The University of Bergen (UiB) is an internationally recognised research university with more than 14,000 students and close to 3,500 employees at six faculties. The university is located in the heart of Bergen. Our main contribution to society is excellent basic research and education across a wide range of disciplines.

PhD position in organic/inorganic geochemistry and South African paleoclimate

PhD position

There is a vacancy for a PhD position in organic/inorganic geochemistry and paleoclimate at the Department of Earth Science/Centre for Early Sapiens Behaviour (SapienCE) at the University of Bergen. SapienCE is a Centre of Excellence, funded by The Research Council of Norway. The position is for a period of 3 years, with the possibility of a 4th year with compulsory other work (e.g. teaching duties at the Department). Formal appointment will be with the Department of Earth Science at the University of Bergen.

About the project/work tasks:

SAPIENCE focuses on the behavioural origins of Homo sapiens in southern Africa between 100,000-50,000 years ago.

An inter-disciplinary team of scientists at University of Bergen and at the facilities of the international partners, integrates high-resolution records of early human cultural, social, technological and subsistence behaviours with innovative geoarchaeological, climate and cognitive data models. This holistic approach will provide groundbreaking insight into the diverse aspects of what it means to be human.

Homo sapiens were anatomically modern by ~300 000 years ago in Africa, but there is no evidence indicating that behaviour was modern at the time. Current archaeological evidence, although limited, highlights the 100-50 ka interval as a juncture for human cognitive, technological and social development. The fundamental causes of this critical transformation remain, however, debated. One often-proposed mechanism is the need to adapt to rapidly changing environmental conditions.

Work tasks:

Depending on the background, skills and interest of the candidate, the advertised PhD fellowship will either I) reconstruct late Pleistocene paleoenvironments in the South African Summer- and Year-round rainfall zone using the combination of marine sediments, organic geochemistry toolkits (e.g. long-chain diols, plant-wax compounds i.e., n-alkane d13C, dD) and climate model output data to determine vegetation shifts as well as shifts in atmospheric moisture sourcing (precipitation) or II) constrain late Pleistocene rainfall variability (fluvial discharge) and its source areas in those zones based on Thermoluminescence and Optically Stimulated Luminescence analysis and XRF (X-ray fluorescence) of marine offshore sediments.

Further, the fellow will, through collaborations with other researchers at the centre, help elucidate the crucial links between climate reconstructions, archaeological evidence and early human behaviour.

Qualifications and personal qualities:

  • Applicants must hold a master's degree or equivalent education in quaternary geology, physical geography or connected Earth Science disciplines, or have submitted their master`s thesis for assessment prior to the application deadline. It is a condition of employment that the master's degree has been awarded.
  • Demonstrated experience with generating paleoenvironmental data, notably using sediment proxy approaches (e.g. XRF, lipid biomarker extraction, pollen assemblages, inorganic geochemistry) is required.
  • Knowledge of multivariate statistical methods and scientific programming (R, Matlab, Python) is preferred as well as experience with plotting programs (R, Grapher or SigmaPlot).
  • Applicants must be skilled in both written and oral English.
  • Applicants must be able to work independently and in a structured way, able to deliver and summarize project milestones and have good communication skills. We are looking for a team player.
  • The applicants must be prepared to work in an international group and spend extended periods at collaborating institutions.
  • Applicants should be willing to participate in fieldwork and excavations in South Africa.

Personal and relational qualities will be emphasized. Ambitions and potential will also count when evaluating the candidates.

About the PhD position:

The fellowship will be for a period of 3 years, with the possibility for a 4th year, consisting of 25 % compulsory work (e.g. teaching responsibilities at the department) distributed across the employment period. The 4th year is contingent on the qualifications of the candidate and the teaching needs of the department, and will be decided upon appointment.

The employment period may be reduced if you have previously been employed in a qualifying post (e.g. research fellow, research assistant).

About the research training:

As a PhD candidate, you must participate in an approved educational programme for a PhD degree within a period of 3 years. A final plan for the implementation of the research training must be approved by the faculty within two months after you have commenced in the position. It is a condition that you satisfy the enrolment requirements for the PhD programme at the University of Bergen.

We can offer:

  • A good and professionally challenging working environment
  • Salary at pay grade 54 (Code 1017/LR20, alternative 10) in the state salary scale. This constitutes a gross annual salary of NOK 479 600,-. Further promotions are made according to length of service in the position.
  • Enrolment in the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund
  • Good welfare benefits

Your application must include:

  • a brief account of the applicant's research interests as well as qualifications and motivation for applying for the position, including a dissertation proposal on the proposed PhD topic (max 5 pages).
  • the names and contact information for two referees. One of these should be the main advisor for the master's thesis or equivalent thesis
  • CV
  • transcripts and diplomas showing completion of the bachelor's and master's degrees, or official confirmation that the master's thesis has been submitted
  • relevant certificates/references
  • approved documentation of proficiency in English (if required, cf. English language requirements for PhD admission)
  • a list of any works of a scientific nature (publication list)
  • any publications in your name

The application and appendices with certified translations into English or a Scandinavian language must be uploaded at Jobbnorge.

General information:

For further details about the position, please contact:

Dr Margit Simon
Senior Researcher (Forsker II)
NORCE Climate& Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research/Centre for Early Sapiens Behaviour
Office phone:(+47) 56107552,

The state labour force shall reflect the diversity of Norwegian society to the greatest extent possible. Age and gender balance among employees is therefore a goal. It is also a goal to recruit people with immigrant backgrounds. People with immigrant backgrounds and people with disabilities are encouraged to apply for the position.

The University of Bergen applies the principle of public access to information when recruiting staff for academic positions.

Information about applicants may be made public even if the applicant has asked not to be named on the list of persons who have applied. The applicant must be notified if the request to be omitted is not met.

The successful applicant must comply with the guidelines that apply to the position at all times.

For further information about the recruitment process, click here.

posted: 19 December 2019     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.