27.09.2020 - 17:57
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Marie-Curie Early Stage Researcher position in Palaeoproteomics

Marie-Curie Early Stage Researcher position in Palaeoproteomics

The Department of Human Evolution at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig (Germany), invites Early Stage Researchers to apply for a PhD position that is part of the European training Network “PUSHH: Palaeoproteomics to Unleash Studies on Human History”, funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme (grant agreement No 861389). More information on the network and its international partners can be found on the website:

In the Department of Human Evolution, palaeoanthropological research is conducted within a multidisciplinary environment involving biological anthropologists, Palaeolithic archaeologists, archaeological scientists, and geochronologists. More information about the Department can be found on our website. The ESR position builds on existing expertise within the department on the analysis of ancient proteomics to address questions of relevance in palaeoanthropology and archaeology. In particular, we are looking for highly motivated applicants with an interest in combining palaeoanthropology, archaeological sciences, and zooarchaeology.

Job description

As part of the PUSHH network, ESR7 will work on developing and applying a novel proteomic approach to identify the biological species of archaeological bone fragments. Palaeoanthropology utilizes peptide mass fingerprinting to screen sample sets encompassing thousands of bone chips from caves known to be occupied by anatomically modern humans, Neanderthals and Denisovans to identify hominin remains and further characterise them through deep palaeogenomic sequencing. Despite being cheap and robust, peptide mass fingerprinting has some clear limitations, because it commonly uses MALDI-TOF-MS instruments that are less sensitive and have lower resolution compared to what is now the state-of-the-art proteomics technology, i.e. Orbitrap (commercialised by partner organisation Thermo). Furthermore, peptide mass fingerprinting data interpretation is still manual and as such tedious and error- prone. ESR7 will apply the same approach based on data-independent acquisition (DIA) tandem MS and the ultra-fast peptide separation technology (~8 mins/run), developed by partner organisation EvoSEP, to screen bone proteomes at low cost with Orbitrap technology. The advantages over peptide mass fingerprinting will be represented by the acquisition of a much richer dataset per sample, higher sensitivity, higher automation, and the ability to use off-the-shelf spectral identification software. As a result, the ESR will acquire advanced laboratory, proteomics, and bioinformatics skills during the duration of the project. Part of this research will be accomplished by a secondment to the Centre for Protein Research, Olsen group, University of Copenhagen (Denmark).

The ESR will have a significant amount of freedom in designing the research project within the scope of the PUSHH network and the high-throughput screening of archaeological bone proteomes, supervised by Prof. Hublin and Dr. Welker. The position commences on the 1st of September for 36 months (full time).

Your key tasks will consist of:

- Sample selection and ancient protein extraction;
- Protein data analysis, including quantification of damage and assigning taxonomic species 
- Acquire in-depth knowledge of DIA mass spectrometry data acquisition and associated 
- Integration of palaeproteomic data with existing chronological, environmental, and zooarchaeological datasets for the analyzed archaeological assemblages.

You will be expected to complete a PhD thesis within the duration of the position.

Due to the composition of the PUSHH network, there are significant opportunities for further training and knowledge-exchange with other network members. This includes mandatory network-wide activities that might take place outside of Europe. Your work will result in scientific articles and/or book chapters in collaboration with other PUSHH ESRs and supervisors, and, whenever possible, opportunities will be sought to communicate your research to a broad audience. The research is expected to be compliant with the highest scientific standards, as set out in the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity.

Qualifications profile

- Completed university degree (Ma/MSc) in archaeology, anthropology, or related disciplines. A
  background in the archaeological sciences, particularly peptide mass fingerprinting or
  proteomics, or zooarchaeology is highly desirable.
- Ability to work collaboratively and independently in relation to multi-disciplinary research 
- Experience with bioinformatics and molecular/evolutionary biology is preferable.
- Proficiency in English.


To be eligible to apply for this role you must, on the 1st of September 2020, be in the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of your research career and have not been awarded a doctoral degree.

In accordance with the applying mobility rule for European Training Networks, you must, on the 1st of September 2020, not have resided or carried out your main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Germany for more than 12 months in the preceding 3 years.

The Max Planck Society is committed to employing more physically impaired individuals and to increasing the share of women in areas where they are underrepresented, and therefore expressly encourages applications from such qualified individuals.

For further information, please contact Prof. Jean-Jacques Hublin (hublin@[>>> Please remove the text! <<<]eva.mpg.de) and/or Dr. Frido Welker (frido_welker@[>>> Please remove the text! <<<]eva.mpg.de)

How to Apply

Applications should be submitted by sending the following documents to Dr. Frido Welker (frido_welker@[>>> Please remove the text! <<<]eva.mpg.de):
-a cover letter (1 page)
-curriculum vitae
-reprints of selected publications or a written university thesis
-a short statement of research interests
-the names of two referees.

Please hand in these documents before June 14th and notify Frido by email (frido_welker@[>>> Please remove the text! <<<]eva.mpg.de). Interviews are expected to be scheduled in July 2020.

The Max Planck Society is committed to equal opportunities and to employing individuals with disabilities and explicitly encourages them to apply.

We look forward to receiving your completed application.

We look forward to receiving your completed application at https://www.eva.mpg.de/ career .

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Further information on the research agenda of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology is available on our website : www.eva.mpg.de.

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