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Applications are now closed for our main admissions round for PhD studentships starting in October 2018. 

If you would like to be informed when applications open for October 2019 entry, please email David/Alison at

You can also view a list of PhD studentships previously funded by EnvEast.


Due to unforeseen circumstances, one PhD studentship is open for applications until 8 February 2018 (details below).

Please read the recruitment introduction for more information about eligibility, how to apply, and possibilities for further funding.

Biogenic trace gas production by seaweeds: exploring the impacts of worldwide aquaculture expansion (MALIN_UENV18EE)

Project description

Selected other supervisors:
Professor Bill Sturges (UEA)
Dr Michael Cunliffe (Marine Biological Association of the UK)
Professor Siew Moi Phang (University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur)

Scientific Background
Seaweeds are major components of coastal ecosystems worldwide. Alongside microalgae, they provide essential ecosystem services including using carbon dioxide and producing oxygen. Our research shows they are also remarkable producers of trace gases that contain halogens (Br, Cl and/or I) or sulphur. Such gases are important for global biogeochemical cycles, chemical reactions in the atmosphere, cloud formation and climate.     

This PhD is an exciting opportunity to advance understanding of trace gas production by seaweeds, today and in the future. With climate changing and the population increasing, demand for food, fuel, feed and other products are increasing pressure on marine resources. Seaweed production has increased 20-fold since 1970 and has helped people escape poverty in disadvantaged coastal areas. Your challenge is to investigate whether trace gases from worldwide expansion of seaweed farming could have important consequences for the climate.

Use gas chromatography mass spectrometry to examine trace gas production for a range of lab-grown or field-collected temperate and tropical seaweeds.  
Experimentally determine how current and future conditions (light, temperature, nutrients, CO2,) influence seaweed trace gas production.
Investigate whether seaweed-derived organics and sea surface microlayer bacteria reduce trace gases emissions.
Explore future scenarios for seaweed aquaculture in terms of environmental impacts and the positive social contexts for aquaculture. Could low trace gas/strong microlayer seaweeds be selected to reduce emissions?

Supervisory team
Based at the University of East Anglia (Dr Gill Malin, Prof Bill Sturges, Dr Emma Elvidge), this studentship will include travel/research opportunities with co-supervisors Prof Siew Moi Phang (University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur) and Dr Michael Cunliffe (Marine Biological Association, Plymouth). We are a strong multidisciplinary team with excellent track records for research on algae, trace gases and microlayers.   

You will develop advanced lab and field research skills plus transferable skills to help in your future career.    

Candidate Profile
This project would suit a self-motivated student, with a good experimental skills and practical ingenuity. Relevant analytical skills and an appreciation of algae would be ideal. You should have/anticipate at least a 2i BSc and/or an MSc in the Biological, Chemical or Environmental Sciences.

Candidates must be available to speak to supervisors about their application on 9 February 2018.

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the EnvEast NERC Doctoral Training Partnership, comprising the Universities of East Anglia, Essex and Kent, with twenty other research partners.

Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed at UEA on 12 February 2018.

Successful candidates who meet RCUK’s eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC studentship. In most cases, UK and EU nationals who have been resident in the UK for 3 years are eligible for a full award. In 2018/19, the stipend will be £14,777.

Application deadline
The deadline for applications ot this project is 8 February 2018.