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

PhD position in Marine Palynology and
Paleoceanography (4 yrs)

to work on the research project The role of warm oceans in Oligocene-Miocene Antarctic ice sheet variability, granted by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) to Dr Peter Bijl.

Job description:

The project is highly multidisciplinary and builds upon multiple international collaborations. It aims to reconstruct the Southern Ocean surface water structure and dynamics during the Oligocene and Miocene. The candidate is expected to generate multiple records of organic-walled dinoflagellate cyst assemblages from existing and to-be-drilled sediment cores from offshore the Antarctic continent to assess the structure of the Southern Ocean surface currents. In addition, the project will involve the generation of some organic geochemical biomarker records (notably TEX86) from the same sedimentary records, for absolute paleotemperature reconstructions.

The project will involve active collaborations with researchers from numerous international institutions: sedimentologists, inorganic geochemists, seismic interpreters, terrestrial palynologists. Furthermore, the project will be undertaken in close collaboration with researchers at the Institute of Atmospheric Research Utrecht, where numerical model simulations will be performed in a parallel PhD project, with a similar aim as the project advertised here, and for which exchange of expertise and intense collaboration is highly promoted.

Up to 10% of the candidate's time will be dedicated to assisting in the BSc and MSc teaching programmes of the Earth Sciences department. A personalised training programme will be set up, mutually agreed on recruitment, which will reflect the candidate's training needs and career objectives.


We seek an enthusiastic graduate student holding an MSc degree that ensures appropriate background knowledge such as Earth Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Biology, and with a strong passion for paleoclimate/paleoceanography and micropaleontology. Prior knowledge on dinoflagellate cyst taxonomy is not required, but understanding of paleontology/biostratigraphy/paleoceanography is.

Important accessory qualifications are positive social/verbal/communication skills, determination, willingness to travel abroad, eagerness to develop multidisciplinary skills, and ability to share and explain your results to other research disciplines (notably numerical modelling community). Applicants should have excellent written and spoken English skills.

Terms of employment:

The successful candidate will be offered a full-time position at first for one year. Depending on a good performance this may be extended to a total period of four years, with the specific intent that it results in a doctorate within this period.

Employment conditions are based on the Collective Labour Agreement of the Dutch Universities. The gross monthly salary starts with 2,191,- in the first year and increases to 2,801,- in the fourth year of employment with a full-time appointment. 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 MPP research group focuses on paleoceanographic and paleoenvironmental reconstructions in the entire Phanerozoic, specifically by looking at organic microfossils, usually in close collaboration with additional disciplines in the department and abroad. There is a close link between this project and the paleoclimate research within the virtual Netherlands Earth System Science Centre (NESSC), which focuses on tipping points within the climate system. The specific project is closely tied to a PhD project at the Institute of Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht, where numerical modelling experiments will be undertaken with similar aims as the present project.

Additional information:

For additional information please contact the project leader Dr Peter Bijl,

How to apply:

To apply, please follow this link and the guidelines mentioned there. The application deadline is June 30, 2017. Evaluations and interviews are planned soon thereafter. We aim to start the project on September 1, 2017, or as soon as possible thereafter. Online screening may be part of the selection. Commercial response to this ad is not appreciated.

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posted: 06 June 2017     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.