The department of Marine Microbiology and Biogeochemistry (MMB; department chair prof. dr. J.S. Sinninghe Damsté), is looking for a highly motivated PhD student with a background in microbial ecology, molecular biology, microbial physiology and/or organic geochemistry, willing to learn and apply cross-disciplinary approaches.
The research of the Department of Marine Microbiology and Biogeochemistry (MBB) has a long story of studying Archaea, especially their role in marine biogeochemical cycles as well as their membrane lipid biomarkers. These are used both in the present but also in the past as fossilized lipid remnants to decipher past climate changes and to reconstruct microbial evolution.
The MMB department is also focused on the identity, activity and physiology of other marine microbes, their interactions, and their consequences for biogeochemical cycling in a variety of marine environments, varying from tidal flats and coral reefs to the deep ocean. The department is equipped with state-of-the-art laboratories and analytical equipment, and has an excellent level of technical support.
Marine systems have been shown to harbor a diverse archaeal community, of which ammonia-oxidizing Thaumarchaeota are the most studied. Archaeal lipids are commonly used as biomarkers of Archaea both in present-day systems and in past environments. However, their biological sources are not well constrained, especially in the light of the expanding archaeal diversity.
The distribution of membrane lipids of Thaumarchaeota in the marine environment are known to be affected by temperature, which led to the formulation of the TEX86 paleotemperature proxy used to estimate sea surface temperature. However, despite its successful application, there are still substantial uncertainties regarding the biological sources and genetic controls on the production of these archaeal lipids.
In this project, we will address these issues by applying different methodological approaches including culturing, lab incubations using stable isotopes, (meta)genomic analyses, and membrane lipid characterization.
We are looking for a highly motivated student with a background in microbial ecology, molecular biology, microbial physiology and/or organic geochemistry, willing to learn and apply cross-disciplinary approaches.
The student will be trained in very diverse methodologies, ranging from lipid analysis, bioinformatics to microbial ecology methods. Field work will also be involved. Due to the international character of the research group, excellent English communication skills are expected.
We offer you a fulltime position for 4 years, a pension scheme, a yearly 8% vacation allowance, year-end bonus and flexible employment conditions. Our labour policies are based on the Dutch Collective Labour Agreement of Research Centers. Cost of relocation and help with housing is provided by the Royal NIOZ.
For additional information about this vacancy, please contact dr. Laura Villanueva (research scientist).
For additional information about the procedure, please contact Jolanda Evers (senior HR advisor).
Learn more about the department of Marine Microbiology and Biogeochemistry here.
Please note that candidates that have submitted an application for the PhD position “Biological sources and genetic controls of the paleotemperature proxy TEX86”, with vacancy ID 2017-061, do not have to apply.