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Postdoctoral Research Associate: Evidence for the management of biodiversity

Reference   'Please quote reference when applying: PF18317'  (Please mention Stopdodo/Environment Jobs in your application)
Sectors   Nature Conservation (Terrestrial Ecology)
Location   England (East Anglia)
Salary   £32,236-£39,609. Fixed-term contract for 15 months to start on 1 May 2019 or as soon as possible thereafter. Full-time
Type   Fixed Term and Permanent Roles
Status   Full Time
Level   Mid Level
Deadline   31/03/2019
Company Name   University of Cambridge
Contact Name  
Website   Further Details / Applications
Also Listing:

We  have  vacancies  for  two  postdoctoral  researchers  to  work  with  Prof.  William Sutherland and Dr Rebecca Smith on the Conservation Evidence project in the Conservation Science Group (http://conservationevidence.com/), within the Department of Zoology. Work will involve producing comprehensive reviews of scientific evidence on the effectiveness of interventions for the conservation of biodiversity. Synopses of evidence  will  be  made  available  in  a  format  that  is  accessible  to  conservation practitioners and policy makers. 

We are looking for two natural scientists with excellent writing skills and a strong interest in in improving the effectiveness of biodiversity conservation. The successful candidates will work closely with the core Conservation Evidence team in the David Attenborough Building, Cambridge, as well as with advisory boards and external synopsis authors. The project is funded by Arcadia. 

It is likely that during this project you will complete reviews of the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of interventions for one of the following topics: the conservation of reptiles, grasslands or terrestrial and fresh water invertebrates. Review methods will follow those developed by the Conservation Evidence group at Cambridge (http://conservationevidence.com/). Reviews will be global, and the post-holders will work with international groups of expert advisers for each topic. 

Conservation Evidence is a free, reliable information resource designed to support decisions about nature conservation. Our research shows that conservationists and other environmental managers often make decisions without using relevant scientific literature. Conservation  Evidence  aims  to  change  global  conservation  practice  by  collating, reviewing and disseminating the science on management actions for the maintenance and restoration of global biodiversity. Our goal is for practitioners and policymakers to have easy access to, and routinely incorporate, evidence into their decision making to ensure that conservation actions are more effective. So far we have produced 15 synopses of evidence, which collate evidence for all management actions for maintaining and restoring particular species groups, habitats or ecosystem services. Others are currently being compiled. Once synopses are compiled, expert panels assess the effectiveness of each of the interventions to produce an annual open access book What Works in Conservation (



Required skills and desirable experience for the positions 


  • A PhD, or equivalent experience, in an area related to biodiversity 
  • Ability to efficiently understand and extract relevant information from scientific papers 
  • Ability to write clear, concise summaries of scientific papers, quickly and accurately, using a standardized style 
  • Detailed knowledge of biodiversity and knowledge of ecosystem services 
  • Good general understanding of ecological statistics and experimental design 
  • Fluent at writing in English 
  • Demonstrable ability to complete projects to the stage of good quality reports/publications on time 
  • Ability to travel to meetings in the UK 


  • Experience of systematic review 
  • Experience of working on one or more of the following subjects: the conservation of reptiles, grasslands or terrestrial and fresh water invertebrates
  • Experience of summarising large amounts of information for practitioners/policymakers 
  • Demonstrable success in writing engaging text for non-technical audiences (e.g. newspaper articles, blogging) 
  • Experience of database design and management 
  • Ability to translate Spanish, French or other language texts into English summaries 
  • Good team worker 
  • Experience of writing peer-reviewed scientific papers 
  • Ability to travel to meetings overseas 

Duties and responsibilities 

The post-holder will carry out the following tasks: 

1.         Form Expert Advisory Boards

For each review, form advisory boards of at least 8-10 experts. The responsibility of each advisory board is to review the protocol and provide input on relevant literature, review and comment on the planned interventions for evaluation, and provide a formal review of the evidence as presented in the draft synopsis of evidence. 

2.         Finalize List of Interventions for Review

In collaboration with advisory boards, compile a comprehensive list of interventions, designed to benefit the specific group of species or habitat. These will form the basis of each review. 

3.         Finalize Plan for Completing Synopses

For each synopsis, complete a detailed plan, with timeline and methods, which covers compiling relevant literature, completing the synopsis, incorporating the expert review and publishing the synopsis online. 

4.         Compile Relevant Literature

Collect literature from internal Conservation Evidence databases and search contents of specialized journals or other resources, including those identified by the advisory board, following a formal and transparent search protocol. All literature citations and abstracts will be assembled into a bibliographic database that can be exported and shared. 

5.         Draft Synopses of Evidence

Using standardized methods and formats developed by Conservation Evidence (http://conservationevidence.com/site/page?view=methods) produce comprehensive synopses of evidence for specific topics based on the literature retrieved. Training on how to write in plain English will be provided, if necessary. 

6.         Final Synopses of Evidence

Complete final synopses of the evidence and following expert review publish them online.

Main outputs expected are:

1.  Synopses of evidence on agreed topics available on the Conservation Evidence website.  The successful candidate is likely to be lead author. 

How to apply

To apply for this vacancy, please click on the link in the 'Apply online' section of the advert published on the University's Job Opportunities pages: http://www.jobs.cam.ac.uk/job/20598/. This will route you to the University's Web Recruitment System, where you will need to register an account (if you have not already) and log in before completing the online application form. 

Please upload your Curriculum Vitae (CV) and a covering letter in the Upload section of the online application. If you upload any additional documents which have not been requested, we will not be able to consider these as part of your application. 

Please quote reference when applying: PF18317 

Deadline: 31st March 2019 

Interview dates: Wednesday 17th and Thursday 18th April 2019 

Informal enquiries can be addressed to:

Dr Rebecca Smith,  r.k.smith@zoo.cam.ac.uk 

The Department of Zoology 

The Department of Zoology is a large, multi-disciplinary department whose members conduct research and teaching in areas ranging from molecular biology to behavioural ecology. There are over 250 staff and graduate students in the department and the final year undergraduate class numbers 100.  The department is in the heart of the city centre at the junction of Downing Street and Corn Exchange Street on the New Museums’ site. It is well placed for all of the Park and Ride bus routes and within a twenty-minute walk of the railway station. The department prides itself on the excellence of its research and teaching,  whilst  at  the  same  time  providing  a  friendly  and  supportive  working environment.

For further information on the Department see:  http://www.zoo.cam.ac.uk/ 

General Information 

The University of Cambridge 

The University is one of the world's leading academic centres. It comprises 150 faculties and departments, together with a central administration and other institutions. Our institutions, museums and collections are a world-class resource for researchers, students and members of the public representing one of the country’s highest concentrations of internationally important collections. 

The University has an annual income of £1.66 billion. Research income, won competitively from the UK Research Councils, the European Union (EU), major charities and industry, exceeds £400 million per annum and continues to grow. 

The Colleges and the University remain committed to admitting the best students regardless of their background and to investing considerable resources both in widening access and financial support. 

The 31 Colleges are self-governing, separate legal entities which appoint their own staff. Many academic staff are invited to join a College as a Teaching Fellow, which provides a further social and intellectual dimension. The Colleges admit students, provide student accommodation and deliver small group teaching. The University awards degrees and its faculties and departments provide lectures and seminars for students and determine the syllabi for teaching and conducting research. 

The University’s estate is undergoing the most significant transformation in its history. Cambridge has been able to create a new science and technology campus to the west of the city centre, and is now expanding further to the north west of Cambridge including investing in affordable homes for University key workers and community facilities. Even with our continued development, the University remains within walking or cycling

distance across the campus. The University is a major partner on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus and we continue to redevelop our historic city centre sites demonstrating our determination to ensure that we can offer the best facilities and opportunities for our staff and students. 

Our instinct for seeking out excellence and setting up enduring and mutually beneficial collaborations has led us to establish strategic partnerships across the globe. Whether it is the successful Cambridge-Africa Programme involving universities in Ghana, Uganda and elsewhere on the African continent; or the close association with the government of India to pursue new research in crop science; or the creation, with Germany’s Max Planck Institutes, of a Cambridge-based centre for the study of ethics, human economy and social change – international partnerships are now an inextricable part of the University’s make-up. 

There is much more information about the University at http://www.cam.ac.uk/univ/works/index.htmlwhich we hope you will find helpful. Department of Zoology The Department of Zoology is a large, multi-disciplinary department whose members conduct research and teaching in areas ranging from molecular biology to behavioural ecology. The Department prides itself on the excellence of its research and teaching whilst at the same time providing a friendly working environment. For further information on the department see:  http://www.zoo.cam.ac.uk/

What the University can offer you

We offer a comprehensive reward package to attract, motivate and retain high performing staff at all levels and in all areas of work. The University offers a wide range of competitive benefits, from family leave entitlement, to shopping and travel discount schemes. Our generous annual leave package contributes to the positive wellbeing of

our University employees. Sabbatical leave enables academics to focus on research and scholarship, whilst still maintaining their full salary. The University also has a  career break scheme for academic and academic-related staff, with additional flexible working policies for all other staff. 

CAMbens employee benefits

We offer a CAMbens scheme for University employees, providing access to online and in-store shopping discounts and cashback. With more than 2,000 participating retailers, employees can save money on a wide range of household expenses, from groceries and clothes, to holidays and insurance and much more. A range of local discounts are also available, helping employees to save money whilst also supporting local Cambridge businesses. CAMbens Cars and CAMbens Cycle to Work salary sacrifice schemes are also available, which enable employees to save money on transport costs. A 10% discount rate on the  purchase of train season tickets, bulk buy tickets and an interest free travel to work loan are also available for staff of the University of Cambridge. 

Family-friendly policies

The University recognises the importance of supporting its staff. We have a range of family-friendly policies to aid employees’ work-life balance including a generous maternity, adoption and shared parental leave entitlement of 18 weeks full pay and emergency family care support via My Family Care. In addition, our Ofsted rated

‘outstanding’ workplace nurseries, childcare vouchers, a childcare salary sacrifice scheme and a high quality holiday play scheme are available to help support University employees with caring responsibilities. The  Newcomers and Visiting Scholars Group is an organisation within the University run by volunteers whose aim is to help newly arrived wives, husbands, partners and families of Visiting Scholars and members of the University to settle in Cambridge and give them an opportunity to meet local people. 

Your wellbeing

The University’s Sport Centre, Counselling Services and Occupational Health are just some of the support services available to University employees to promote their physical and mental wellbeing. There are many societies in Cambridge catering for almost every taste and interest. Whether you want to take part in a sport, participate in music or drama, pursue a hobby, or join a political group, you will almost certainly find that a society exists for this purpose. 

The University also hosts the  Cambridge Science Festival and  Cambridge Festivalof Ideas, as well as  Open Cambridgeweekend, which together attract over 50,000 visitors per year. The festivals are a great opportunity to get your first taste of public engagement, through volunteering, supporting hands-on activities or proposing a talk. 

Pay and benefits

The University salary structure includes automatic service-related pay progression in many of its grades and an annual cost of living increase. In addition to this, employees are rewarded for outstanding contribution through a number of regular pay progression schemes. The University offers attractive pensions schemes for employees, with an additional benefit of a salary exchange arrangement providing tax and national insurance savings. Payroll giving is also a simple, tax-efficient way for employees to make monthly donations to charity. 

Relocating to Cambridge

The University Accommodation Service exists to help employees in their search for a rental home in Cambridge. A new University development at North West Cambridge called Eddington offers subsidised rented accommodation to University staff. The development consists of high quality furnished one and two bedroom apartments. For more information about the development and how to apply please visit the website www.nwcambridge.co.uk 

The importance of helping individuals settle into a new area is also recognised by the University. The Shared Equity Scheme  https://www.hr.admin.cam.ac.uk/pay-benefits/cambens-employee-benefits/financial/shared-equity-schemeprovides financial assistance to qualifying new members of staff with the purchase of living accommodation, where they have to relocate to take up their appointment. Removal expenses are also available for qualifying new members of staff. 

Equality & diversity

The University has a vibrant and varied community. We support and encourage under- represented groups and we value diversity. We welcome applications from individuals with disabilities. Our recruitment and selection procedures follow best practice. We have an Equal Opportunities Policy, along with a range of diversity networks for women, black and minority ethnic and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender staff. More details are available here: http://www.equality.admin.cam.ac.uk/ 

Development opportunities

We support new employees to settle in through various activities. The encouragement of career development for all staff is one of the University's values and we put this into practice through various services and initiatives. Our Personal and Professional Development Department provides development opportunities and courses for all University employees. These include face-to-face sessions, online learning modules and webinars. Employees may also apply for financial support to undertake training that will lead to a qualification. We offer reduced staff fees for University of Cambridge graduate courses and the opportunity to attend lectures and seminars held by University departments and institutions. The CareerStart@Cam programme also supports employees in assistant staff roles who do not hold higher education qualifications to develop their skills, experience and qualifications. 

Information if you have a Disability 

The University welcomes applications from individuals with disabilities and we are committed to ensuring fair treatment throughout the recruitment process. We will make adjustments to enable applicants to compete to the best of their ability wherever it is reasonable to do so, and, if successful, to assist them during their employment.

Information for disabled applicants is available at http://www.jobs.cam.ac.uk/applying/disability/

We encourage you to declare any disability that you may have, and any reasonable adjustments that you may require, in the section provided for this purpose in the application form. This will enable us to accommodate your needs throughout the process as required. However, applicants and employees may declare a disability at any time. 

If you prefer to discuss any special arrangements connected with a disability, please contact, Mrs Anastasia Nezhentseva, who is responsible for recruitment to this position, on (0)1223 330117 or by email on an286@cam.ac.uk. Alternatively, you may contact the HR Business Manager responsible for the department you are applying to via hrenquiries@admin.cam.ac.uk.

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