researchers from diverse research backgrounds, and an interest in becoming involved in culturing the marine organisms are also desirable.

The research will involve lab- and field-based experiments, and make extensive use state-of-the-art Geochemistry labs in the Department of Earth Sciences, including (but not limited to) trace metal clean labs, ThermoFisher iCap-Q, Neptune and Neoma mass spectrometers, and an Analyte G2 Laser Ablation system.

All necessary training will be provided, and the candidate will be mentored and supported in developing their career and research interests. The logistical constraints of the research will require the successful candidate to be based in Cambridge.

Start date: Ideally before January 2025.

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available for three years in the first instance.

Salary ranges: Research Associate: £36,024 - £44,263 (Grade 7). Appointment at Research Associate level is dependent on having a PhD. Those who have submitted but not yet received their PhD, will initially be under-appointed as a Research Assistant (Grade 5, Point 38 - £32,982), moving to Research Associate (Grade 7) upon confirmation of their PhD award.

Further information on the role can be found in the Further Particulars document.

Please contact Oscar Branson ( to discuss further details if you are interested in applying for this position.

Please ensure that you upload your Curriculum Vitae (CV), a covering letter and publications list in the upload section. If you upload any additional documents that have not been requested they will not be considered as part of your application.

We anticipate interviews being held online in early August.

Deadline: midnight (UTC) 25th July 2024

Click the 'Apply' button below to register an account with our recruitment system (if you have not already) and apply online.

Further information on the role can be found in the Further Particulars document.

We anticipate interviews being held online in early August.

Please quote reference LB41062 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

The University actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion and encourages applications from all sections of society.

The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.

Further information

Apply online