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Research Assistant in Offshore Wind Development: Environmental and Economic Challenges

Are you an aspiring researcher with a broad background in engineering, geology or geography? Do you want to make a difference by delivering research to underpin robust, sustainable and just climate and energy solutions? Do you want to develop your skills in trans-disciplinary research, and equip yourself with the expertise needed to link geoscience and engineering knowledge for sustainable, just development?

The University of Leeds has world-leading expertise in subsurface characterization, resource exploration, geoengineering and tectonics through its long-established oil and gas, fundamental tectonic, metamorphic and geophysical research and teaching programmes. In response to the University’s bold climate crisis policy announcement, we aim to harness this expertise to focus on the challenges relating directly to decarbonising the energy supply: energy/heat storage, and subsurface disposal and storage. We have a wealth of knowledge, expertise and skills to be applied to these areas as we work together with the Sustainability Research Institute and the Priestley International Centre for Climate, towards a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions future for our campus, regionally, nationally and globally.

These innovative transdisciplinary projects are aimed to address a significant gap in understanding of potential geoenergy opportunities, social acceptance, barriers and technologies for a just energy transition in line with Net Zero Carbon ambitions. These projects will set a novel standard of how to approach sustainable geoenergy solutions, developing a set of briefing notes and academic outputs to inform decision makers at multiple scales of governance. Our approach will evaluate the challenges and opportunities of a geoenergy problem from the geoscience and social/governance perspectives – a necessity if we are to deliver sustainable, just and responsible solutions for the energy transition. Each pair of projects will be co-supervised by an academic lead from the geosciences and an environmental social scientist.

You will have an undergraduate or Master’s degree in geoscience or a closely allied discipline. You will be eager to work in a team of geoscientists and social scientists to enhance the portfolio of the University of Leeds in contributing to Sustainable Geoscience based solutions in the Energy Transition. You will have a strong background in engineering, geology or geography and have excellent communication, planning and team working skills.

This position focuses on identifying the environmental and economic challenges to delivering a sustainable offshore wind industry. Offshore wind is set to power 30% of UK electricity by 2030, but to do this, it is important to reduce project and overall system costs, so that future projects can move towards a subsidy free world. This post will focus on researching the environmental and economic challenges to offshore wind, that geoscience is able to contribute too, as part of the global energy transition. You will work closely with your partner social scientist.

To explore the post further or for any queries you may have, please contact:

Dr Rachael Spraggs, Director Institute of Applied Geoscience

Tel: +44 (0)113 343 3057, email: 

Dr Natasha Barlow, Associate Professor in Quaternary Environmental Change

Tel: +44 (0)113 343 3761, email:

Location:  Leeds - Main Campus
Faculty/Service:  Faculty of Environment
School/Institute:  School of Earth and Environment
Category:  Research
Grade:  Grade 6
Salary:  £27,511 to £32,817 p.a.
Working Time:  100% - we will consider job share / flexible working arrangements
Post Type:  Full Time
Contract Type:  Fixed Term (until 31 July 2020 (to start no later than 1 April 2020) - due to external funding)
Release Date:  Monday 16 March 2020
Closing Date:  Monday 30 March 2020
Reference:  ENVEE1392
Downloads:  Candidate Brief  

The closing date for this job opportunity has now passed, and applications are no longer being accepted for this position

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