PostDoc “Maritime motorways, global ship routeing and the governance of marine biodiversity” (m/f/d)

Institute overview

The Helmholtz-Institute for Functional Marine Biodiversity (HIFMB) is a new institute on interdisciplinary marine biodiversity research, established on the campus of the Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg. It joins the scientific profiles of the Institute of Chemistry and Biology of Marine Systems (ICBM) Oldenburg and the Alfred Wegener Institute – Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research Bremerhaven (AWI). The university is home to a vibrant Institute for Social Science, which is developing ties to the HIFMB. Within the HIFMB, expertise in marine functional ecology, data science and theory are joined with establishing a strong social science and humanities profile.
In this context, we are offering a postdoctoral Research Scientist position within the recently established Research Group: Marine Governance led by Professor Kimberley Peters.

Marine Governance at HIFMB

The Marine Governance Group of the HIFMB uniquely understands “governance” as an inherently geographical process. The Group explores how governance does not just happen anywhere, but somewhere, and is shaped by spatial processes (borders, boundaries, networks, flows, verticalities and assemblages). Group members investigate how the geographies of what we seek to govern, or do govern at sea, are shaped by the location, character and qualities of place and relations with surrounding spaces. In this respect, marine governance is regarded not as a technical-legal practice but a politicised process.
The Group explores this spatialised approach to marine governance through a focus on four central, broadly connected questions:

Q1: How have current modes of marine governance come to be?
Q2: How can we govern our seas and oceans differently?
Q3: How does governance offshore fall short and fail?
Q4: How can we better share understandings of marine governance/share governing the marine environment?

The position

This Research Scientist position will examine the planning, design and development of ship routeing measures and their operation, in relation to the marine environment and biodiversity. Although routes – in their planning, design, materialisation and even disruption – have a most obvious link to the economy, they also relate closely to environmental questions. This might be through the increased CO2 emissions driven by supporting faster routes; the establishment of new routes through previously unnavigable, icy, waters; or the threat to biodiversity through ship collisions and spillages in bottleneck routes. Although there is wide and varied work on routeing from historical as well as technical, legal, economic and scientific perspectives, their geographies as invisible infrastructures linked to the outcomes of more-than-human marine life remains still underdeveloped. This position will forge critical insights into this research gap. Moreover, it is intended that the post holder will use such investigations to progress theories of territory, borders, networks, corridors and flows that are essential to understanding the relations between routeing and marine biodiversity outcomes.

  • To work within the Marine Governance Group contributing to the mission of the Institute and the Helmholtz program by assessing the governance of marine systems in national and international contexts, in this case via global ship routeing, past and present.
  • Develop careful, feasible yet innovative research questions.
  • Conduct literature reviews and contextual research on issues of ship routeing.
  • Design and carry out effective research to track the planning, design and development of ship routeing measures and their operation.
  • Analyse and synthesise a range of qualitative data for dissemination in academic and policy fields.
  • Use ideas from geography, such as territory, borders, networks, corridors and flows to understand the relations between routeing and marine biodiversity outcomes.
  • Use such investigations also to progress spatial theories of territory and governance and their application for marine biodiversity outcomes.
  • Develop independent aligned projects, to support career development.

  • An academic university degree (Masters or equivalent) and a PhD in a social science field such as Human Geography, Planning, Political or Social Sciences, Environmental Humanities, Interdisciplinary Environmental Sciences, or similar.
  • A track-record of independently designing, conducting, and coordinating research projects in the social sciences.
  • A publication profile demonstrating dissemination of research in appropriate academic journals and books, commensurate to career stage.
  • Experience of using qualitative methodologies such as archival and textual analysis and in-depth interviewing.
  • Fluent English language skills.

Additional skills and knowledge

  • An openness, willingness and enthusiasm to work in an interdisciplinary environment, and to collaborate with the sciences.
  • Ability to work closely in partnership with other Marine Governance Group members where necessary for joint goals, and aligned groups, for example in Political Ecology.
  • An awareness of key debates in the Marine Social Sciences is preferred.
  • Experience working with key conceptual ideas such as territory, borders, networks and flows is desirable but not essential.
  • Teaching experience is beneficial but not required.
Further Information

For further information, please contact Prof. Dr.  Kimberley Peters (; +49(471)4831-2546).

This is a full-time position, limited to 3 years. It is also suitable for part-time employment. The salary will be paid in accordance with the Collective Agreement for the Public Service of the Federation (Tarifvertrag des öffentlichen Dienstes, TVöD Bund), up to salary level 13. The place of employment will be Oldenburg.

Postdocs havee to register with AWI’s postdoc office PROCEED, thereby gaining access to a set of tailor-made career development tools.

The AWI is characterised by

  • our scientific success – excellent research.
  • collaboration and cooperation – intra-institute, national and international, interdisciplinary.
  • opportunities to develop – on the job, aiming at other positions and beyond AWI.
  • a culture of reconciling work and family – an audited and well-supported aspect of our operation
  • our outstanding research infrastructure – ships, stations, aircraft, laboratories and more.
  • an international environment – everyday contacts with people from all over the world.
  • having an influence – fundamental research with social and political relevance
  • flat hierarchies – facilitating freedom and responsibility
  • exciting science topics, with opportunities also in technology, administration and infrastructure
Equal opportunities are an integral part of our personnel policy. The AWI aims to increase the number of female employees and therefore strongly encourages qualified women to apply.
Disabled applicants will be given preference when equal qualifications are present.

The AWI fosters the compatibility of work and family in various ways and has received a number of awards as a result of this engagement.

We look forward to your application!

Please forward your application by April 4th 2021 exclusively online.
Reference number 21/55/D/Bio-b

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