Post-doc or PhD position: “To investigate the origin and diversification of eukaryotic metabolisms in light of Earth history”

This vacancy is the result of the collaboration between Utrecht University and NIOZ. The Department of Marine Microbiology and Biogeochemistry (MMB) located at the Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ) and the Department of Biology / Utrecht Bioinformatics Center at Utrecht University, are looking for a postdoctoral researcher with expertise in phylogenetics, genomics and bioinformatics who is motivated to explore the evolution of metabolism in microbial eukaryotes in relation to earths paleoclimate. The position is offered for four (PhD) or three years (post-doc).

2020-12-17 11:37:44

VACANCY NR.:      2020 – 86
CLOSING DATE:    February 10th, 2021


The candidate will be part of the Department of Marine Microbiology and Biogeochemistry (MMB), as well as at the Utrecht Bioinformatics Center and is funded through a joint grant supporting collaborations between researchers at NIOZ and Utrecht University (UU). Specifically, this project brings together research of Prof. Dr. Snel, who chairs the bioinformatics group at the Department of Biology (UU) as well as of Dr. Anja Spang, who is tenure track scientist at NIOZ. Furthermore, it involves the Co-PIs Dr. Emmanuelle Javaux, an expert in the early eukaryotic fossil record and experts in deep Earth-ocean-atmosphere reconstructions at UU and NIOZ, particularly Dr. Paul Mason (UU) and Rick Hennekam (NIOZ). The combined expertise of Dr. Spang and Dr. Snel spans the earliest aspects of eukaryotic evolution from the microbial ancestors to the vast diversity of extant eukaryotes and brings together expertise in metagenomics, microbial evolution, phylogenetics and molecular dating.


The origin of eukaryotic life represents a defining and enigmatic event in life’s history hypothesized to have occurred in the marine realm through a symbiosis between archaea and bacteria. Importantly, this event has forever changed life on Earth and shaped todays visible biosphere that is dominated by diverse eukaryotic life ranging from algae and protists to plants, animals and fungi. Many crucial questions on the evolution and diversification of the metabolic diversity of eukaryotes throughout Earth and climate history remain unresolved, hampering predictions on the future evolution of ocean life. To shed light on these unanswered questions, we seek to utilize novel bioinformatics, genomics and phylogenetics approaches to be able to combine enzyme evolution with fossil and paleoenvironmental data and in turn bridge eukaryotic diversification with geological records.


We are looking for a researcher who is passionate about bringing hidden histories from genomes into the open. For this we seek a highly motivated PhD student or postdoctoral researcher with a PhD and background in phylogenetics, phylogenomics, metagenomics or related fields willing to learn and apply cross-disciplinary approaches and work in a highly collaborative environment. Experience in the use of the command line and Unix as well as in the application of programming languages such as R and Python are desired. Furthermore, the optimal candidate has a keen interest in evolution and eukaryotic diversity, is a good team player and highly motivated to pursue new avenues of research. Due to the international character of our research, good command of English, spoken as well as written, is a prerequisite. We highly encourage applicants from all members of our research community and of diverse background to join us. 


Employment of this position at Royal NIOZ is by NWO (The Netherlands Organization of Scientific Research). We offer a fulltime position for 3 years (Post-doc) or a period of 4 years (PhD) both fulltime. The PhD position is a offer for a period of 1 year (fulltime). At the end of this first year, the employment will be extended for a fixed-term of a maximum of 4 years, if the first year evaluation held with the employee is positive. The salary is compliant to the CAO-OI (Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Research Institutes), a pension scheme, a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary, a year-end bonus of 8,3%, flexible work arrangements and 42 days of holiday leave (fulltime position).

You may expect attractive secondary employment conditions. We offer generous relocation expenses for employees coming from abroad and support with finding accommodation.


For additional information about this vacancy, please contact: Dr. Anja Spang (Tenure track scientist at NIOZ) and Prof. dr. Berend Snel (Professor at UU). For additional information about the procedure, please contact: Valentijn Tiemensma (senior HR advisor).

Learn more about the Department of Marine Microbiology and Biogeochemistry at NIOZ here and the Utrecht Bioinformatics Center (Department of Biology) at UU here.

Find more information about the UU-NIOZ projects here.

Interviews will be held from January until position is filled and are likely to be virtual due to Covid19-related travel restrictions.


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