Student Opportunities

Graduate Student position available at USF College of Marine Science, Florida

Masters in Chemical Oceanography at USF College of Marine Science

Project Description: Iron isotope cycling in a low-oxygen Fjord

Advisor: Dr. Tim Conway

Position to begin Fall 2018.

Iron is an essential micronutrient in biogeochemical systems, and in recent years iron isotopes have been used in order to constrain cycling and sources of iron to natural waters. Successful application of this tracer, especially in models of ocean biogeochemistry and for deep time reconstructions, requires a detailed understanding of how mechanisms such as anoxic-oxic cycling fractionate iron isotopes. This project thus aims to better understand the chemistry and fractionation of Fe isotopes across water-column anoxic-oxic transitions, making use of a water column time series collected from the Saanich Inlet, British Columbia over the winter-spring of 2016/2017, allowing investigation of seasonal cycling.

The student will measure Fe concentrations and isotopes in USF's new Tampa Bay Plasma Facility, which includes an ISO-6 Clean lab dedicated for seawater processing, a SeaFast system, Thermo HR-ICPMS Element XR and Thermo MC-ICPMS Neptune. The work will be interpreted in the context of the SaanDox project and will involve collaboration with other groups working on a large range of complementary parameters. There is also potential for extension to measure other redox-active isotope systems, modelling, and participate in other scientific cruises, as well as the opportunity to present work at international conferences.

Two years of funding and analysis costs are available for a Masters Student, and this project is ideal for a student interested in global biogeochemical cycling, isotope geochemistry and trace metals. Candidates must have or expect to have a strong undergraduate background in chemical, earth or physical science. Laboratory experience in geochemistry is desirable, but not required. We strongly encourage diverse applications and equal opportunities.

The USF College of Marine Science is located on the water in sunny St Petersburg, Florida, and hosts a vibrant community of graduate students and faculty undertaking world class research in a range of oceanographic disciplines. For more information about the college please visit

Apply online and view requirements  

Applications must be received before Feb 15th 2018.

Contact Tim Conway ( for more information.

PhD position at University of Liverpool, UK

Project Description

Can Iron Isotopes Constrain the Ocean Iron Cycle?

The micronutrient iron has received growing attention in recent years due to its role in regulating biological activity over large areas of the ocean [Tagliabue et al., 2017]. While this has now highlighted that understanding the response of marine ecosystems to climate change will be underpinned by iron in many areas of the ocean, our ability to reproduce iron observations remains poor [Tagliabue et al., 2016]. One potential means to improve our understanding of different processes is by using iron isotopes. This is because there are important ‘fractionations’ in iron isotopes during specific iron cycle processes that then enrich or deplete different pools of iron in unique ways. Indeed, recent work has used iron isotopes to assess the role of iron sources [Conway and John, 2014], upper ocean recycling [Ellwood et al., 2015] and the balance between different processes along ocean transport pathways [Abadie et al., 2017]. If we had a good understanding of the importance of the relative influence of external sources and internal cycling (biological activity and scavenging) then Fe isotopes would be a powerful tool to understanding the mechanisms driving the ocean cycling of Fe. 

This PhD is fully funded by an ERC consolidator grant to Alessandro Tagliabue (, open to applicants of all nationalities and will be focussed on this exciting topic. The student and will embed a representation of the cycling iron isotopes in an existing state of the art iron model and conduct assessments of model skill and of the key underlying processes. It is expected to yield high impact publications and act as a catalyst to advancing this important aspect of ocean biogeochemistry. 

The project will involve close liaison with experts in the observation of iron isotopes and be co supervised by Seth John (USC, Los Angeles, USA) and Francois Lacan (LEGOS, Toulouse, France). There are specific funds allocated for visits to John and Lacan’s laboratories to develop the model further, as well as support to present the outcomes of the work at major international conferences. 

This project would be ideal for a student interested in global biogeochemical cycles and trace metal cycling, in particular. Ideally, the candidate will have a background in a biological, chemical or physical science and have strong numeracy skills. You will join a vibrant group of ocean scientists in Liverpool conducting world-class research. 

Deadline for applications: Friday, March 02, 2018

Apply on-line

Read more: PhD position at University of Liverpool, UK

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