PostDoc position in organic geochemistry / paleontology

Molecular fingerprint of Paleozoic (micro)fossils using Laser Desorption Laser
Ionization Mass Spectrometry at the sub-millimeter scale

We are seeking a postdoctorate researcher for a duration of 18 months as part of the project "Micro- to nanoscale Molecular, Mineralogical, Morphological and isotopic identification of Micro and Macro-fossils" (m6fossils.univ-lille.fr). The global objective of this project is to develop new methods to identify the nature of problematic organic fossils in order to reconstruct the evolution of life from the earliest microorganisms to the first ecosystems that thrived on land. In particular, this postdoc project will focus on applying Laser Desorption Laser Ionization Mass Spectrometry (L2MS), a technique that is able to recover molecules with minimal fragmentation from a sample using a laser beam smaller than 200 µm in diameter. Microfossils extracted from Paleozoic rocks using acid maceration and fossils within rock slices will be analyzed, including planktonic algae and some of the oldest land plants. The objective and novelty of this project is to distinguish the molecular composition of these fossils using semi-quantitative analysis of L2MS data. In turn, this will start a new database of molecular fingerprints of ancient fossils that can be used to identify the oldest representatives of algae, plants, and other organisms and to better reconstruct their evolution. The data will also be useful for the field of exobiology, as a Laser Desorption Mass Spectrometer will be embarked aboard the ExoMars2020 rover.

The postdoc will join the geochemistry team of the Laboratoire d'Océanologie et de Géosciences and will perform L2MS analyses at the Laboratoire de Physique des Lasers, Atomes et Molécules. Hence, she/he will work with a team of organic geochemists, physicists, and paleontologists. Although the project will focus on the use of our recently acquired high mass resolution L2MS, other state-of-the art analytical facilities will be available, including automated microscopy, ToF-SIMS, aberration-corrected STEM, FIB, SEM, Raman/FTIR, if needed in the course of the project.

Experience in organic geochemistry using GC-MS techniques, and/or Laser-micropyrolysis techniques, and/or ToF-SIMS techniques is important. A general knowledge of paleontology is welcome. Fluency in both spoken and written English is required for publication of results in international journals and team communication.

Application: a curriculum vitae, a copy of the PhD certificate, a statement of research interests and motivations, the .pdf reprint of a relevant paper, and the names and contact details of two potential references should be sent to Dr Kevin Lepot (kevin.lepot@univ-lille.fr). Application reviewing starts now and continues until the position is filled. We are seeking a postdoc position for up to 18 months, to start as early as June 2018. The salary will be commensurate with the candidate's experience.

posted: 13 April 2018     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.