Doctoral student in molecular palaeontology

Lunds universitet
April 21 2017
Position Type
Full Time
Organization Type

Introduction text:

Molecular palaeontology is an emerging geobiological discipline directed to the study of multimillion-year-old biomolecules that provide information on the evolutionary history, biology, physiology, and/or ecology of both modern and ancient organisms. Applications are invited for a four year PhD-studentship investigating the anatomy, histology, preservation, and taphonomy of fossilised biomineralised and non-biomineralised tissues from the Eocene Fur Formation of Denmark, with particular focus devoted to proteinaceous and/or pigmented organic matter. The position is within the ‘Molecular palaeontology' group at the Department of Geology, Lund University, which works in close collaboration with the molecular palaeontology group at the North Carolina State University, headed by Professor Mary H. Schweitzer. Local contacts include MUSERUM and the Mo-clay Museum.

Work description:

The successful candidate will undertake research on the preservation, taphonomy and diagenetic history of both naturally biomineralised and originally non-biomineralised animal tissues. Particular focus will be directed towards proteinaceous and/or pigmented bionic matter and those taphonomic pathways enabling its survival across geological time. The earliest Eocene (about 54 million years ago) Fur Formation of northern Jutland, Denmark, is replete with exquisitely preserved fossils (including birds, reptiles, bony fish, and insects); these reflect the organismal diversity immediately after the most pronounced greenhouse event of the Cenozoic Era and will be used as a model system. Causes for the exceptional preservation will be elucidated, and the fossilised remains will be examined from a number of aspects, including timing of stabilisation, degree of degradation, and influence of diagenetic alteration. These studies will be complemented by laboratory experiments designed specifically to simulate the taphonomic pathways contributing to the conservation of soft-tissue structures. Main tasks will include spectroscopic and spectrometric analyses, but also implementation of data from the degradation experiments. The successful applicant will have opportunities to learn a broad array of analytical techniques, including histology, scanning and transmission electron microscopy (SEM and TEM), infrared microspectroscopy, immunostaining, and mass spectrometry.

The four year studentship is sub-divided into three years of research and one year of PhD courses.

The PhD student is expected to take an active part in the institution's teaching program and help out with basic educational tasks. Such activities can amount to up to 20 % of full time, but are compensated through extension of the studentship.


The successful candidate is a highly skilled and dedicated life-science student who is committed to state-of-the art research. He or she is expected to hold a university degree (MSc. or equivalent) in biochemistry, molecular or evolutionary biology or palaeontology. Documented experience in laboratory activities with focus on mass spectrometry/proteomics and/or immunostaining is desirable. Documented knowledge of animal anatomy, physiology and/or palaeontology is a merit. Documented experience in scientific writing, such as publications, essays or equivalent, in English is essential. We are looking for an independent and creative person who thrives in a dynamic research environment. The project requires close collaboration with international scientists, and accordingly the applicant should be able to work both independently and collaboratively. Moreover, the applicant should be able to take responsibility for parts of the research project.

The candidate will be called for an interview before appointment.


Students with basic eligibility for third-cycle studies are those who- have completed a second-cycle degree- have completed courses of at least 240 credits, of which at least 60 credits are from second-cycle courses, or- have acquired largely equivalent knowledge in some other way, in Sweden or abroad.

The employment of doctoral students is regulated in the Swedish Code of Statues 1998: 80. Only those who are or have been admitted to PhD-studies may be appointed to doctoral studentships. When an appointment to a doctoral studentship is made, the ability of the student to benefit from PhD-studies shall primarily be taken into account. In addition to devoting themselves to their studies, those appointed to doctoral studentships may be required to work with educational tasks, research and administration, in accordance with specific regulations in the ordinance.

Type of employment

Limit of tenure, four years according to HF 5 kap 7§.

This job comes from a partnership with Science Magazine and Euraxess