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. Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives.

Postdoctoral position on the completeness of the fossil record (up to 4 years)

We are looking for a postdoctoral researcher in the project "MindTheGap: Quantifying the completeness of the stratigraphic record and its role in reconstructing the tempo and mode of evolution" at the Department of Earth Sciences, Utrecht University. This project bridges the divide between modern understanding of sedimentology and quantitative stratigraphy and evolutionary reconstructions based on the fossil record. Although we have numerous evidence that the structure of geological strata overprints our reconstructions heavily by determining which time intervals and environments become selectively preserved, evolutionary biology has not, until now, exploited our knowledge of this structure. The project team will combine models of stochastic sedimentation, astronomical forcing, and sedimentary and diagenetic self-organisation to create 3D models of carbonate platforms.

Your tasks will be:

  • to generate stratigraphic architectures of carbonate platforms using numerical forward modelling in Matlab;
  • in collaboration with the team (including a software engineer), development on the forward model to include parameters important in carbonate deposition;
  • based on the simulations, create an ensemble of stratigraphic architectures corresponding to the drivers shaping them;
  • to collaborate with the PhD candidate in the team in coupling these architectures with evolutionary models developed in R Software;
  • together with the team, implement methods of discriminating between drivers based on quantitative characteristics of stratigraphic architectures compiled in the ensemble;
  • to participate in public engagement, for example through public talks, popular science writing or creation of educational apps to convey the findings of the project;
  • to contribute to building a scientific team, which will include engaging BSc, MSc and internship students in the research carried out within the project through individual and group feedback rounds and through contributing into designing their projects and supporting them in interpretations.

You will be based at Utrecht University, while the project foresees travel for training, research collaboration, and meeting with project partners. Your training and development will be agreed upon in an early stage of the project and then monitored and, where necessary, adjusted at least once per year following our regular Assessment & Development cycle.

The position is funded by the ERC Starting Grant project awarded to Emilia Jarochowska, including research, travel and publication expenses to support the postdoctoral project. The project team includes international collaborators David De Vleeschouwer (Münster University), Rachel Warnock (Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg) and Peter Burgess (University of Liverpool) and will include a PhD student and a software engineer based at the Department of Earth Sciences.


The ideal candidate has the following qualifications:

  • a PhD degree in Sedimentology, Earth Sciences, Marine Geology or related field at the start of the position;
  • documented experience in independent use of numerical modelling for geoscientific purposes (any programming environment);
  • demonstrated familiarity with marine carbonate sedimentology (e.g. previous courses or research projects);
  • excellent written and spoken English skills and being highly motivated to work in an international team.

Desired qualifications include:

  • familiarity with astrochronology;
  • basic knowledge of palaeontology or evolutionary biology (e.g. completed course, internship, previous collaboration or similar);
  • a good command of R Software;
  • familiarity with carbonate diagenesis.

Please describe in your motivation letter how your training and experience corresponds with these qualifications.

Terms of employment:

We offer a temporary position (0.8 - 1.0 fte) for one year in an international working environment. After positive evaluation, there is a possibility of extension to a maximum total of 4 years. The gross starting salary - depending on previous qualifications and experience - ranges between €3,413 and €3,974 (scale 10.3 - 10.7 according to the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities) per month for a full-time employment.

Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and an end-of-year bonus of 8,3% per year. In addition, you will have access to all equipment in our state-of-the-art laboratory infrastructure, coaching for teaching and supervision of researchers, and training and support regarding the acquisition of external funds. Utrecht University offers excellent secondary conditions external link, including an attractive retirement scheme, (partly paid) parental leave and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model). For more information, please visit working at Utrecht University. Facilities for childcare and sports are available on campus.

About the organisation:

Utrecht University's Faculty of Geosciences studies the Earth: from the Earth's core to its surface, including man's spatial and material utilisation of the Earth - always with a focus on sustainability and innovation. With a population of 3,400 students (BSc and MSc) and 720 staff, the Faculty is a strong and challenging organisation. The Faculty is organised in four Departments: Earth Sciences, Physical Geography, Sustainable Development, 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 tenured staff of over 45 scientists and more than 110 PhD students and postdoctoral researchers. Our research programme spans four intertwined themes: Climate & Life, Earth interior, Earth materials, and Environmental Earth Sciences. We house or have access to a wide variety of world-class laboratories.

About Utrecht:

Utrecht is the fourth largest city in the Netherlands with a population of nearly 360,000 and forms a hub in the middle of the country. Its historic city centre and its modern central station can easily be reached from the Utrecht Science Park by public transport or by a 15-minute bicycle ride. Utrecht boasts beautiful canals with extraordinary wharf cellars housing cafés and terraces by the water, as well as a broad variety of shops and boutiques.

Additional information:

For informal questions, please contact Dr Emilia Jarochowska via e.b.jarochowska@uu.nl.

How to apply:

To apply, please follow this link and the guidelines mentioned there. The application deadline is November 30th, 2022. Evaluations and online interviews are planned in the first half (5-16) of December. The intended starting date is February 1, 2023 or asap thereafter.

However, note that international candidates that need a visa/work permit for the Netherlands require at least four months processing time after selection and acceptance. This will be arranged with help of the International Service Desk (ISD) of our university. Finding appropriate housing in or near Utrecht is your own responsibility, but the ISD may be able to advise you therewith. In case of general questions about working and living in The Netherlands, please consult the Dutch Mobility Portal.

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: 04 November 2022     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.