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Your tasks will be to sample whale teeth from fossil collections in museums and from recently stranded and deceased whales at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. The animals keep their teeth throughout their lives. We will target sperm whales and harbor porpoises, as both species are of acute interest in terms of population decline, but they represent different ecologies. You will carry out isotopic, elemental and mineralogical analyses, as well as experimental diagenesis, on modern teeth. In parallel to laboratory work, you will compile information on the distribution and ecology of sperm whales and harbor porpoises in the North Sea to evaluate how well the geochemical proxies reflect this knowledge. Based on the results of experimental diagenesis, you will evaluate whether these proxies can be applied to fossil whale teeth and you will carry out a proxy reconstruction in fossil specimens to compare the ecological information with modern whales. If material from tagged animals can be obtained, it will allow cross-testing our reconstructions.
The position is funded by the Geosciences Strategic Themes programme awarded to Emilia Jarochowska (Geosciences) and Lonneke IJsseldijk (Veterinary Medicine). It includes a work contract for four years, as well as a budget for research, travel and publication expenses to support the PhD project. The project will involve collaboration with Helen King (Raman spectroscopy, biomineralisation), Lubos Polerecky (NanoSIMS) and Philip Riekenberg (Royal NIOZ, whale ecology).
You will be based at Utrecht University, but the project foresees travel for training, research collaboration, and meeting with project partners. A personalised training programme will be set up, reflecting your training needs and career objectives. About 20% of your time will be dedicated to this training component, which includes training on the job in assisting in the BSc and MSc teaching programmes of the Earth Sciences department at Utrecht University. We also expect the willingness to dedicate part of the work time to public engagement related to the project, such as public talks or writing for non-specialist audience. Training and support in public engagement is available at Utrecht University.
A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major strategic themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.
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 3,400 students (BSc and MSc) and 720 staff, the faculty is a strong and challenging organisation. The Faculty of Geosciences is organised in four Departments: Earth Sciences, Human Geography & Spatial Planning, Physical Geography, and Sustainable Development.
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.
Princetonlaan 8a, 3584 CB, Utrecht
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