Description of the consultancy:

OBIS is a global project that, through a global collaborative platform, provides access to scientific data and information on the diversity, abundance, and distribution of marine species. OBIS is one of the projects of IODE (International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange), which is a programme of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO and was founded in 1961. The purpose is to enhance marine research, exploitation, and development, by facilitating the exchange of oceanographic data and information between participating member states and by developing applications that meet the needs of users of marine data and information products. OBIS has recently incorporated genetic data using the DNA derived data extension, and is developing multiple projects in eDNA sampling, such as PacMAN and eDNA expeditions in marine World Heritage Sites.

OBIS is seeking an individual consultant to assist with the coordination of both the scientific development as well as data management of the two eDNA projects. While eDNA sampling is expected to revolutionize the way we sample and analyze biodiversity in the environment, it is still in the initial stages of uptake. The task of the consultant is to ensure that sampling, sample analysis and data management are all done according to the best available practices, and that the results from this project can help kick-start the new era of shared, openly accessible, global knowledge on biodiversity.

Specific tasks:

Under the supervision of Ward Appeltans (OBIS project manager) and Dr Fanny Douvere (head
marine World Heritage programme), and working closely together with the Pieter Provoost (OBIS
data manager) the individual consultant will:
(i) Assist in the coordination of PacMAN and eDNA expeditions a. Coordinate communication between the management team and the (scientific) advisory boards
b. Assist in the scientific analysis and synthesis of the data resulting from the sampling campaigns

(ii) Assist in developing data management practices and workflows
a. Further develop the PacMAN bioinformatics workflow for sample analysis, while ensuring data formatting and ingestion into OBIS
b. Assist in conceptualizing the data platform of eDNA expeditions and coordinate discussions on data analysis from the project
c. Test and take part in developing current eDNA data management practices in the framework of the MARCO-BOLO project.

(iii) Coordinate the development of sampling and sample processing workflows
a. Ensure that sample processing is done according to current best scientific practices, and in a standardized manner across all sampling locations and times
b. Monitor progress of sample processing c. Communicate on the tasks and monitor progress of sample analysis with the partner eDNA laboratory.

Requirements / consultant’s profile:

– Scientific background (PhD) with experience in marine science and molecular ecology, preferably in sampling and metabarcoding workflows, as well as scientific publishing
– Experience in the independent design of experiments and in-depth understanding of marine sampling campaigns as well as laboratory work
– Experience in bioinformatics, and knowledge of R, python, and GitHub
– Knowledge on global biodiversity databases and their data sharing requirements
– Experience with working in an international context
– Fluent in spoken and written English
– Self-motivated and resourceful, with the proven ability to multi-task and prioritize multiple
– Ability to work individually and as part of a team
– Willingness to travel as needed

Duration of the consultancy:

Start date: 1 January 2023
Completion date: 31 December 2023
Start and completion dates are subject to discussion following the workplan that will be submitted
by the consultants, knowing that 11 months is the maximum duration of the contract.

How to apply:

Your written should comprise:
(a) A technical Proposal consisting of
– an up-to-date personal curriculum vitae
– a statement indicating how your qualifications and experience make you suitable for the assignment
– an indication of the approach you would adopt to carry out the assignment, including any input that may be required from UNESCO
(b) The amount to be charged for the assignment, which should be quoted in US dollars or in Euros only. Please give as much detail as possible and show any travel costs separately.
Your proposal and any supporting documents must be either in English or French.

E-mail proposals should not exceed 5MB.
The e-mail address is: w.appeltans@unesco.org with mandatory cc to: info@iode.org

Deadline to apply:

Your proposal should be submitted by e-mail no later than close of business (23:59-Paris time) on Sunday 04 December 2022.


The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC) is the United Nations body responsible for supporting global ocean science and services. The IOC enables its 150 Member States to work together to protect the health of our shared ocean by coordinating programmes in areas such as ocean observations, tsunami warnings and marine spatial planning. Since it was established in 1960, the IOC has provided a focus for all other United Nations bodies that are working to understand and improve the management of our oceans, coasts and marine ecosystems. Today, the IOC is supporting all its Member States to build their scientific and institutional capacity in order to achieve the global goals including the UN Agenda 2030 and its Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction.