Ifremer launches blue research chairs

15 October 2021

1st Blue Chair on 2 themes of your choice :

Cumulative impacts on the marine environment
Contaminants, sea and health

Where: Ifremer Atlantic Center, Nantes

When: Applications must be submitted by October 15

Preparing for and adapting to changes in the ocean by 2100

To open up new fields of research and provide the knowledge and solutions expected, Ifremer is creating the "Blue Chairs" for research. This new mechanism is part of the Institute's exceptional scientific investment plan. It aims to accelerate and amplify the implementation of its strategic plan to 2030 and contribute to the objectives of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Sciences for Sustainable Development.

A first Blue Chair in 2021 on the Nantes site

The scientific identity of the Atlantic Center's research units is centered on the interactions between the sea and health, in a global health approach (environmental, animal and human health): quality of marine waters and the contaminations that affect them; land-sea continuum and cumulative impacts of anthropic activities; sustainable management of aquaculture and fisheries resources.

Ocean engineering is also an essential subject for Ifremer on a national scale: Ifremer teams in Brest and Toulon have a strong partnership with the École Centrale de Nantes and the University of Nantes in this field, particularly within the framework of the Carnot MERS institute; the skills of Ifremer teams in Nantes can strengthen these collaborations by broadening the scope of ocean engineering to the study of its environmental impacts and its socio-economic dimensions

Theme 1: "Cumulative impacts on the marine environment

The coastal ocean is subject to an increasing number of natural and anthropogenic pressures that generate cumulative impacts: climate change, fragmentation and deterioration of habitats, increased inputs of chemical inputs or nutrients, microbiological contamination, invasion of non-indigenous species or proliferation of indigenous species, overexploitation of living marine resources, etc.

The issue of the cumulative impacts of human activities on the marine environment is now clearly identified by public authorities and taken into account in the framework of a number of regulations.

Most of the time, these impacts are still assessed by summing up the indices of different pressures exerted on the environment. In particular, tools and methods are lacking to deal with the non-linearities that can appear when similar effects (several plants of the same nature along a watershed) or different activities are associated (cumulative impact of different pollutants or activities such as marine renewable energies and fishing).

Multi-risk analysis of simultaneous or cascading events, integrating joint probabilities, appears as a possible approach. Whatever methods are used, they must aim to decompartmentalize the specialties working on the different components of risk.

Ifremer operates observatory networks and open databases on a European scale. It has initiated innovative technological developments to characterize biodiversity in situ (flow cytometry, eDNA). It can rely on the most up-to-date geochemical proxies for oceanic aqueous matrices through the "ocean spectroscopy pole", but also on the deployment of tools facilitating in situ chemical characterization. These new measurements can be used to understand the processes that control the physical and biogeochemical evolution of the water masses concerned and to build new models controlled by the processes or the data.

The main scientific objective is to mobilize different communities to bring out an integrative approach to the cumulative impacts of human activities on the marine environment.

Theme 2: "Contaminants, sea and health

The ocean is both the ultimate receptacle of chemical and biological contamination from the continent and a supplier of resources, including food. Within the framework of an integrative and ecological approach to health (One Health/EcoHealth type), the land-sea continuum is an object of primary interest. This continuum can be explored from the understanding of the contamination pathways of marine ecosystems to the health effects (human as well as animal) of these contaminations, the exploited living resources being a link between the quality of the environment and the health of consumers.

Although many studies already exist in this field, they generally take into consideration only one category of contaminants.
Taking into account the exposome (i.e. the sum of environmental exposures throughout life) and its consequences on human and animal health calls for the development of new concepts and new integrated approaches that allow us to understand the complexity of the contamination of marine ecosystems and its effects.

Ifremer's Nantes units are developing, through different projects and with local partners, recognized work targeting different types of contaminants (viruses and bacteria, chemical contaminants or toxic micro-algae). The main scientific objective is to develop integrative approaches to the relationship between marine contamination and human health by building on these projects and strengthening the existing
on these projects and by strengthening partnerships with health actors.

Terms of the call for applications

Candidates must have a minimum of 4 years experience after obtaining their PhD.

The winner of the Chair will receive funding for a maximum of 5 years, which will cover the remuneration of the winner, at least one doctoral candidate and one post-doctoral candidate, as well as operating costs and any investment costs.

Selection of candidates

The selection of the candidates will be based on a file that will be submitted to the scientific direction of Ifremer before October 15, 2021. The project proposal must be submitted on time, in the requested format, and be complete.

The evaluation will be carried out by internal and external experts.
The final arbitration will take place on January 15, 2022.
The project will start no later than October 15, 2022.

Composition of the application

Applications in English must include the following completed documents:

Application proposal - 6 pages maximum,
Curriculum vitae of the candidate, stating his/her administrative status at the time of submission of the project,
List of publications and significant works from the last 5 years,
Letters of recommendation.

The project application must contain

The chosen theme
The scientific challenge taken up and the barriers
The axes of innovation and axes in relation to the expectations of society
The methodology
The description and use of the resources and means requested
Local, national and international collaborations

The location of the Chair, the ambition of the Pays de Loire region in terms of research and its support to Ifremer's activities and projects are all elements that can freely encourage candidates to strengthen their project by seeking sources of co-financing from the Pays de Loire region or other regional actors interested in either of the two themes of the call for applications. In order for Ifremer to anticipate the administrative procedures for the implementation of the Chair, by adapting them to the situation of the laureate, the candidates will have to explain their individual administrative situation and the conditions and constraints that may accompany their application.

Evaluation criteria

Excellence of the candidate
Originality and relevance of the project with respect to the proposed themes and, more generally, to the issues of sustainable development
Relevance of the proposed methods to the identified challenges
Potential of the project in terms of innovation, expertise in support of public policies, training or scientific mediation
Ability to create links between units of the Ifremer Atlantic center
Coherence with the policy of the Nantes site (ISite NEXT, iC MERS...)
Relevance and structuring effect of the planned collaborations and partnerships (local, national or international)
Adequacy of the means requested for the proposed project and capacity to mobilize complementary means

Ifremer will consider favorably the projects which will have the capacity :

to mobilize complementary means
create links with the Nantes site (ISiteNEXT, Carnot MERS,...)
- create links between the units of the Ifremer center.


Scientific Director of Ifremer: anne.renault@ifremer.fr

Director of the Atlantic Center, Nantes: pierre.labrosse@ifremer.fr