PhD position in Marine Palynology and
Paleoclimatology EECO (4 years)

Job description:

The Department of Earth Sciences at Utrecht University is currently seeking a motivated PhD candidate to work on the research project

Early Eocene Climate Sensitivity and Polar Amplification: a high-resolution multi-proxy approach.

Forecasting the magnitude of future global and regional warming is among the grand scientific challenges. Model estimates of long-term warming resulting from a doubling of the CO2 concentration relative to the pre-industrial era range between 1.5 and 4.5 ºC. Moreover, it remains uncertain to what extent this warming is amplified towards polar regions.

Within a Consolidator Project funded by the European Research Council termed SPANC, these factors, Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity and polar amplification, will be investigated through accurate reconstructions of past climate change. To this end, the hired PhD candidate will generate reconstructions of pCO2, temperature and ecology across portions of the Early Eocene (56 - 49 million years ago). Such proxy records will be based on sedimentary organic matter (biomarkers, dinoflagellate cyst assemblages and δ13C) and foraminifer calcite (isotope and elemental ratios).

The project leader and daily supervisor will be Prof. Dr. Appy Sluijs, and close collaboration in this project will be with Dr. Peter Bijl and Dr. Francien Peterse. The SPANC project further encompasses a postdoc validating and calibrating a novel proxy for CO2 based on dinoflagellate culturing experiments. In addition, there is currently a vacancy for a PhD student who will focus on the Miocene (follow this link). Analytical support is available through two technicians. Further collaborations will be with colleagues at Utrecht University and abroad, notably (organic) geochemists, micropaleontologists and climate modelers.

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 personalized 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 PhD student holding an MSc degree (at the start of the contract) that ensures appropriate background knowledge in the earth sciences and/or (geo)biology, and with a strong passion for paleoclimate and paleoceanography. You have a solid knowledge on the primary drivers governing climate and climate change on geological time scales, integrated stratigraphy, sedimentology and paleoceanography, including paleoenvironmental proxies. Prior knowledge and experience on biomarker geochemistry and dinoflagellate cyst paleontology is helpful but not required.

You approach scientific problems with determination, are willing to travel abroad, and eager to develop multidisciplinary skills. You have some experience in a (geo)chemical laboratory, and you possess the communicational skills to effectively share and explain your results to colleagues, both proxy experts and members from other research disciplines (such as climate modelers). You also have excellent written and spoken English skills.

Terms of employment:

You will be offered a full-time position at first for one year. With good performance this will be extended to a total period of four years, with the specific intent that it results in a doctorate within this period. Collective Labour Agreement of the Dutch Universities. The gross monthly salary starts with €2,325 in the first year and increases to €2,972 in the fourth year (scale P) 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, (partly paid) parental leave, 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.

You will be working within the group of Marine Palynology & Paleoceanography (MPP), and collaborate closely with members of the Organic Geochemistry (OG) group. These groups focus on developing and applying tools to reconstruct climate and environment throughout the Phanerozoic, specifically through the analysis of organic microfossils and biomarker lipids using micropaleontological and geochemical techniques. Collaborations are also expected with inorganic geochemists and modelers in Utrecht and abroad.

The MPP group consists of 4 permanent staff, 2 postdocs, about 8 PhD students and usually 10-15 MSc students. The OG group consists of 1.4 FTE permanent staff, 2 PhD students and 5 MSc students.

Additional information:

Additional information about the vacancy can be obtained from the PI of the SPANC project, Prof. Dr. Appy Sluijs via

How to apply:

To apply, please follow this link and the guidelines mentioned there. Applications will be accepted until December 15th, 2018. Evaluations and interviews are planned soon thereafter. The intended start will be in the Spring of 2019.

Online screening may be part of the selection. Commercial response to this ad is not appreciated.

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posted: 05 November 2018     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.