PhD Position in Chimpanzee Culture

PhD Position in Chimpanzee Culture

Published Deadline Location
9 Jul 15 Aug Utrecht
Come and join us to investigate whether great apes have the ability to develop cumulative cultures! Intrigued? Apply and join our group!

Job description

Join the Animal Behaviour and Cognition group at Utrecht University for a full-time four-year PhD position in comparative psychology / behavioural biology!

Your job
The aim of this PhD project is to test whether chimpanzees have the capability and motivation to develop cumulative cultures – the process in which cultural innovations incrementally shape cultural expressions such that they become better suited for their envisioned purpose. You will study chimpanzees’ potential to create and maintain cumulatively established cultures by means of targeted experimental assays. Moreover, you will investigate whether chimpanzees’ social network properties are predictive of their potential to develop cumulative cultures with behavioural observations and network analyses. The position involves 90% research time and 10% teaching activities within the group.

You will be hosted in the Primate Culture Origins Group, led by Dr Edwin van Leeuwen. The group focuses on cultural evolution in non-human primates. You will be embedded in this team in Utrecht, and co-supervised by Daniel Haun, director of the Department of Comparative Cultural Psychology at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI EVA) and Josep Call, Professor in Evolutionary Origins of Mind, University of St. Andrews.

You will conduct a series of studies investigating the cognitive foundations of cumulative cultural evolution in humans’ closest living relatives. The project will be a combination of behavioural studies with chimpanzees in group settings at the Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage Trust (CWOT) in Zambia. Furthermore, there are possibilities to conduct research at the Wolfgang Köhler Primate Research Centre in Germany and the Budongo Research Unit in Edinburgh Zoo. Lastly, there is room to extend research efforts to bonobos. The aim of the project is to assess great apes abilities for cumulative cultural evolution. The project will involve periodic fieldwork (approx. 3-4 months/year) at the CWOT in Zambia.

The CWOT houses chimpanzees in multigenerational groups under semi-natural conditions in a large forested private area in northern Zambia. The chimpanzees forage and sleep outside, and only come inside once per day for supplemental feeding. The setup is very suited for behavioural group-level experiments with relatively high ecological validity.

The project will be a collaborative project involving coordinated contributions from 3 PhD candidates working on the same topic The MPI EVA is recruiting for one of the other PhD positions in this project: PhD for chimpanzees project at MPI EVA.

Come join our team in this exciting PhD position and:
  • combine observational and experimental methods involving behavioural and cognitive measures;
  • work independently at a remote field-site in Zambia;
  • develop theoretical models of cumulative cultural evolution;
  • conduct advanced statistical and analytic analyses on behavioural data;
  • supervise Bachelor's and Master's students (10% of your time).

Specifications

Utrecht University

Requirements

We are looking for an enthusiastic new colleague who is able to “think out of the box” and excited to become part of a committed group of researchers. Furthermore, for this position, we would like you to bring:
  • a Master’s degree in behavioural biology, psychology or a related field;
  • theoretical interest to develop the field of cultural evolution conceptually;
  • experience in conducting behavioural experiments and structural observations of animal social behaviour;
  • proven proficiency with data analysis using R, preferably including network analyses;
  • the social skills to motivate people from different backgrounds and facilitate teamwork;
  • academic writing experience;
  • proficiency in English, both in speech and writing.

We encourage people with a background in the study of social complexity / social physics to apply.

Conditions of employment

We offer:
  • a position for four years;
  • a gross salary starting at €2,770 in the first year and increasing to €3,539 in the fourth year in the case of full-time employment (salary scale P under the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities (CAO NU));
  • 8% holiday pay and 8.3% year-end bonus;
  • a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave and flexible terms of employment based on the CAO NU.

In addition to the terms of employment laid down in the CAO NU, Utrecht University has a number of schemes and facilities of its own for employees. This includes schemes facilitating professional development, leave schemes and schemes for sports and cultural activities, as well as discounts on software and other IT products. We also offer access to additional employee benefits through our Terms of Employment Options Model. In this way, we encourage our employees to continue to invest in their growth. For more information, please visit Working at Utrecht University.

Employer

Universiteit Utrecht

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 Pathways to Sustainability. Sharing science, shaping tomorrow.

At the Faculty of Science there are 6 departments to make a fundamental connection with: Biology, Chemistry, Information and Computing Sciences, Mathematics, Pharmaceutical Sciences and Physics. Each of these is made up of distinct institutes that work together to focus on answering some of humanity’s most pressing challenges. More fundamental still are the individual research groups – the building blocks of our ambitious scientific projects.

You will be embedded in the Animal Behaviour and Cognition (AB&C) group where you will find theoretical and practical support for the study topic. This group is part of the Institute of Environmental Biology within the Department of Biology of Utrecht University. The AB&C group conducts research on animal social behaviour and cognition, in particular primates and birds. The group has its own teaching line within the biology Bachelor education and its own track Behavioural Ecology in the master Environmental Biology.

Additional information

For more information, please contact Dr Edwin van Leeuwen at e.j.c.vanleeuwen@uu.nl.

Do you have a question about the application procedure? Please send an email to science.recruitment@uu.nl.

Specifications

  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • 36—40 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 4053

Employer

Location

Padualaan 8, 3584CH, Utrecht

View on Google Maps

Interesting for you

X

Apply for this job

Apply for this job

This application process is managed by the employer (Utrecht University). Please contact the employer for questions regarding your application.

Thank you for applying

Please contact the employer for questions regarding your application.

Tip: save this job as favorite in your AcademicTransfer account. This gives you an immediate overview and makes it easy to find the job later on. No account yet? Create it now and take advantage of other useful functionalities too!

Application procedure

As Utrecht University, we want to be a home for everyone. We value staff with diverse backgrounds, perspectives and identities, including cultural, religious or ethnic background, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age. We strive to create a safe and inclusive environment in which everyone can flourish and contribute.

To apply, please send us the following documents via the 'apply now' button:
  • your motivation letter;
  • your curriculum vitae;
  • the names, telephone numbers, and email addresses of three referees.

If this specific opportunity isn’t for you, but you know someone else who may be interested, please forward this vacancy to them.
Some connections are fundamental – Be one of them

Application procedure

Application procedure

As Utrecht University, we want to be a home for everyone. We value staff with diverse backgrounds, perspectives and identities, including cultural, religious or ethnic background, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age. We strive to create a safe and inclusive environment in which everyone can flourish and contribute.

To apply, please send us the following documents via the 'apply now' button:
  • your motivation letter;
  • your curriculum vitae;
  • the names, telephone numbers, and email addresses of three referees.

If this specific opportunity isn’t for you, but you know someone else who may be interested, please forward this vacancy to them.
Some connections are fundamental – Be one of them

Make sure to apply no later than 15 Aug 2024 23:59 (Europe/Amsterdam).