Light management strategies in marine macroalgae

Fronds of Chondrus crispus lying in shallow water. The tips of this red algae can be seen to have a blue iridescence.

The tips of Chondrus crispus shine blue © Juliet Brodie

This early-stage researcher (ESR) position will study light management strategies in seaweeds. The researcher will have the opportunity to enrol for a PhD.

This project is funded by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions BEEP Innovative Training Network and starts between 1 May - 31 September 2020.

How to apply

Read the eligibility criteria and application guidance below, then apply through the Museum’s careers portal.

Application deadline: 7 April 2020

Project background, aims and approach

Structural colour is common in the marine environment and the appearance of iridescent blue tips in the red alga Chondrus crispus, for example, is a familiar sight in rock pools on shores in the North Atlantic.

Structural colour is reported in the red, green and brown seaweeds and yet the phenomenon is largely unexplored in these algae. This project will study optical responses of structurally coloured algae and how these responses relate to the morphology, photosynthetic activity, microbiome, bacteriosome and phylogeny of these organisms.

The project will initially focus on red and brown seaweed species. It will include fieldwork on shores along the south coast of England, culture work, photophysiological studies (lab and field, including the use of hyperspectral imaging and PAM), molecular techniques, and microscopy (light and EM). This novel research area will also provide scope for the student to develop their own lines of research.

About the BEEP project

The BEEP project (Bio-inspired and Bionic materials for Enhanced Photosynthesis) provides research and training opportunities for early-stage researchers in the field of bio-mimetic approaches for light management.

Scientifically, BEEP aims to:

  1. unravel the fundamental strategies of light management in macroalgae, corals with symbiotic microalgae and bacteria, as well as sea-slugs with sequestered chloroplasts
  2. apply such knowledge for creating novel artificial and bionic photosynthetic systems

Research within the network encompasses a number of disciplines ranging from organic, inorganic, physical chemistry to the material and biological sciences. In addition, inter-sectorial collaboration is promoted through short- and long-term secondments between academic and non-academic participants.

The aim of the research programme is to provide the ESRs with the practical skills and knowledge so that they can perform top-level research, both in the academic and non-academic sectors. The network-wide training programme consists of workshops and schools. It has been specifically designed to equip the researchers with a balance of research-related and transferable skills, which will enhance their career perspectives.

The ESRs will also have the opportunity to enrol for a PhD.


We are looking for highly motivated researchers with an excellent academic background in Chemistry, Material Science, Biology and Physics.

Applicants must at the time of recruitment:

  • Have a BSc and a MSc or equivalent in Chemistry, Physics, Biology or a related discipline
  • Be in the first four years (full-time equivalent) of their research careers
  • Have not been awarded a doctoral degree
  • Have not resided in the country of the host beneficiary for more than 12 months in the last three years

How to apply

Please apply online using the Museum’s careers portal, providing:

  • A comprehensive curriculum vitae giving details of relevant achievements in recent posts as well as your education and professional qualifications (maximum two pages)
  • A covering letter that summarises your interest in this post, providing evidence of your ability to match the criteria outlined in the person specification 
  • Please ensure your letter includes details of your latest salary and notice period

Application deadline: 9am 7 April 2020

  • BEEB network participants and projects

    The BEEB network unites 9 beneficiaries and 8 partner organisations from both the academic and industrial sectors from 6 countries (United Kingdom, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Denmark, USA). More information about the network can be found on the BEEP project webpage

    Description of Projects:

    • ESR1 (University of Cambridge, UK): Understanding Light management in Marine organisms. Supervisor: Dr Silvia Vignolini
    • ESR2 (Université de Nantes, FR): ESR to: Diatom biophotonics in hydrogels and natural microphytobenthic communities, effect of biofilm structure. Supervisor: Dr Bruno Jesus
    • ESR3 (Fondazione Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Milano, IT): Photosynthetic processes in algae via time-resolved spectroscopy. Supervisor: Prof Guglielmo Lanzani
    • ESR4 (The Natural History Museum London, UK): Light management strategies in seaweeds. Supervisor: Prof Juliet Brodie
    • ESR5 (University College London, UK): Exploitation of bio-inspired light-management strategies. Supervisor: Prof Franco Cacialli
    • ESR6 (University of Strasbourg, FR): Bio-inspired breathing hydrogels for self-sustaining bio-photoreactors. Supervisor: Prof Luisa De Cola
    • ESR7 (University of Bari, IT): Synthetic strategies for Bionic Diatoms. Supervisor: Prof Gianluca Farinola
    • ESR8 (Hoekmine BV, Utrecht NL): The photonic applications of structural colour from natural and genetically engineered bacteria. Supervisor: Dr Colin Ingham
    • ESR9 (University of Copenhagen, DK): The role of fluorescent host pigments for photosynthesis and optics in corals. Supervisor: Prof Michael Kühl

Any questions?

If you have any questions about the project please contact the project supervisor: Prof Juliet Brodie

EURAXESS website

You can also view the advert for this post on EURAXESS, the European Commission's research portal.

Funded by the European Union

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Beep Innovative Training Network (ITN) Call: H2020-MSCA-ITN-2019.