Utrecht University has great ambitions for its teaching quality and study success rates. This also applies to its clear research profiles which are centred around four themes: Dynamics of Youth, Institutions, Life Sciences and Sustainability. Utrecht University plays a prominent role in our society and contributes to finding the answers to topical and future societal issues.

The Department of Earth Sciences is now looking for highly-motivated, high-potential applicant to fill a:

Post-doctoral position in biogeosciences (3 yrs)

to work on the research project CO2 - dependent carbon isotope fractionation in dinoflagellate cysts; calibrating an emerging CO2 proxy based on modern systems and glacial-interglacial cycles, granted by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) to Prof. Dr Appy Sluijs.

Job description:

Pronounced uncertainty remains regarding the reconstructions of atmospheric CO2 concentrations through geological time, despite significant progress over the past decade. Based on our initial studies, the stable carbon isotopic composition of dinoflagellate cysts (δ13CDINO) may serve as a proxy for past CO2 concentrations[1,2,3]. We have quantified the relation between CO2 and dinoflagellate δ13C in controlled growth experiments and determined the physiological processes determining this response. In addition, we have developed a new analytical procedure to enable reliable analyses of species-specific δ13CDINO based on single specimens[4]. These initial studies have provided the physiological and biogeological underpinning as well as the analytical advances required for the reconstruction of past CO2 concentrations based on fossil dinocysts.

We are now looking for a postdoctoral researcher to:

  • quantify the relation between CO2 and δ13CDINO in the modern ocean by using surface sediments and sediment traps to validate the growth experiments.
  • test if CO2 can be reliably reconstructed using δ13CDINO for the ice ages of the past million years, for which good CO2 data are available from ice cores.
  • apply the new proxy to reconstruct CO2 during past climates.


  • [1] Hoins, M., Van de Waal, D. B., Eberlein, T., Reichart, G.-J., Rost, B., and Sluijs, A. (2015): Stable carbon isotope fractionation of organic cyst-forming dinoflagellates: Evaluating the potential for a CO2 proxy, Geochim Cosmochim Ac, 160, 267-276, doi:10.1016/j.gca.2015.04.001.
  • [2] Hoins, M., Eberlein, T., Großmann, C., Brandenburg, K., Reichart, G.-J., Rost, B., Sluijs, A., and Van de Waal, D. B. (2016a): Combined effects of ocean acidification and light or nitrogen availabilities on 13C fractionation in marine dinoflagellates, PLoS One, 11, e0154370, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0154370.
  • [3] Hoins, M., Eberlein, T., Van de Waal, D. B., Sluijs, A., Reichart, G.-J., and Rost, B. (2016b): CO2-dependent carbon isotope fractionation in dinoflagellates relates to their inorganic carbon fluxes, Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 481, 9-14, doi:10.1016/j.jembe.2016.04.001.
  • [4] Van Roij, L., Sluijs, A., Laks, J. J., and Reichart, G.-J. (2017): Stable carbon isotope analyses of ng quantities of particulate organic carbon (pollen) with laser ablation nano combustion gas chromatography isotope ratio mass spectrometry, Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, 31, 47-58, doi:10.1002/rcm.7769.


We seek a highly motivated candidate with the following requirements:

  • A PhD degree and a very good publication record;
  • Practicle experience in isotope ratio mass spectrometry and (marine) organic carbon isotope systems;
  • Experience with the supervision of students;
  • Experience in (dinoflagellate cyst) micropaleontology is not required, but desirable.

Applicants must have excellent written and spoken English skills and be highly motivated to work in an international team.

Terms of employment:

We offer a temporary position as post doc for three years. Employment conditions are based on the Collective Labour Agreement of the Dutch Universities. The gross monthly salary is dependent on qualifications and experience and starts between 2,943,- and 3,555.-. The salary is supplemented by a holiday allowance of 8% per year and an end-of-year bonus of 8.3%. In addition, we offer a pension scheme, collective insurance schemes and flexible employment conditions.

Facilities for sports and child care are available on our main campus (where the Department of Earth Sciences is situated), which is located only 15 minutes away from the historical city centre of Utrecht.

About the organisation:

The Utrecht Faculty of Geosciences offers education and research concerning the geosphere, biosphere, atmosphere and hydrosphere. With a population of 2600 students (BSc and MSc) and 600 staff, the Faculty is a strong and challenging organisation. The Faculty is organised in four Departments: Innovation, Environmental & Energy Sciences, Earth Sciences, Physical Geography, and Human Geography & Spatial Planning.

The Department of Earth Sciences conducts teaching and research across the full range of the solid Earth and environmental Earth sciences, with activities in almost all areas of geology, geochemistry, geophysics, biogeology and hydrogeology. The department hosts a highly international group of more than 100 PhD students and postdoctoral researchers and houses a wide variety of world-class laboratories. The hired Post-doc will be embedded within the Marine Palynology and Paleoceanography (MPP) group at the department. MPP includes several dinoflagellate cyst experts and carries out research from culturing experiments to Mesozoic paleoceanography, in tight collaborations with biologists, (in)organic geochemists, sedimentologists and stratigraphers in the department and the climatologists and oceanographers at the Department of Physics. The Faculty of Geosciences exhibits a world-class laboratory with ample, modern facilities including isotope ratio mass spectrometers, laser ablation and, uniquely, a nano-combustion-GC-IRMS. Also the lab hosts a NanoSIMS. The postdoc will dominantly work in the palynological and laser-ablation labs for dinocyst carbon isotope analyses.

National and international collaborations:

Additional information:

For additional information please contact the project leader Prof. Dr Appy Sluijs, a.sluijs@uu.nl.

How to apply:

To apply, please follow this link and the guidelines mentioned there. The application deadline is April 30, 2017. Evaluations and interviews are planned soon thereafter. The starting date is flexible: July 1, 2017 or as soon as possible thereafter. Online screening may be part of the selection. Commercial response to this ad is not appreciated.

Click here to view all Utrecht University ads on the site

posted: 21 March 2017     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.