PhD on ecosystem restoration & plant-soil feedbacks

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Grass: more engaging than Game of Thrones. 

Applications are now open for a fully funded PhD position at the University of Southampton, UK starting in the 2018/2019 academic year under the supervision of Bjorn Robroek, Robert Griffiths and me.

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The project will examine the potential for plant-soil interactions to enhance ecosystem restoration with opportunities to work in Swedish peatlands and US grasslands.

Information about the project and how to apply can be found here. Applications will close on 5 January 2018.

Please contact me on j.a.catford@soton.ac.uk with additional questions.

Sunshine and visitors

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Esti, Luis and Alan make the most of the sunshine at New Forest NP

Long days, warm weather, dry roads and visitors. I love summer!

Esti Palma from the University of Melbourne and Dr Luis Mata from RMIT University (and, the all-important, Alan Mata) came to visit for a couple of weeks recently. They both gave excellent talks to our ecology group in Biological Sciences.

Luis spoke about “The Little Things That Run the City”, drawing on the pioneering work in Melbourne where Luis and other folk from RMIT are joining forces with Melbourne City Council to bring biodiversity into the city – and to make people aware of, and value, it. They’ve produced a beautiful children’s book as part of this work. I’m looking forward to seeing the other things that this innovative and productive group produce.

Esti focused on her invasive species traits work where she is using 80 plant species to test whether it is more informative to separate invasive species into different “types” based on their dimension of invasiveness, or whether it doesn’t matter if all species are lumped into one category. Early results seem to point to the former – but watch this space!

Esti also spoke briefly about her work that shows trait-based trends in the types of species that are being both lost from and gained in cities. As a bit of extra excitement, Esti’s paper featured on the cover of Ecography.  

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John and fellow Southamptonite, Bjorn Robroek, enjoying a cleansing ale after a walk along the River Itchen (we did talk ecology, promise!).

While talking about sunny visitors, it would be remiss of me not to mention Dr John Dwyer from the University of Queensland who stopped to say hello in June.

John also educated us with a talk, this time on how trait covariance can help us understand biodiversity trends along environmental gradients. Some really lovely work by John and Daniel Laughlin.

 

Moving to the University of Southampton

In July, I will be shifting my office some 17,107 km to the University of Southampton. I’ll be starting a lectureship (equivalent of Assistant Professor) in Community Ecology in the Centre for Biological Sciences where I’ll be part of the Environmental Biosciences research group.

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A short stroll from campus, the River Itchen. (Source: JAC)

A member of the UK’s Russell Group, Southampton is one of the leading teaching and research universities in the UK and is currently ranked 81st in the World by the QS World Rankings 2015. Students come from across the UK and from over 135 other countries, making it an exciting place for researchers, teachers and students.

It is also in a great – and the sunniest! – part of the UK. An hour and twenty minutes from central London, it is on the south coast, nestled between New Forest and South Downs National Parks, which are less than 20 km away. Southampton has a local airport with flights throughout Europe and Heathrow is less than an hour away, making national and international travel easy.

I’m incredibly excited about establishing a lab and research program in Southampton. I’ll be actively trying to grow my lab, so please get in touch if you’re interested in working with me as a student, postdoc or collaborator. I’ve got ideas for potential projects but would love to hear others. You can reach me on: catfordj[at]unimelb.edu.au.

For those interested in postgraduate research, here are some starting points for information on courses, scholarships and life in Southampton:

http://www.southampton.ac.uk/biosci/postgraduate/research_degrees/courses.page

http://www.southampton.ac.uk/courses/how-to-apply/postgraduate-applications.page

http://www.southampton.ac.uk/uni-life.page

http://www.southampton.ac.uk/uni-life/international.page

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Location, location.
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