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Postdoctoral project on the developmental evolution of the jaw in stem and crown group gnathostomes

Working at Naturalis Biodiversity Center? We are often searching for ambitious professionals with passion for nature and research.

What it is about
The Postdoctoral project is on the investigation of the process of acquisition of the vertebrate jaw and evolution of modularity. The evolution of component modules forming a complex structure is studied, testing hypotheses on stepwise acquisition caused by disparate evolution of the components. The main objective is to study the integration of the different components in the jaw. The project will employ a general qualitative study of jaws in stem and crown group gnathostomes with an emphasis on basal taxa. Quantitative tests using a geometric morphometrics or anatomical network analysis approach on lower jaws of extant osteichthyans will be used to test the suggested modularity and integration of components. This framework will be used to identify component evolution in fossil stem osteichthyans, stem chondrichthyans and stem gnathostomes. A comparative developmental analysis of selected fossil and recent taxa will complete the study.Finally, major changes in the evolution of jaws will be timed in a macroevolutionary study combining the results of all the researchers involved in the research team of Dr. Martin Rücklin.

Who we are
The postdoctoral position is a part of the research project “Deep-time evolution of vertebrate jaws and teeth” funded by a Vidi grant of the Dutch National Science Foundation (NWO) to Dr. Martin Rücklin (Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden). We seek to test hypotheses on the evolutionary importance of key innovations. The project started in October 2015 using jaws and teeth as a model addressing in three main projects on modular evolution (You, postdoc), evolution of complexity (Dr. Aidan Couzens, Postdoc) and the evolution of developmental mechanisms (Dr. Martin Rücklin, PI). A synthesis of these lines of evidence using time bins and phylogeny will allow a macroevolutionary interpretation and test of major ecological changes in vertebrate history. The “Rücklin lab” experiments with evodevo approaches in a palaeobiological framework, main collaborations are with the labs of Prof. Michael Richardson (Leiden University) and Prof. Philip Donoghue (University of Bristol, UK). At Naturalis we are a part of the ‘Endless forms’ research group led by Dr. Barbara Gravendeel and Dr. Martin Rücklin.

What we want

The candidate must have completed a doctoral degree in a relevant field (palaeontology, biology, or earth sciences). A strong track record of publications in both specialist palaeontological journals and multidisciplinary journals is preferred. The candidate must have prior experience with collections-based research, preferably in the area of Palaeozoic fishes and must have experience with x-ray tomography techniques and preferably experience and skills in digital rendering of tomographic datasets. Prior experience with the supervision of student projects is favoured. Excellent knowledge of the English language (written and verbal) is required along with a scientific and critical attitude, excellent time management and organizational skills, and the ability to work independently as well as collaboratively within my team. The candidate should have good communication skills and teaching experience is an advantage. The successful candidate will learn new methods from collaborating labs and will have to be flexible to spend time in other labs and collections outside of Leiden and the Netherlands.

What we offer
A contract (36 hours per week) for a period of one year, to be extended with one and a half years after a successful first year evaluation. A salary of circa € 3.000 - 3.500,- gross per month, circa € 40.000-47.000 gross per year, depending on relevant experience. The successful candidate will be employed by Naturalis in Leiden. Naturalis Biodiversity Center promotes gender equality and wants to enhance the diversity of staff members. Feel free to contact Dr. Martin Rücklin with questions about the position: martin.rucklin@naturalis.nl.

Applicants are invited to submit their application including a cover letter, CV and list of publications (ordered as followed: refereed articles including citation index, non-refereed articles, books, book chapters, popular publications and abstracts in proceedings), a one- to two-page research statement, and at least two letters of recommendation (these need to be sent directly to sollicitaties@naturalis.nl by referees who have had close academic contact with the applicant) before 16th of September 2017 using the the application form. Preferred start is between 1st of October 2017 and 1st of  January 2018, latest possible start is 1st of April 2018..