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Research Fellow in Mathematical Modelling of Plant-Soil Interaction

Mechanical Engineering

Location:  Highfield Campus
Salary:   £30,395 to £33,199 per annum
Full Time Fixed Term (21 months)
Closing Date:  Wednesday 02 January 2019
Interview Date:   Thursday 17 January 2019
Reference:  1086518DA

You will work on the mathematical modelling of plant-soil interactions on the project entitled “Real-time in situ sensing of soil nitrogen status to promote enhanced nitrogen use efficiency in agricultural systems” which is funded by the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) under the Sustainable Agriculture Research & Innovation Club (SARIC) programme. The direct line manager is Professor Tiina Roose who is not only a leading mathematical modeller in this field, but who has a long experience in successful mentoring early career staff to independent careers and fellowships. The modelling for this project consists of analysis and numerical solutions of partial differential equations describing partially saturated water and solute flow in the soil.  The analysis techniques that will potentially be of use for addressing this problem are: asymptotic analysis, multiscale analysis and numerical solution of partial differential equations using methods of finite difference, finite element and/or spectral methods. 

Candidates should be educated to PhD standard or equivalent in a numerate subject (i.e. applied mathematics, computational engineering, computational civil engineering or any other computationally competent subject).  Willingness to travel will also be required (e.g. to the partner institutions, industrial partners and SARIC programme meetings).  

The overall collaborative project focuses on developing and trialling new electrochemical sensors to determine the concentration of nitrate in soil in real-time. These sensors will be combined with crop canopy sensors to predict when to optimally apply nitrogen fertilisers to crops. Overall, the project aims to (i) demonstrate the use of novel N sensors for the real-time measurement of soil N status; (ii) use geo-statistical methods to optimise the deployment of these in situ sensors; (iii) produce new mechanistic mathematical models which allow accurate prediction of crop N demand; (iv) validate the benefits of these sensors and models in representative grassland and arable systems from a N use and economic standpoint; and (v) explore how these new technologies can improve current fertiliser management and guidelines through enhanced industry-focused decision support tools.

The project is being led by Bangor University (Prof. Davey Jones), but is in direct collaboration with the University of Southampton (Prof. Tiina Roose), Nottingham University (Prof. Murray Lark) and the John Innes Centre (Prof. Tony Miller). In addition, the project has a range of key industrial partners including: Delta-T Devices, AgSpace, Yara UK, Syngenta, Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC), British Grassland Society and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).

The University of Southampton is an institution in the top one per cent of world universities* and one of the UK’s top 15 research-intensive universities.  We have an international reputation for research, teaching and enterprise and hold an Athena SWAN Silver award.  

You will join a leading Engineering Faculty with an excellent record of collaborative research with industry and academic institutions in the UK and abroad. In September 2016 an Athena SWAN Bronze award was received by the School of Engineering in recognition of our continued commitment to improving equality for women in science and engineering.

Informal enquiries to Professor Tiina Roose at

At the University of Southampton, we value diversity and equality.  

*QS World University Rankings 2012-13

* Applications for Research Fellow positions will be considered from candidates who are working towards or nearing completion of a relevant PhD qualification. The title of Research Fellow will be applied upon successful completion of the PhD. Prior to the qualification being awarded, the title of Research Assistant will be assigned.

Application Procedure

You should submit your completed online application form at The application deadline will be midnight on the closing date stated above. If you need any assistance, please call Elsa Samwell (Recruitment Team) on +44 (0) 23 8059 2507. Please quote reference 1086518DA on all correspondence.

Please note: The University Recruitment department will be closed from close of business on Thursday 20th of December to Wednesday 2nd January 2019, so we will not be able to assist you with any application queries during this time.

Athena SWAN Bronze Award holder: Faculty of Engineering and the Environment 

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

Further details:

We aim to be an equal opportunities employer and welcome applications from all sections of the community. Please note that applications from agencies will not be accepted unless indicated in the job advert.

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