The MixITiN project

Job Description

Post Title
One Early Stage Researcher (ESR) contract within the MARIE SKŁODOWSKA-CURIE ACTIONS (Innovative Training Networks, ITN) project “MixITiN”

Grade Ph. D. Contract
Post Reference ESR 10

The MixITiN project aims to bring “… the paradigm for marine pelagic production into the 21st century: {through} incorporating mixotrophy into mainstream marine research”.

The conceptual basis upon which management tools for our ocean, seas and coasts have operated are out-of-date. Development of management tools and policies to predict fish production and global change in marine waters operates within a paradigm that builds on a simple division between “plant-like” phytoplankton and their main consumers, the microzooplankton at the base of the food chain. Recently research led by the applicants of the MixITiN programme has shown that this plant-animal paradigm represents at the least a gross simplification, if not a falsehood. The new revised paradigm recognises that most phytoplankton and as much as half the microzooplankton actually combine both plant-like photosynthesis and animal-like consumer activity within the same single-cell. This form of nutrition, “mixotrophy”, supports the growth of organisms important for food chains and biogeochemical cycles removing atmospheric CO2; mixotrophs are also causative agents in harmful algal bloom events. As a consequence of this revised paradigm, traditional laboratory and field research approaches, management policies and allied computer modelling tools, are arguably no longer fit for purpose.

The objective of MixITiN is to develop and deploy new methodologies for researching, monitoring and modelling the base of the mixotroph-centric marine food chain to aid in the updating of environmental management tools and policies. The objectives will be delivered by a team of 4 universities (Swansea University, Kobenhavns Universitet, Universite Libre De Bruxelles Universite Pierre et Marie Curie), 3 research institutions (Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Hellenic Centre for Marine Research) and 3 non-academic providers (AP Marine, Deltares, Fundacion AZTI), from 9 countries (Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Spain, UK).

MixITiN will train 11 early stage researchers (ESRs) in skill sets from molecular biology, ecophysiology and computer modelling, to environmental management, public and media engagement. The ESRs will thus be trained in multi-national and multi-disciplinary centers of excellence, with comprehensive engagement of academics as well as non-academics, to enable them to gain employment in a range of different sectors such as consultancy,

government, academic, or allied industries. The synergy of training approaches provided to the ESRs will raise their capabilities and progress the field beyond the current state-of-the-art.

A total of 11 ESRs will be appointed to staff positions in the host institutes of the project.

ESRs will be registered for a 3yr PhD with one of the MixITiN consortium universities. All ESR positions are expected to start around March 2018, and will have a duration of 36mo. Each ESR will be seconded to allied institutes and partners for periods of 2-3mo per year. All the ESRs will also participate in programmed consortium network-wide training workshops and dissemination events (e.g., conferences).

General enquires concerning the MixITiN programme should be submitted to the Project Coordinator, Dr Aditee Mitra, via


In brief, ESR10 is involved with the following sub-project.

Project Title: The role of mixotrophy in ecosystem dynamics.

Objectives: ESR10 will explore the role of mixotrophy on ecosystem functioning and biogeochemical cycles using modelling approached.

– Development/adaptation of mixotrophic models and implementation within a 3D eutrophic coastal ecosystem for Western Channel and Southern North Sea.

– Validation of model behaviour against published data and new data generated by MixITiN, including field sampling in the studied area to characterize dominant mixotroph types based on molecular biological approaches.

– Model applications (past and current simulations) to explore impact of environmental stressors (e.g., eutrophication, climate change) on ecosystem functioning and biogeochemical cycle, with a particular attention to climatic gases emissions (CO2, DMS).

– Disseminate understanding of impacts of eutrophication upon mixotroph driven changes to marine ecosystem services through scientific and public facing media.

Principal supervisor: Pr. Nathalie Gypens (, Université Libre de Bruxelles


E10.S1 Host AWI; supervisor Dr John; 3mo in Yr1. Purpose: genomic technics.

E10.S2 Host: AP Marine; supervisor Mr Petrou; 1mo in Yr2. Purpose: water quality monitoring techniques.

E10.S2 Host: AZTI; supervisor Dr Irigoien; 2mo Yr2. Purpose: molecular techniques deployment.

E10.S3 Host: AWI; supervisor Dr John; 2mo Yr3. Purpose: field data analysis.

Recruitment conditions

This is a 3 years fixed term position from approximately 1st March 2018. The gross salary (before taxes and Social Security) include a living allowance (gross EU contribution) of 3110

euros/month (multiplied by a country correction factor), plus a mobility allowance (600 euros/month) and, if eligible, a family allowance of up to 500 euros/month.

Informal enquiries are welcome and should be directed to Pr. Nathalie Gypens, at

Applications can be submitted until 10th December 2017. It is anticipated that interviews will be held around 15th January 2018.

Essential Criteria

E1. Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) must, by definition, have less than 4 years research experience at the date of signing the contract (measured from the date of award for their most recent taught degree).

E2. ESRs must not yet have a PhD or be enrolled on one.

E3. ESRs must not have resided, or undertaken employment (main activity) within the host country of the ESR for which they apply for more than 12 months in the last 3 years immediately prior to the reference recruitment date (1st March 2018).

E4. Eligibility according to EU regulations.

E5. BSc (minimum 2i grade equivalent).

E6. Masters degree in science.

E7. BSc or Masters-level degree in Biosciences, Ecology, Oceanography or a related discipline.

E8. Excellent command of the English language (oral, writing).

E9. Excellent numeric skills (data analysis &/or statistics &/or modelling).

E10. Demonstrable ability to conduct research in line with the objectives of the project.

E11. Evidence of planning skills to contribute to the research project.

E12. Ability to work alone and also as part of a multidisciplinary team.

E13. Willingness to work across complementary subject areas within the MixITiN science topic, and within public-facing media engagement.

E14. Willingness to travel within Europe.

Desirable criteria

D1. First class BSc degree and/or distinction in Masters degree.

D2. Additional European language skills (at day-to-day conversational level)

D3. Evidence of the ability to actively engage in and contribute to writing and publishing research papers, particularly for refereed journals.

D4. Evidence of the ability to contribute to public and media engagement.

D5. Experience of mathematical modelling.

D6. Experience of microbial research.

Candidates should evidence that they meet ALL of the essential criteria as well as, where relevant, the desirable criteria.

As part of the application process you will be asked to provide this evidence via a supporting statement.

Application should include a CV, transcripts of all university courses with grades, a copy of their university degree, a cover letter motivating their interest for this position and up to 2 name(s) of reference persons.

To apply please send all the documentation to mailto: