PhD position (research assistant) in
marine biology / paleoclimatology

The Institute of Geosciences (Paleontology group) at the University of Mainz invites applications for a PhD studentship (temporary appointment at the level of a research assistant) for candidates interested in developing novel environmental proxies based on bivalve shell microstructures.

Shells of bivalve mollusks offer exceptional potential for high-resolution paleoclimate reconstructions. Bivalves inhabit nearly any aquatic setting, can attain a lifespan of decades to many centuries, and occur abundantly in the fossil record. Most importantly, environmental changes are recorded in their shells - in precise chronological order - in the form of variable growth rates and geochemical properties. Only recently, it has been discovered in some short-lived species that the shell architecture at the micrometer and nanometer scale (= shell microstructure) sensitively reacts to changes in the ambient environment, specifically water temperature. For example, individual biomineral units increase in size and become more elongated as temperature rises. The main objective of the study is to further exploit this high-potential temperature proxy in a variety of other (long-lived) marine bivalve species and develop transfer functions that can be used to quantitatively reconstruct ocean temperature from microstructural properties of the shells. The work will include shell growth pattern and stable isotope analyses as well as extensive SEM work and the use of automated image processing techniques.

Applicants must hold a master degree or equivalent in geosciences, biology, oceanography, fisheries, environmental sciences, or another suitable field of natural sciences. In addition to scientific independence, the ability to organize and prioritize own work and organize research within the project schedule, and a positive attitude toward field and laboratory work, the ideal candidate should demonstrate originality within the overall research focus and excellence in communication skills. Proficiency in written and spoken English is essential, and a basic understanding of German desirable. Further requirements include computer literacy, analytical skills and team working capabilities. Previous international experience is highly desirable. The appointment will be for a maximum of three years. Salary according to E13 TV-L (50-75% position) includes fringe benefits. The University of Mainz is an equal opportunity employer. Disabled persons with comparable qualification receive preferential status.

Interested individuals are invited to submit an application package including a statement of interest, CV, copies of certificates, degree transcripts if available and addresses of three referees as a single pdf to to Prof. Dr. Bernd R. Schöne, Institute for Geosciences, University of Mainz, J.-J.-Becherweg 21, 55128 Mainz, Germany. Application Deadline: 24 July 2018. Further information about the research focus of the Applied and Analytical Paleontology research team can be obtained at

posted: 25 June 2018     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.