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PhD Opportunities

This lists details the PhD projects that we are aware of. They are by no means exhaustive and the institutions listed, and others, may well be offering additional projects. Further details for many of these projects are already available on institutional websites. Note that application deadlines can be as early as January, and interviews usually take place during the period January-April.

To add a PhD opportunity please use our online form: Add a PhD Opportunity.

Notices with expiry dates before this date are not shown.
You may filter by the project funding statues.
Institution: University of Cambridge
Supervisor(s): Dr Neil Davies (University of Cambridge), Dr Alex Liu (University of Cambridge)
Funding Status: Funding is in competition with other projects and students
Description: The Ediacaran Period was a crucial interval for the evolution of metazoan life on Earth. Enigmatic fossils of originally soft-bodied organisms are well known from localities worldwide, and there is strong interest in understanding their biological affinities and the environments in which they lived. More information...
Expiry Date: Thursday, January 3, 2019
Institution: University of Cambridge
Supervisor(s): Dr Neil Davies (University of Cambridge)
Funding Status: Funding is in competition with other projects and students
Description: Amongst many abiotic-biotic feedbacks observable in modern environments, one crucial role is that which plants play in moderating processes and landforms in rivers. Studies into such modern interactions commonly cite a geological observation that ancient rivers left a fundamentally different sedimentary record prior to the evolution of land plants. However, Earth's oldest vegetation was dominated by extinct lineages, with physiological traits and environmental effects that may not fully be analogous to modern flora. More information...
Expiry Date: Thursday, January 3, 2019
Institution: University of Cambridge
Supervisor(s): Dr Neil Davies (University of Cambridge)
Funding Status: Funding is in competition with other projects and students
Description: Mudrock is a crucial geological lithology, both as an archive of sedimentary environments and a regulating component of the Earth system (sequestering chemically-weathered clays). Ongoing research suggests the deposition of mudrock throughout Earth history has not been uniformitarian: the evolution of land plants in the Palaeozoic provided the means of both producing more mud through weathering, and retaining more mud in sedimentary conduits (rivers) through binding and baffling. More information...
Expiry Date: Thursday, January 3, 2019
Institution: University of Leeds
Supervisor(s): Dr Graeme T. Lloyd (University of Leeds), Dr Katie E. Davis (University of York), Prof Paul Wignall (University of Leeds)
Funding Status: Funding is in competition with other projects and students
Description: Living reptiles – the group that includes turtles, lizards, snakes, crocodiles, and birds – represent a highly successful radiation of terrestrial vertebrates containing roughly four times as many species as their sister clade, the mammals. Explaining this numerical superiority is complex, especially as reptiles are often thought of as being more constrained by abiotic (“Court Jester”) factors, such as climate, than their mammalian counterparts (Mannion et al. 2015). On the other hand, reptiles are also considered more resistant to mass extinctions (Longrich et al. More information...
Expiry Date: Tuesday, January 8, 2019
Institution: University of East Anglia
Supervisor(s): Dr Nikolai Pedentchouk (University of East Anglia), Dr Mark Chapman (University of East Anglia), Prof. Paul Denis (University of East Anglia)
Funding Status: Funding is in competition with other projects and students
Description: One of the most extreme global warming events in the geologic past took place at the boundary between the Palaeocene and Eocene. This Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) occurred ~ 56 million years ago and is considered to be one of the closest analogues for investigating possible effects of anthropogenically released carbon on the Earth system. Several possible carbon sources have been proposed for this event, however, there is a lack of studies integrating geochemical and biological data to explore the link between climate perturbations and palaeoecological changes during the PETM. More information...
Expiry Date: Tuesday, January 8, 2019
Institution: Imperial College, London
Supervisor(s): Dr Mark Sutton (Imperial College, London), Dr Phil Mannion (University College, London)
Funding Status: Funding is in competition with other projects and students
Description: The Latitudinal Biodiversity Gradient (LBG), the phenomenon where biodiversity increases along a pole-to-equator transect, is one of the most widely recognized patterns in macroecology. Many mechanisms for LBG generation have been proposed but the relative merit of these explanations, and the ways in which they might have interacted to produce the observed gradient, remain poorly resolved. In part, this is because of the simplicity of the pattern observed in the Recent. More information...
Expiry Date: Tuesday, January 8, 2019
Institution: University of Leeds
Supervisor(s): Dr Alex Dunhill (University of Leeds), Dr Andrew Beckerman (University of Sheffield), Dr Jennifer Dunne (Santa Fe Institute), Prof Paul Wignall (University of Leeds)
Funding Status: Funding is in competition with other projects and students
Description: Background The diversity of modern marine animals has increased dramatically over the past 230 million years, beginning with an event called the Mesozoic Marine Revolution (MMR). Over this period, marine fauna has gradually developed from sessile, epifaunal benthic assemblages in the Palaeozoic and early Mesozoic to more motile and structured/tiered communities we see today through the Late Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous. Is there evidence of changes in trophic structure and trait evolution that indicate evolutionary escalation in Mesozoic oceans? More information...
Expiry Date: Tuesday, January 8, 2019
Institution: University of Bristol
Supervisor(s): Jakob Vinther (University of Bristol), Ian Bull (University of Bristol), Robert Kelsh (University of Bath)
Funding Status: Funding is in competition with other projects and students
Description: The fossil record holds crucial evidence for the nature and evolution of the biosphere. Exceptionally preserved fossils hold crucial cues to the nature of extinct organisms, but due to their rarity they are precious and difficult to probe. There are still major conceptual gaps in our understanding of fossilisation processes: What processes lead to preservation and what original biomolecules are retained and how are they altered during diagenesis? More information...
Expiry Date: Wednesday, January 9, 2019
Institution: University of Edinburgh
Supervisor(s): Dr Stephen Brusatte (University of Edinburgh), Dr Nick Fraser (National Museums Scotland), Dr Neil Clark (Hunterian, University of Glasgow), Dr Mark Wilkinson (University of Edinburgh)
Funding Status: Funding is in competition with other projects and students
Description: Pterosaurs—commonly known as ‘pterodactyls’—are some of the most iconic extinct animals. These dinosaur cousins were the first vertebrates to evolve flight, and thrived for over 100 million years during the Mesozoic Era. Very little is known, however, about their evolution during the Middle Jurassic, due to a global lack of fossils. This is frustrating because this interval was likely a critical time in pterosaur history, when they transitioned from small, long-tailed, primitive forms into the great diversity of species that characterized their Mesozoic heyday. More information...
Expiry Date: Thursday, January 10, 2019
Institution: University of Exeter
Supervisor(s): Dr. Xiaoya Ma (University of Exeter), Dr. Paul Kenrick (Natural History Museum, London), Dr. Greg Edgecombe FRS (Natural History Museum, London)
Funding Status: Funding is in competition with other projects and students
Description: The Rhynie chert is an Early Devonian geological site in Scotland (circa 407 million-years old), which preserves the oldest known land ecosystem, including plants, animals, fungi, algae and bacteria. The quality of fossil preservation in the Rhynie chert is astonishing, encompassing the most intact fossilised remains from a Palaeozoic terrestrial ecosystem, including preservation of cellular and ultrastructural details. More information...
Expiry Date: Thursday, January 10, 2019

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