PhD - Antarctic Sea Ice Evolution and Ecosystem Responses Since the Last Glacial Maximum

richard-phillipsRichard Phillips
  • 23 Jan

Fully-Funded Leverhulme Trust PhD Studentship: 'Antarctic Sea Ice Evolution and Ecosystem Responses Since the Last Glacial Maximum'
(23 January 2020)

This project, funded by the Leverhume Trust, aims to reconstruct sea-ice histories from changes in biomarkers of snow petrel diet. The project will focus on the eastern Weddell Sea, from the Last Glacial Maximum to present. The PhD student will apply a range of geochemical techniques (trace metals, stable isotope and biomarker analysis) to accumulated deposits of regurgitated stomach oils generated by snow petrels where they nest above the Antarctic ice sheet. These stomach oil deposits ('mumiyo') can be tens of thousands of years old, and preserve evidence of changing snow petrel diet and sea-ice conditions.

This project will use samples of mumiyo which have previously been collected from Antarctica by members of the supervisory team. The student will join a wider team at Durham University and the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), funded by the Leverhulme Trust; this larger project includes examination of the evolutionary history of the snow petrels using DNA analysis, and ecological modelling of long-term changes in snow petrel diet and distributions (project led by Professor Erin McClymont at Durham University).

The studentship is tenable for 42 months from October 2020, and covers UK / EU fees, a tax-free maintenance grant (set at the UK Research Council's national rate: currently £15,009), and all analytical costs. No fieldwork is planned for this project. Funding is available to support attendance at national and international conferences. The student will have access to training support through Durham University and the host department, as well as bespoke training from the supervisory team in the Department of Geography and at BAS.

The studentship is open to UK / EU candidates who hold a First or 2:1 undergraduate degree (or equivalent). English language evidence may also be required if applicants are not native speakers of English.

The deadline for applications is Wednesday 5th February, 2020.

To apply, please send the following documents to with the reference "Mumiyo-PhD":

a current CV
a cover letter (2 pages A4 max) which describes your motivation for applying and your previous research experience
letters from two references (can be sent directly to by referees)
transcripts of previous qualifications
Applications will be reviewed and shortlisted. Interviews will take place between 21st February and 4th March.

Queries about the project should be directed to Professor Erin McClymont (