Postdoctoral researcher position in Geobiology

Project title: Nanoscale Characterization of microorganisms
in diagenetically altered silica sinters

A postdoctoral researcher position in Geobiology for up to 2 years is offered at the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP). The position will focus on the artificial silicification and subsequent high-temperature, high-pressure alteration of microorganisms. Specific natural silica-entombment mechanisms, fluid compositions, and effects of adsorbed cations are compared to assess preservation potential of a range of key microbial cell types and more complex microbial communities. The aim is to study the nanoscale changes in structure and composition of silicified microorganisms and entire microbial communities at different stages of artificial diagenesis, and to compare these characteristics with those of altered microbial communities in recrystallized hot spring sinters and well-preserved chert deposits. This work will provide a better understanding of traces of life in preserved deposits from ancient extreme environments.

The position is funded through ERC Consolidator Grant 'TRACES: Tracing Ancient Microbial Cells Embedded in Silica', and the researcher will be part of the research team of Dr. Mark van Zuilen in the Geomicrobiology group at IPGP in Paris.

The Geomicrobiology group at IPGP manages a fully equipped microbiology laboratory and a high-pressure, high-temperature experimental laboratory. IPGP houses the state of the art analytical platform PARI that includes a Raman spectrometer, FTIR-spectrometer, CLSM, SEM, FIB-SEM, and laser ablation-ICP-MS. Our team also has access to NanoSIMS and TEM facilities at associated institutes. During the course of this postdoctoral research project several of these analytical facilities will be extensively used. Further information on the Geomicrobiology group is available at the following webpage:


The successful candidate is motivated and ambitious, has a Ph.D. degree in Biology, Chemistry or Earth Sciences, with a strong interdisciplinary background in biogeochemistry. The ideal candidate has experience with culturing various types of microorganisms, preparation techniques for microbiological samples and has a strong background in high-resolution analytical/imaging techniques. Requirements are a broad interest in the biogeochemistry of modern extreme environments, and the origin and evolution of early life. The candidate should be fluent in English and have a willingness to travel, carry out field work in remote areas, and interact in a strongly interdisciplinary team.

Terms of employment:

We offer a full-time postdoctoral position for 12 months, renewable for 12 months based on reasonable progress. The selected candidate will be employed by IPGP in Paris, following French labour laws. Remunerations will be subject to French income tax.

When and how to apply:

The application deadline is October 15, 2017. Interviews with selected candidates will be held end of October/beginning of November and the project is intended to start January 2018. Applications including a motivation letter, statement of research interests, and CV with contact information of at least two potential referees, should be sent in PDF format to Dr. Mark van Zuilen (

posted: 08 August 2017     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.