Doctoral student in vertebrate palaeobiology (PA2021/125)

Updated: 28 days ago
Deadline: 09 Feb 2021

Lund University was founded in 1666 and is repeatedly ranked among the world’s top 100 universities. The University has 40 000 students and more than 8 000 staff based in Lund, Helsingborg and Malmö. We are united in our efforts to understand, explain and improve our world and the human condition.


Subject description

A PhD studentship in vertebrate palaeobiology is hereby announced at the Department of Geology, Lund University (LU), Sweden. The research project is provisionally entitled: A holistic approach to the biology, physiology and phylogeny of Mesozoic plesiosaurs (Reptilia, Sauropterygia).

The four-year position is co-funded through the Faculty of Science, LU (one year), and grants from the Swedish Research Council (three years) to Dr Johan Lindgren, Department of Geology, LU, and includes both salary and some research funds. However, the successful candidate is expected to apply for additional funding to cover certain activities, such as analysis costs and conference participation.

Plesiosaurs – celebrated marine reptiles of the Mesozoic Era – traditionally have been portrayed as a snake threaded through the body of a sea turtle, despite the obvious functional and physiological disadvantages of such a design. Because the form and external appearance of animals are determined by complex interplays of biological and evolutionary processes, the proposed project will employ an interdisciplinary experimental approach to address fundamental questions pertaining to the gross anatomy, swimming performance and thermoregulatory capabilities of plesiosauromorph (long-necked) plesiosaurs.

The position is linked to a dynamic research group at the Department of Geology, LU, that combines evolutionary biology and comparative anatomy with taphonomy and molecular palaeontology in order to enhance our understanding about the fossil record. The group works in close collaboration with other leading scientists in Sweden, Germany, Japan, and the USA.

Work duties

The successful candidate will undertake research on the body form, hydrodynamic skills and thermoregulatory capabilities of plesiosauromorph plesiosaurs. He/she will further search for and characterise primary soft-tissue microstructures and endogenous organic compounds preserved inside plesiosaur dental and skeletal elements, with the ultimate goal of performing phylogenetic analyses based on molecular datasets. Main tasks will include computational simulations and morphometric studies, but also implementation of data from soft-tissue analyses. The successful applicant will have opportunities to learn a broad array of methodologies, including scientific modelling, scanning and transmission electron microscopy (SEM and TEM), and mass spectrometry.

The main duties of doctoral students are to devote themselves to their research studies, which include participation in research projects and third-cycle courses. The work duties can also include teaching and/or other departmental duties. Such activities can amount to up to 20 % of full time, but are compensated through extension of the studentship.

The four-year studentship is sub-divided into three years of research and one year of PhD courses.

Admission requirements

A person meets the general admission requirements for third-cycle courses and study programmes if he/she:

  • has been awarded a second-cycle qualification, or
  • has satisfied the requirements for courses comprising at least 240 credits of which at least 60 credits were awarded in the second cycle, or
  • has acquired equivalent knowledge in some other way in Sweden or abroad.

The successful candidate is a highly skilled and dedicated life-science student who is committed to do state-of-the art research. He/she is expected to hold a university degree (MSc or equivalent) in evolutionary biology or palaeontology. Documented experience in computational modelling and/or simulations is desirable. Moreover, in-depth knowledge of animal anatomy, physiology and/or palaeontology is a merit. Experience in scientific writing, e.g. publications, essays or equivalent, in English is essential. We are looking for an independent and creative person who thrives in an active research environment. The project requires close collaboration with international scientists, and accordingly the applicant should be able to work both independently and collaboratively. Finally, the applicant should be able to take responsibility for parts of larger research projects.

The candidate will be called for an interview before appointment.

Additional requirements:

  • Very good oral and written proficiency in English.

Assessment criteria

Selection for third-cycle studies is based on the student’s potential to profit from such studies. The assessment of potential is made primarily on the basis of academic results from the first and second cycle. Special attention is paid to the following:

  • Knowledge and skills relevant to the thesis project and the subject of study.
  • An assessment of ability to work independently and to formulate and tackle research problems.
  • Written and oral communication skills.
  • Other experience relevant to third-cycle studies, e.g., professional experience.
  • Consideration will also be given to good collaborative skills, drive and independence, and how the applicant, through his/her experience and skills, is deemed to have the abilities necessary for successfully completing the third-cycle programme.

    Terms of employment

    Only those admitted to third-cycle studies may be appointed to a doctoral studentship. Third-cycle studies at LU consist of full-time studies for 4 years. A doctoral studentship is a fixed-term employment of a maximum of 5 years (including 20 % departmental duties). Doctoral studentships are regulated in the Higher Education Ordinance (1993:100), chapter 5, 1–7 §§.

    Limit of tenure, 4 years according to HF 5 kap 7§.

    Instructions on how to apply

    Applications shall be written in English and include a cover letter stating the reasons why you are interested in the position and in what way the research project corresponds to your interests and educational background. The application must also contain a CV, degree certificate or equivalent, and other documents you wish to be considered (grade transcripts, contact information for your references, letters of recommendation, etc.).


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