Ocean Career: Cefas Plankton Ecologist

The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) is a world leader in marine science and technology, providing innovation, scientific evidence and impartial expert advice on the aquatic environment, biodiversity, and food security.

In recent years, the demand for plankton data has increased and advances in technologies for collecting and analyzing samples have been made. We are seeking a plankton ecologist, with expertise in the identification of phytoplankton using microscopy and image analysis, to support the development of these novel technologies and their application to pelagic science.

You will work in the Ecology group, collaborating with scientific experts across Cefas, nationally and internationally, to create innovative solutions to challenges faced by pelagic scientists and to provide evidence-based advice to our customers. You will work with colleagues who have a wide-ranging mix of practical and analytical skills, including laboratory taxonomists, data scientists, science leaders and others, and contribute towards developing Cefas’ capabilities in the field of pelagic ecology. This includes contribution to current and future research, presentations at scientific meetings and publishing in high-ranking scientific journals. You will also have the opportunity to travel overseas and conduct fieldwork at sea.

There is considerable scope to apply and expand your technical and analytical skills, as well as opportunities to develop practical and advisory skills to support Cefas’ R&D and Overseas Territories portfolios

Job description

Your main duties and responsibilities will include, but are not limited

  • Providing phytoplankton taxonomic expertise and supporting the development of new technologies for the collection and analysis of plankton data, in particular phytoplankton, including automated instruments (e.g., flow cytometry) and image analysis (e.g., flowcam).
  • Some field work at sea collecting data, statistical analysis using R or similar language, and finally reporting and publication in peer-reviewed journals.
  • You will also contribute to new research proposals in relation to plankton science, coordinating amongst scientists with a wide-ranging mix of practical and analytical skills.
  • You will communicate and engage with the scientific community to present results and foster new collaborations.

Please note that the successful candidate will be expected to spend their working week based on site at our Lowestoft Laboratory due to the requirements and business needs of this position.

In addition, Cefas reserves the right to ask staff to take on additional duties and responsibilities which are commensurate with their grade. Team Leaders and management will have a discussion with staff to explain the changes that are to be made. A new job description will be issued if required.

Person specification

The following are essential criteria required for this role and you must be able to demonstrate your skills and experience in the following areas:

  • Experience in identifying phytoplankton using microscopy;
  • Knowledge of plankton’s role within the pelagic environment, in particular phytoplankton;
  • Working knowledge of existing sampling/analysis methods for plankton data collection, with a focus on phytoplankton;
  • Excellent data analysis skills;
  • Being innovative, attentive, well-motivated, organized, and flexible, with good written and verbal communication skills;
  • Experience in identifying and solving problems as part of an interdisciplinary team;
  • Ability to explain complex solutions to both specialists and non-specialists; and
  • A degree in marine ecology, or similar subject, plus being able to demonstrate having relevant experience (as advertised in this person specification section).


We'll assess you against these behaviors during the selection process:

  • Changing and Improving
  • Delivering at Pace
  • Working Together

We only ask for evidence of these behaviors on your application form:

  • Changing and Improving

Technical skills

We'll assess you against these technical skills during the selection process:

  • Identification of phytoplankton to species level.
  • Sampling methodologies and analysis of plankton data, including practical field work.
  • Statistical analysis methods, using R, or similar programming language, and experience of writing code.


Alongside your salary of £31,825, Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science contributes £8,592 towards you being a member of the Civil Service Defined Benefit Pension scheme. Find out what benefits a Civil Service Pension provides.

  • Generous annual leave entitlement—Cefas offers 25 days' annual leave on entry (rising to 30 days over first 5 yrs) for full-time new entrants to the Civil Service. Employees receive 8 public holidays a year, plus an additional day to mark the King's birthday
  • Access to learning and development tailored to your role
  • A working environment that supports a range of flexible working options
  • A working culture which encourages inclusion and diversity
  • Eligible to join the Civil Service Pension scheme – more information can be found on the CSP website http://www.civilservicepensionscheme.org.uk/
  • Staff recognition vouchers
  • In-year award scheme

Closing Date: March 5, 2024

Learn more about this opportunity and how to apply.

Our Partners

Frontiers in Marine Science

ECO Magazine is a marine science trade publication committed to bringing scientists and professionals the latest ground-breaking research, industry news, and job opportunities from around the world.


8502 SW Kansas Ave
Stuart, FL 34997


Newsletter Signup

The ECO Newsletter is a weekly email featuring the Top 10 stories of the past seven days, providing readers with a convenient way to stay abreast on the latest ocean science and industry news.