Research Associate (Quantitative Ecology)

Department of Geography

London, Strand Campus


  • Posted on: 11th Feb 2021
  • Salary: £38,304 Per Annum, Including London Weighting
  • REF: 015985
  • Closes: 07th March 2021
  • Contract Type: Fixed-Term/Contract
  • Hours: Full Time

Job description

The Department of Geography at King’s College London invites applications for a postdoctoral research associate (PDRA) in quantitative ecology. The post will be based in the research team of Dr Jane Catford at KCL’s Strand Campus in central London, and will be one of four new PDRA appointments.

The position will be funded by a 5-year European Research Council Consolidator Grant (ALIENIMPACTS). ALIENIMPACTS aims to develop an approach for predicting impacts of alien plant invasions on plant community diversity, using temperate grasslands as a model system.

This post will help to test competing hypotheses that describe how alien plants can reduce community diversity, and will examine and quantify fitness differences between alien invaders and co-occurring native species. Core research for the PDRA will include: analysing data from the globally replicated grassland experiment, the Nutrient Network; and analysing global observational data about plant functional traits and demography. The post will require collaboration with a wide range of international scientists, management and integration of disparate, large datasets, and creative application of GIS and statistical approaches, including convergent cross mapping.

Key collaborators include Prof. Elizabeth Borer (U. Minnesota), Prof. Eric Seabloom (U. Minnesota), Prof. Yvonne Buckley (Trinity College Dublin), Assoc. Prof. Rob Salguero-Gomez (U. Oxford) and other members of the ALIENIMPACTS team. There will opportunities for additional related research.

The Department of Geography is committed to equality, diversity and inclusion, and has a vibrant, friendly and international research culture, which includes approximately 30 postdocs and 100 PhD students. The PDRA will be part of an active group of ecologists in the department, and will have many opportunities for professional development including funding to attend meetings and workshops, and opportunities to co-mentor students and collaborate with other scientists and groups.

The post will be responsible to Jane Catford. The project and position begin in April 2021, though a slightly later start date will be considered if required. For questions or further information, please email

Contract Type
This post will be offered on an fixed-term contract for 30 months (2.5 years).
This is advertised as a full-time post (100% full time equivalent), but flexible and part-time working arrangements will be considered.

Key responsibilities

  • Liaise with NutNet consortium and other providers of data used in the project
  • Source, compile, manage and analyse data in R and GitHub
  • Analyse data using modern ecological statistical and modelling tools, such as mixed effects models, structural equation models and convergent cross mapping
  • Prepare and publish peer-reviewed scientific publications
  • Attend and present research at national and international conferences
  • Contribute positively to an inclusive, diverse and collegial working environment, including co-mentoring (with Jane Catford) undergradate, MSc and PhD students

The above list of responsibilities may not be exhaustive, and the post holder will be required to undertake such tasks and responsibilities as may reasonably be expected within the scope and grading of the post.
Skills, knowledge, and experience

Essential criteria

  • PhD in ecology or related area of biological sciences
  • Evidence of ability to publish peer-reviewed papers in internationally recognised journals
  • Knowledge of invasion ecology and community ecology
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team
  • Proficient with and experienced in quantitative methods
  • Experience with, or the necessary computing skills to learn, some of the following types of analyses: structural equation modelling, mixed effects models, Bayesian modelling, convergent cross mapping
  • Ability to manage and integrate large, diverse datasets, and conduct, interpret and understand common ecological statistics in R
  • Experience with, or the necessary computing skills to learn, project management in GitHub, web scraping, GIS
  • Commitment to working collaboratively and respectfully with colleagues at all levels of experience, and willingness to be an active participant in lab group activities, such as lab meetings, lab projects and mentoring of students
  • Effective oral and written communication skills

Desirable criteria

  • Knowledge of evolutionary biology, phylogenetics, ecophysiology, demography and functional traits
  • Experience reconciling taxonomic names
  • Experience working with functional traits and data derived from large data repostitories
  • Experienced in experimental design in the context of observational and experimental field ecology

*Please note that this is a PhD level role but candidates who have submitted their thesis and are awaiting award of their PhDs will be considered. In these circumstances the appointment will be made at Grade 5, spine point 30 with the title of Research Assistant. Upon confirmation of the award of the PhD, the job title will become Research Associate and the salary will increase to Grade 6.

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