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Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity Recruitment


Why we are recruiting

Profile photo of Director of Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity

The Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity (LCAB) aspires to stimulate a profound shift in environmental thinking, recasting 'biodiversity loss' and 'ecosystem degradation' perspectives into a more complex, realistic, and nuanced picture of Anthropocene change.

Our interdisciplinary approach to understanding, interpreting and responding to the challenges of the Anthropocene will help identify opportunities to increase the future sustainability of our planet, steering us towards what might be regarded as a good Anthropocene.

Seven Postdoctoral Research Associate positions are available across a range of topics:

Professor Chris Thomas,
Director of the Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity

Our research areas

The Centre’s core research will develop an improved understanding of biodiversity gains; how humans are causing, responding to, and sometimes benefitting from those gains, and how human responses in turn affect subsequent biodiversity change.

We will use a combination of methods from multiple disciplines within the Centre's four Research Programmes to address the following key issues:

  • Biodiversification: Understanding how human impacts and biological processes underpin changes to biodiversity and ecosystems. Tackling radical questions about the growth of biological diversity and rates at which new species are coming into existence.
  • Philias and phobias: Identifying the causes and consequences of varied human attitudes to the growth and loss of biodiversity. Considering personal, historical and cultural circumstances and points of view which influence societal responses to these changes.
  • Utility: Establishing both the benefits and harms we experience from human-altered biodiversity and novel ecosystems. Evaluating the socioeconomic, political, geographical, historical and cultural circumstances under which these changes exist.
  • Moulding the future: Integrating knowledge to foster further positive gains in biodiversity, without compromising human wellbeing or risking 'past' biodiversity. Furthering understanding how we can foster beneficial increases rather than just attempting to halt the losses.

Why we work here

We value the participation of every member of our community and want to ensure that LCAB is an enjoyable place to work. LCAB provides a friendly, supportive, collaborative working environment and advocates flexible working to encourage a healthy work/life balance. We welcome applications from people of any and all backgrounds, and are very happy to discuss and accommodate any individual needs.

A brand new work space designed in collaboration with LCAB will provide an area which caters for individual and collaborative research as well as social space for relaxed and informal get togethers.

Meet our existing Postdoctoral Research Associates:

Dr Katie Davis - I am broadly interested in patterns and processes in the evolution of biodiversity, with a particular interest in how we can use the geological record to help us to understand, and mitigate, the potential impact of human activity on today’s biodiversity.

Dr Harrie Neal - I work on attitudes towards non-native species in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Britain and Ireland. Over 5000 novel species were introduced to Britain between 1750 and 1850, and I look at how some species came to be naturalized and others viewed as invasive, alien, diseased, and corrupting.

Dr Jack Hatfield - My research background is in community and landscape ecology, investigating how species communities are altered by land-use change. I am also interested in functional ecology from species traits and functional diversity to ecosystem functions.

Dr Inês Martins - My research interests are in the field of macroecology and biodiversity change. My focus is on understanding the theoretical and empirical relationships between drivers of environmental change and the diversity and composition of terrestrial assemblages at multiple spatio-temporal scales.

Dr Caroline Ward - I am an interdisciplinary environmental social scientist, interested in understanding the relationships between improving human well-being and achieving conservation goals. My current research at LCAB focuses on exploring the links between inequalities and the environment.

The University of York

Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity

LCAB researches the changing relationship between humanity and the natural world, and how we might maintain and develop a sustainable Earth. The Centre represents an interdisciplinary collaboration between multiple departments at the University of York, the University of Sherbrooke, the Australian National University and the University of St Andrews. LCAB recognises biological gains as well as losses, and identifies the circumstances under which changes are perceived as positive or negative. It aims to understand and inform society’s response to these changes.

LCAB and the University are committed to promoting a diverse and inclusive community - a place where we can all be ourselves and succeed on merit. We offer a range of family friendly, inclusive employment policies, flexible working arrangements, staff engagement forums, campus facilities and services to support staff from different backgrounds.

The University

Founded on principles of excellence, equality and opportunity for all, the University of York opened in 1963 with just 230 students. In 2019 it is the centre for over 18,000 students across more than 30 academic departments and research centres. In over 50 years we have become one of the world's leading universities and a member of the prestigious Russell Group.

The University has consistently been recognised as one of the leading Higher Education Institutes and is one of just six post-war universities which has appeared in the world top 100. The University of York has won six Times Higher Education (THE) Awards and five Queen's Anniversary Prizes, including two in Computer Science.

We are proud of our association with Athena SWAN, holding twelve awards in support of women in science, with gold awards for Chemistry and Biology as well as a University-wide bronze award.

Of 154 universities that took part in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) in 2014, the University of York ranked 14th overall and 10th on the impact of our research. The University is consistently in the top ten UK research universities and attracts over £60m a year of funding from research alone.

Centred around the picturesque village of Heslington on the edge of the city of York, our colleges are set in an attractive landscaped campus. With a compact and easy to get around design, York enjoys a safe, friendly atmosphere. The campus offers a wealth of facilities, which includes bars, shops, theatres and concert halls all within easy walking distance.

Find out more about the University of York

How to apply

Links to the job specifications and application procedure are provided below. Candidates will be asked to submit a:

  • CV
  • Covering letter outlining your interest in a given role(s), and how you meet the job specifications
  • 1 page outline of how you might tackle the research challenge. This is not a formal or detailed proposal (which will be discussed with mentors after appointment) but the overall strategic and/or methodological direction you would like to take

If you would like to apply for more than one role, please complete a separate application for each. The CV and covering letter can be the same, but please submit a separate 1 page research outline for each.

We welcome applicants from any relevant disciplinary background and encourage you to approach the topics from your own perspective.

Seven positions are available and seven topics are identified. However, each topic could be tackled in more than one way, so it is possible that more than one person could be appointed to a single topic, and none to another.

Key dates

  • Application deadline: 3 August 2020
  • Anticipated interview dates: Week commencing 24 August 2020
  • Start dates: all roles are flexible but ideally will be in November 2020, and by end of January 2021 at the latest.

We welcome applications from all suitable candidates. The University of York is a Tier 2 sponsor, and providing certain sponsorship conditions are met, sponsorship may be offered to the successful candidate, should they require it in order to take up the role. All new employees are required to provide evidence of their right to work in the UK before starting any work.

Take a look at some Frequently Asked Questions about these opportunities and applying for them.

Currently recruiting

Seven Postdoctoral Research Associate positions are available in biodiversity change, covering maths, science, social science and the humanities. Post-holders will develop and conduct both independent and collaborative LCAB research. In addition to being a member of LCAB, they will also be a member of a University department appropriate to their research.

PDRA in Accumulation of Biodiversity in Anthropocene Environments

You will coordinate a programme of research on biodiversity responses to human-induced ecosystem changes, identifying the biological, environmental and societal circumstances under which biodiversity accumulates in human-perturbed environments. Can humanity increase biodiversity deliberately? You will analyse global and national databases to quantify biodiversity changes associated with land use change, biological invasions, and other human-associated causes of change, at different spatial and temporal scales. We are looking for a person with advanced analytical skills, including high levels of competency in statistical modelling, meta-analysis, and spatial statistics, competency in obtaining and manipulating species, phylogenetic, ecosystem, taxonomic and diversity data, and an enthusiasm for collaboration.

General enquiries to: Prof. Chris Thomas or Dr Maria Dornelas

Download the job description

Apply online

PDRA in Perceptions of Biodiversity Change

You will develop a research project to understand how cultural, psychological, and historical influences shape our perceptions, understanding and responses to biodiversity change. We are looking for a person from any relevant discipline with the capacity to evaluate how these different perceptions and attitudes arise and are maintained among people from different places, in certain groups of people over time, or in different societal groups (e.g., different schools of thought within science, different political affiliations). This research could also encompass the extent to which attitudes influence human behaviour, such as in conservation, pest control and exploitation.

General enquiries to: Dr Mark Jenner or Prof. Chris Thomas

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PDRA in the Governance of Biodiversity Change

You will develop understanding of the governance of biodiversity change, focussing your research on the boundaries and barriers that limit positive change. The researcher will take into account how environmental dynamics become defined as issues in need of governance and for whom, and how they are controlled and converted into action, so as to identify means of accelerating positive changes in future. We are looking for a person with knowledge of institutional and multi-criteria approaches and a high level of competence across a range of qualitative and quantitative research techniques and methodologies.

General enquiries to: Prof. Lindsay Stringer or Prof. Chris Thomas

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PDRA in the History of Power, People and Nature

You will explore the extent to which changes to individual and common rights, accessibility and land ownership have influenced the creation of modern landscapes, and collaborate with other LCAB researchers to enumerate the consequences for biodiversity. The research will focus on identifying potential positive human welfare and biodiversity synergies that may be relevant to contemporary issues such as rewilding, right to roam, and attitudes to landscape character and change. We are looking for a person with a humanities, social sciences and/or political ecology background, who has knowledge and research skills appropriate to explore reciprocity between human social development and biodiversity change via a detailed case study or comparative approach.

General enquiries to: Dr Jonathan Finch or Prof. Kate Pickett

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PDRA in the Archaeological and Geographical History of Biodiversity Change

You will analyse and interpret biodiversity change to investigate the extent to which present-day biodiversity and conservation concerns stem from the Holocene impacts of humanity on ecosystems and biodiversity. You will use archaeological and historical evidence alongside recent geographic biodiversity data to elucidate the history and biogeography of human impacts. We are looking for a person with knowledge of the history of biodiversity change and its human context, who has highly developed interpretive and analytical skills (including data handling, statistics and spatial analysis), and who is enthusiastic about collaboration.

General enquiries to: Dr Jonathan Finch, Dr Phil Platts, or Prof. Chris Thomas

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PDRA in Ecosystem Service Changes

You will develop projects to enumerate the extent to which ecosystem services values can be regarded as co-produced by humanity and ecosystem processes at global and regional scales (typically national). The work will also identify benefits that are derived from the exploitation of immigrant species and from species that have evolved alongside humans by both natural and artificial selection, thus assessing how humanity has increased the Earth’s carrying capacity for humans. We are looking for a person with strong analytical skills and knowledge of economic, social value and biological approaches when assessing ecosystem goods and services, and natural capital.

General enquiries to: Dr Jasper Kenter or Prof. Chris Thomas

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PDRA in the Mathematics of Biodiversity Change

You will develop mathematical models and computational realisations to assess ecological and evolutionary components of biodiversity change at different spatial and temporal scales. You will collaborate with other LCAB staff to apply your models to past diversification events on Earth, and to compare Anthropocene with non-Anthropocene predictions for future diversity change, and hence evaluate whether humans could be generating a major increase in global biodiversity in the long-term future. We are looking for a person with a knowledge of dynamical systems, spatial and temporal processes, stochastic processes and evolutionary models, and an enthusiasm for collaboration.

General enquiries to: Dr Jon Pitchford or Prof. Chris Thomas

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York and moving to the UK

The City of York

Internationally acclaimed for its rich heritage and historic architecture, York's bustling streets are filled with visitors from all over the world. Within its medieval walls you will find the iconic gothic Minster, Clifford's Tower and the Shambles - just a few of the many attractions.

But York isn't just a great place to visit - it's also a great place to live and work. While nourishing a vibrant cosmopolitan atmosphere, York still maintains the friendly sense of community unique to a small city.

Shopping, culture and entertainment

York boasts specialist and unique boutiques but also all the high street stores on its busy shopping streets. Alongside them you will find cinemas, theatres, an opera house, art galleries, a vast range of restaurants, live music venues and clubs. York is particularly renowned for its multitude of pubs and bars, from the modern to the medieval.


The Lonely Planet guide recently declared Yorkshire the third best region in the world to visit. There is something to cater to every taste, whether it be the rugged landscapes of the Moors or the Dales, the picturesque seaside towns of Scarborough and Robin Hoods Bay, the gothic architecture of Whitby or the vibrancy of cosmopolitan Leeds.

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