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Palaeoproteomics for Human Evolution

14 PhD positions within a Marie Skłodowska-Curie European Training Network on Palaeoproteomics for Human Evolution

The newly established European Training Network (ETN) “PUSHH: Palaeoproteomics to Unleash the Study of Human History" recruits Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) for 14 PhD positions hosted by universities and enterprises in 7 European countries. The network is funded by the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020 under Grant Agreement No. 861389.

Calls for applications will be open from February-March 2020 and enrolment will start no later than September 2020.

Protein traces survive in fossils longer than ancient DNA (aDNA). Consequently, palaeoproteomics, i.e. mass spectrometry (MS)-based sequencing of ancient proteins, is currently the only approach enabling molecular-based reconstruction of human, and hominoid, evolution beyond the limits of aDNA preservation. Ancient proteins can also be recovered from cultural heritage objects, helping to understand how they were made. Presently, there are very few specialists that have been trained to analyse ancient proteins, in stark contrast to the study of aDNA. The growing demand of information provided by palaeoproteomics will require highly qualified specialists with a multidisciplinary background in analytical chemistry, bioinformatics, palaeoanthropology, palaeontology and archaeology.

PUSHH will provide state-of-the-art doctoral training for 14 ESRs to shape the next generation of scientists that will use palaeoproteomics to advance knowledge about biological and cultural evolution of humans. By being part of a coherent training environment empowering interdisciplinary knowledge, PUSHH ESRs will acquire the threshold concepts enabling them to develop original solutions supporting their future discoveries.

The 14 ESR research projects fall within two research lines. The first research line focuses on APPLICATIONS of palaeoproteomics to palaeoanthropology, and archaeology. The second research line focuses on the development of new palaeoproteomic TECHNOLOGIES defining the innovative methodological foundations that will support and enable the accomplishment of all the projects in the APPLICATIONS research line.

We are looking for 14 skilled and highly motivated applicants, with demonstrated deep-learning qualities and an analytical approach to their studies.

Available Positions

ESR1: Molecular-Based Phylogeny of Ancient Hominoids
Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Spain), supervisor: Tomas Marques-Bonet

ESR2: Molecular-Based Phylogeny of Oreopithecus bambolii
Università degli Studi di Firenze (Italy), supervisor: Lorenzo Rook

ESR3: Molecular-Based Phylogeny of Asian Miocene Primates
University of Copenhagen (Denmark), supervisors: Enrico Cappellini and Fabrice Demeter

ESR4: Molecular-Based Phylogeny of Homo erectus
Université Paris Descartes (France), supervisor: Anne-Marie Bacon

ESR5: Molecular-Based Phylogeny of the First Europeans
Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana (Spain), supervisor: María Martinón Torres

ESR6: Molecular-Based Phylogeny of Paranthropus robustus
University of Copenhagen (Denmark), supervisor: Enrico Cappellini

ESR7: Tandem MS-Based Bone Chip Species Identification
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Leipzig (Germany), supervisor: Jean Jacques Hublin

ESR8: Protein Residues in The First Evidence of Complex Modern Human Cognition
Universitetet i Bergen (Norway), supervisor: Christopher S. Henshilwood

ESR9: Assay for Collagen Damage in the Food Industry
Devro PLC (United Kingdom), supervisor: Gordon Paul

ESR10: Mass Spectrometry for Palaeoproteomics
Université de Bordeaux (France), supervisor: Caroline Tokarski

ESR11: Hardware for Palaeoproteomics
University of Copenhagen (Denmark), supervisor: Jesper V. Olsen

ESR12: Computational Palaeoproteomics
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Munich (Germany), supervisor: Jürgen Cox

ESR13: Palaeoproteomics-Based Reconstruction of Deep Population History
University of Copenhagen (Denmark), supervisor: Fernando Racimo

ESR14: Amino Acid Racemisation-Based Chronology
University of York (United Kingdom), supervisor: Kirsty Penkman


  • Applicants must have a master’s degree or equivalent in a field relevant to the specific project.

Moreover, successful applicants will be:

  • strongly committed and motivated
  • curious and interested in learning and applying new skills
  • willing to work both as part of a team and autonomously
  • attentive to details and able to work efficiently under pressure
  • willing to provide and receive constructive feedback

Eligibility criteria

Applicants must meet all the eligibility criteria for Early Stage Researchers (ESRs). If you are interested in applying for a PhD position in PUSHH, please check the eligibility criteria and other requirements on the PUSHH website.

Benefits and salary

  • a network-wide training program, which includes a variety of workshops in research-specific and transferable skills, active participation in scientific conferences, secondment periods, and close interaction with enterprises and museums
  • a full-time appointment for a period of 36 months
  • a competitive and attractive salary, and working conditions in accordance with the MSCA regulations for ESRs

How to apply

The official calls to apply for the 14 PhD positions will be made available via the individual host institutions. Links to the local calls will also be posted on the PUSHH website.

To stay updated about the recruitment opportunities, you can follow PUSHH on Twitter, visit the PUSHH website and join the PUSHH mailing list.

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