PhD Studentship in Elasmobranch – ORE interactions

Closing Date: 15 Feb 2022

Contract Type: Fixed Term Whole-Time

To Apply: Submit an electronic copy of Curriculum Vitae including contact details of two referees and a one-page letter of interest to: ei.ccu@hcnyl.enniarG quoting “PhD in Elasmobranch – ORE interactions” in the email subject line.

The submission deadline for this post is 15th February 2022.

Please note that the successful candidate will have to meet all UCC requirements.


Marine renewable energy (MRE) will undergo a rapid expansion in Ireland over the next 30 years. The Irish government’s stated objectives are to have 5 gigawatts (GW) of offshore renewable energy (ORE) in place by 2030, increasing to 20 – 25 GW by 2050. Fixed turbines are the most mature of these technologies and thus the near term 5-year objective (5 GW of ORE) will most likely be met by fixed wind turbines with solid foundations at depths of less than 50 m. Given the scale of this target, the number of devices involved, the quantity of cables needed to connect everything to the Irish grid, there is a considerable need to understand the impacts these developments will have on the sensitive species. There is a substantial body of research investigating the potential impacts of ORE devices on cetaceans and seabirds, however, there are large knowledge gaps pertaining to non-protected species, particularly elasmobranchs (sharks, skates, and rays). Two of those knowledge gaps are: 1) does the electromagnetic field (EMF) generated around electrical transmission cables influence the behaviour of elasmobranchs? and 2) do the artificial reefs resulting from ORE infrastructure influence the behaviour of elasmobranchs? To address these questions, the project will use passive and active acoustic tracking, and use 3D tracking technology to gather novel data on thornback rays and catshark (dogfish) behaviour. In addition, baited remote underwater video (BRUVs) will be used to study elasmobranch distributions, as well as that of their prey.

This PhD represents an exciting opportunity to work closely within a diverse team, to learn from experienced scientists and, to develop their exciting research skills and independence. The candidate will be expected to carry out fieldwork in a challenging marine environment and collaborate with a diverse group of stakeholders including state agencies and the angling community.     


Applicants must have a good primary degree in an appropriate discipline. An MSc in Marine Biology or equivalent would be preferable, though not essential. Applicants will also need to satisfy the University’s requirements regarding English language ability.

Essential criteria

  • 1st or 2:1 BSc in appropriate discipline (e.g., Zoology, Ecology, Marine Biology)
  • Knowledge of fish and fisheries science
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Excellent communication skills in both written and oral format
  • Full driving license
  • Must be comfortable in small boats

Desirable skills

  • MSc in a related discipline
  • Experience piloting small boats
  • Diving experience and/or SCUBA qualification
  • BE category driver’s license
  • Experience of ecological and statistical modelling techniques in R


The student will be based in the Science Foundation Ireland funded MaREI Centre for Energy, Climate and Marine in Ringaskiddy, Co. Cork, and they will be registered within the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences (BEES), University College Cork. The student will be supervised by Dr Damien Haberlin of MaREI (Coastal and Marine Systems) and Dr Thomas K Doyle (BEES). The Scholarship will start on April 1st, 2022, with interviews held early in 2022. The scholarship will cover EU fees of €5,900 and a tax-free stipend of €18,500 per annum for a period of four years. UK applicants will be granted EU fee status due to the Common Travel Area with Ireland. Non-EU international students are required to make up the fee deficit (currently approx. €10,000 p.a.), however, a waiver may be applied understand certain circumstances.   

It is anticipated that the successful candidate will start the project as soon as possible after 1st April 2022, with interviews held early in 2022.

As part of a 4-year structured PhD at UCC, the student will also be required to undertake 20 credits of postgraduate modules aimed at equipping students with a range of transferable skills (e.g., project management, scientific writing, outreach & communication, and data analysis).

Further Information