Soil Microbial Informatician

Bangor University

Applications are invited for the above position as a Postdoctoral Research Officer in soil microbial ecology. This is a post working in the School of Natural Sciences, on a Horizon EU-funded research project devising indicator systems for monitoring soil biodiversity change across European agricultural landscapes.
The research will focus on deploying models from existing soil microbiome datasets to provide predictive benchmarking tools relating to soil biodiversity status applicable at EU scales. Working with many EU academic, industry and policy project partners, a key focus will be to test the system on new data collected across the project and integrate into novel rapid monitoring systems examining above and belowground change in response to management intervention.

Candidates should be educated to PhD level in relevant subject (microbial ecology, encompassing molecular informatics and ideally experience of soil data), or be very near completion, and experience of handling microbiome datasets is essential along with skills in wider data analytics via either R or python languages. The successful candidate will be expected to commence as soon as possible, and the post is offered as a fixed term appointment for a period of 30 months.

This role will be located within the Environment Centre Wales at Bangor. Through our Dynamic Working framework , there will also be the option to spend some time working remotely (although remaining in the UK) to support work life balance, which will be discussed further with candidates at interview. 

Applications will also be considered to carry out this role on a part-time or job share basis

Applications will only be accepted via our on-line recruitment website, However, in cases of access issues due to disability, paper application forms are available by telephoning 01248 383865.

Interested applicants are welcome to contact Dr Rob Griffiths for further information about the project: [email protected]
Closing date for applications:26 June 2023

Committed To Equal Opportunities



The College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering at Bangor University is one of the leading centres in the UK for teaching and research in a range of science subjects. With over 2,500 students and 350 academic, technical and administrative staff, the College consists of three academic schools: Natural Sciences; Ocean Sciences; and Computer Science & Electronic Engineering.


The School of Natural Sciences conducts world-leading research and teaching across a diverse range of topics including zoology, biology, forestry, geography, agriculture and conservation. With Bangor University being based in stunning North Wales the school is the obvious choice for students and researchers interested in the natural world and environment. Alongside having the forests and mountains of Snowdonia, and the cliffs and sandy beaches of Anglesey on our doorstep, the School of Natural Sciences also boasts cutting-edge laboratories and analysis equipment, a botanic garden, research farm, animal care facilities, aquariums, growth rooms and greenhouses, and a natural history museum.

The Project

This 2.5 year post doctoral position is to deliver science outputs on the recently awarded Horizon EU-funded research project “BioMonitor4CAP”. This large pan European project has a total budget of ~ €7million and involves >20 academic, policy and industry partners.The BioMonitor4CAP project will develop, evaluate and test affordable and reliable systems for monitoring biodiversity that can successfully be applied on agricultural land as well as on E.U.’s designated Natura 2000 sites. It will combine classical biodiversity indicator systems with new technological approaches, including acoustic, optical and molecular systems. The project will provide recommendations for adapted management practices and thus to strengthen biodiversity on farms internationally as well as to support the development of EU biodiversity policies.

At Bangor Rob Griffiths will lead the delivery of work in WP2 developing soil biodiversity indicators of land use applicable at EU scales, and informing on ecosystem status and health derived from eDNA data. This will involve development of spatially aware predictive models of function linked taxon abundances and formalising reporting and benchmarking metrics using existing data,; and then application to project collected datasets spanning relevant land uses in agronomic settings across the EU.

Purpose of the Job

The post is part of a new team lead by Rob Griffiths (recent appointee Professor Environmental Microbiology) working in the area of predictive soil microbiome research. The project involves the novel use of predictive biodiversity models for “eDNA”  derived taxa, and application to policy focused benchmarking systems informing on soil biodiversity status in response to management intervention. The research outcomes will inform EU actions for broader biodiversity monitoring in response to CAP reform, as well as producing novel scientific outputs.

The post holder will be responsible for development of models from existing datasets held by Griffiths or publicly available, and then testing efficacy in application across EU soils. The post holder will be responsible for producing research outputs, deliverable reports, and liaising with external and internal partners.

Main Duties and Responsibilities

  • Development of species distribution models and application to test sites across EU.  Devise innovative reporting for benchmarking, particularly with respect to distilling complex multivariate data to discrete indicators summaries relevant for a specific geographic context. Validate models on test data collected by partners in the project. 
  • Explore potential functional relevance of devised indicators through either literature or novel data driven approaches. 
  • Delivering research outcomes.  Contribute to the dissemination of research outputs through relevant scientific technical and public press and conferences. Lead writing of deliverable and milestone reports to project management and funders on biodiversity indicators. 
  • Contribute to administration of the research project.  Participate in project meeting coordinate project to meet aims and objectives and liaise with stakeholders (external and internal). Present findings to internal partners through full project and ad-hoc meetings.
  • Advise and collaborate with Masters and PhD students within the research programme, and the broader research unit.

Other Duties and Responsibilities

  • The post holder will be expected to participate in performance review and developmental activities.
  • The post holder will be expected to comply with the University’s equality policies and statements, Dignity at Work and Study Policy and the University’s Welsh Language Scheme.
  • The post holder has a general and legal duty of care in relation to health, safety and wellbeing and must take all reasonable steps to ensure a safe and healthy working environment for him/her self and for other members of staff, students and visitors affected by his/her actions or inactions.  The post holder is also required to comply with all applicable health and safety policies, procedures and risk assessments.
  • The post holder must comply with relevant legal and financial policies and procedures and be aware of their responsibilities in terms of the legal requirements of their posts.

Person Specification



  • PhD in relevant discipline (microbial ecology, soils, ecology, informatics), or be close to completion.



  • Working with microbiome datasets
  • The ability to undertake quantitative analysis and particularly show innovation in dealing with large datasets
  • Evidence of written contributions in publications
  • Proven track record of conference presentations


  • Experience of working with ecological/ machine learning models
  • Experience of working with whole genome data




  • Demonstrate good verbal and written skills
  • Demonstrate good analytical skills, ability to analyse numerical data and present results appropriately in either R or Python
  • Demonstrate the ability to prioritise work load and work to deadlines


  • GIS skills using R/Python
  • Demonstrate ability to work as part of a team
  • Experience of Markdown or similar to document code and results
  • Experience of Shiny application or similar novel data dissemination approaches



  • An understanding of the bilingual nature of the institution and area.


The University is committed to supporting and promoting equality and diversity and to creating an inclusive working environment. We believe this can be achieved through attracting, developing, and retaining a diverse range of staff from many different backgrounds.  We strive to develop a workforce from all sections of the community regardless of sex, gender identity, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, trans identity, relationship status, religion or belief, caring responsibilities, or age. We promote and facilitate the use of the Welsh language through our progressive Welsh Language Policy. We comply with the Welsh Language Standards and are committed to equality of opportunity. You are welcome to apply for any job in English or Welsh and all applications submitted will be treated equally. 

We are a member of Advance HE’s Athena SWAN Gender Equality charter and hold a Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to and progress towards gender equality within the University’s policies, practices, and culture. We are proud to be a Disability Confident employer.

All members of staff have a duty to ensure their actions are in line with the overall environmental aims of the University and minimise their environmental impact. 

All offers are made subject to proof of eligibility to work in the UK and receipt of satisfactory references.  

We have a legal responsibility to ensure that you have the right to work in the UK before you can start working for us.  When you apply for this post you will be required to explain the basis upon which you believe you will able to live and work in the UK legally on the commencement date of the role should your application be successful.   If you do not have the right to work freely in any position in the UK already, any offer of employment we will make to you will be subject to you obtaining a right to work visa.   The following link provides information on the various visa routes into employment and the eligibility requirements (including switching visa status where permissible) .   If you are successful in your application we will discuss visa options with you at the time of making the offer of employment.      

Candidates should also note that they may be required to apply for an ATAS certificate (Academic Approval Technology Scheme)  from the Counter-Proliferation and Arms Control Centre of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office before being able to apply for a visa –  

Please note that, in the event of applications being received from candidates on the University’s Redeployment Register with a reasonable skills match to the post specification, these applicants will be given prior consideration.


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