PhD EU-ITN SeaChanges Archaeology of sea turtles using aDNA & isotopes

PhD EU-ITN SeaChanges Archaeology of sea turtles using aDNA & isotopes

Published Deadline Location
15 May 16 Jun Groningen

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Green sea turtle population dynamics and foraging ecology in the ancient Mediterranean:
This project will combine genetic and stable isotope analyses of ancient green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) bones to assess effects of changes in human exploitation and foraging ecology upon

Job description

Green sea turtle population dynamics and foraging ecology in the ancient Mediterranean:
This project will combine genetic and stable isotope analyses of ancient green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) bones to assess effects of changes in human exploitation and foraging ecology upon connectivity and effective population size in the eastern Mediterranean c. 2500 BC – AD 500. Sea turtles are iconic endangered species for which effective conservation relies upon knowledge of their ecology and past population dynamics. While humans have exploited sea turtles in the Mediterranean since the Late Quaternary, periodic increases in relative abundance of sea turtle bones at archaeological sites coincide with periods of urbanisation, technological advancement, and intensified maritime interconnectivity, e.g. during the Iron Age, when coastal towns grew under the influence of Phoenician trade networks.

The candidate will analyse stable isotopes and DNA from archaeological sea turtle material from periods of both intensive and small-scale exploitation during the Late Iron Age and Roman periods. Analyses of ancient DNA data will serve as the basis to infer temporal changes in population sizes and connectivity, while nitrogen and carbon isotopes (secondment at York, supervised by dr. Michelle Alexander) will provide data on diet and habitat use, which will be used to explore any linkage between population dynamics and dietary habits. Custom-made aDNA capture methods will be employed in conjunction with massive parallel sequencing methods (secondment at the Center for GeoGenetics at the Copenhagen University, supervised by dr. Morten Allentoft). The position’s primary supervisors (at UG) are dr. Canan Çakırlar (GIA) and prof. Per Palsbøll (GELIFES).

Project framework: This project is part of SeaChanges, a Marie Skłodowska Curie international doctoral training network (ITN) integrating the fields of marine biology, archaeology and history through 15 fully-funded, salaried PhD studentships across seven institutions in six countries (the Universities of Cambridge, York, Vigo, Bologna, Copenhagen, Oslo, and Groningen).
The ITN offers state-of-the-art training to a new generation of outstanding young researchers. Marine environments are, and have long been, crucial to European economics, identity, and food security. The need for long-term perspectives to inform marine management is evident. SeaChanges will train a cohort of inter-disciplinary scientists who will merge zooarchaeology, historical ecology, palaeogenetics, imaging techniques, isotope biogeochemistry to understand threshold moments and enduring processes in past human-marine vertebrate interactions.

Applicants may be of any nationality, but must not have resided, or worked, in the Netherlands for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to recruitment. Applicants should also be within the first four years (full-time equivalent) of the start of their research careers—measured from the date they obtained the degree formally entitling them to begin a doctorate. Applicants must have a master’s degree or equivalent education, and should not have a PhD.


University of Groningen


Required qualifications:
• a master's degree in archaeology or biology
• excellent command of English and academic writing
• basic molecular laboratory skills (e.g., DNA extraction, PCR and NGS library preparation)
• DNA sequence data analysis.

Desired qualifications:
• ancient DNA and clean lab experience
• population genetic theory and analysis
• NGS workflow (experimental and bioinformatics)
• stable isotope analyses
• strong affinity with Mediterranean archaeology and/or marine ecosystems.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 36 months.

We offer you in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:
- a salary at €2,325 (gross) per month during the first year increasing to € 2,835 (gross) per month during the third year based on full-time [1.0 FTE] employment
- in addition, you are entitled to a holiday and an end-of-the-year allowance at 8% and 8.3%, respectively, of the gross annual salary.

The appointment is initially for 12 months to be extended with two additional years contingent upon a satisfactory assessment of the candidate’s performance after nine months. A PhD training programme is part of the agreement and the successful candidate will be enrolled in the Graduate School of the Faculty of Science and Engineering. The conditions of employment are available at the University of Groningen website under Human Resources:

The start date of the appointment is 1 October 2019.

Submission procedure
Please submit your entire application (in English) as a single PDF-file by 16 June 11.59 p.m./ before 17 June 2019 Dutch local time (CEST) by means of the application form (click on 'Apply' below on the advertisement on the university website). Please upload your entire application as "Letter of Motivation attachment".

Do you meet our qualification criteria? If yes, your application should include:
1. a cover letter introducing yourself, describing your motivation to conduct the described scientific research, and your interests in relation to the SeaChanges ITN
2. a full CV demonstrating academic excellence, including publications and presentations (if applicable)
3. a certified copy or scan of your MA diploma (or equivalent) and transcripts
4. a research proposal, focusing on the central research question(s) outlined in the project description above, i.e., which questions to address and the research method(s) to apply in order to answer the central research question(s) (1000 - 1500 words).
See the guidelines in the following website:
5. names and contact details of two academic references.

For questions regarding the submission procedure, please contact Drs. M.R.B. Wubbolts by email:

We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our University. We are committed to building a diverse faculty so you are encouraged to apply. Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP), and European Commission's European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers,

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.


Faculty of Arts

Through dynamic teaching and innovative, award-winning research, the University of Groningen (UG) (est. 1614) has gained an international reputation as one of the best research universities in Europe. PhD students at the UG benefit not only from world-class facilities and supervision, but also from institutional alliances with prestigious partner universities and research networks around the world.

The position will be affiliated with the Groningen Institute of Archaeology (GIA) and Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences (GELIFES). GIA is a leading international research institute within the UG’s Faculty of Arts with a strong inter-disciplinary research programme in bioarchaeology, facilitated by world-class reference collections, technical staff, and the affiliated Center for Isotope Research (CIO). GELIFES is the largest institute in Faculty of Science and Engineering, and fills a special niche in the life sciences by covering and integrating mechanistic, evolutionary and ecological approaches, aiming to understand adaptation at all levels of biological organisation.


  • PhD
  • Language and culture
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • max. €2835 per month
  • University graduate
  • 219322


University of Groningen

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