Postdoctoral Fellow to work on palaeohistology of island mammals


Naturalis is looking for a postdoc for the project 'extreme evolutionary body size changes in insular mammals– patterns and constraints'

Naturalis is looking for a Postdoctoral Fellow to work on palaeohistology of island mammals, 36 hours a week.



Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden is the Dutch national research institute for biodiversity and systematics. With our collection of 42 million specimens, one of the world's largest natural history collections, and our state-of-the-art research facilities we offer the (inter)national research infrastructure for species, identification and monitoring (for example in the ARISE and DiSSCo projects). We closely collaborate with many Dutch universities, research institutes, industry, and government. We host over 120 researchers including 14 academia embedded professors and 50 PhD students. We present the history of our planet, and the diversity of life on Earth, through permanent and temporary museum exhibitions, educational programmes, and online presence, with more than 400,000 visitors per year. All in all, a unique combination of science and culture in the Netherlands and elsewhere in the world!

The research department is organised in 8 research groups comprising researchers, postdocs and PhD-students. The current position will be in the research group ‘Vertebrate Evolution, Development and Ecology’, led by Dr. Martin Rücklin. Naturalis has a completely new lab building, including state-of-the-art molecular facilities, microCT scanners and electron microscopy (SEM and TEM).





As a Postdoc, you will be part of the project Extreme evolutionary body size changes in insular mammals– patterns and constraints. Size-related evolutionary changes often involve restructuring of organs and shifts in physiology. To gain a holistic understanding of the impact of size on shape and function in mammals, the project aims to quantify and integrate size-related changes in island species over millions of years. 

Using palaeohistology, you will perform analyses of histomorphology and histomorphometrics on palaeo-insular species with extreme size shifts. Based on these data, you will infer longevity, speed of maturation, growth aspects and bone metabolic rate and correlate these with intrinsic and extrinsic variables. You will use the in-house geolab for sample preparation following standard palaeohistology techniques. You will co-supervise a MSc student internship with the results being part of the project.

This Postdoc position is made possible by NWO. The Postdoc will be supervised by Dr. Alexandra van der Geer. 


General requirements
and skills

The candidate must have a PhD degree in a relevant field (for example biology, (bio-)medical research, or vertebrate palaeontology) with a strong interest in hard tissue histology. Preferably the candidate is used to work with natural history collections and has experience with producing thin sections of geological material.

Excellent knowledge of the English language (written and verbal) is essential, as well as a scientific and critical attitude, outstanding time management and organisational skills, and the ability to work independently as well as collaboratively within the project consortium and the Naturalis research group. The candidate should have good communication skills and be enthusiastic to contribute to knowledge dissemination and outreach activities within the project. Prior experience with supervision of student projects is an advantage



A contract (36 hours per week) for a period of one year, and a monthly starting salary of at least € 3.368,-- gross per month based on full time employment (depending on relevant experience). You also get an allowance for travel expenses, holiday allowance (8%) and year-end bonus (3.4%). The starting date is May 1, 2023 at the earliest. The successful candidate will be employed by Naturalis in Leiden. Naturalis Biodiversity Center offers an inspiring working atmosphere with effective and efficient supervision of our postdocs. Our Research Coordination Office also provides ample support to our scientific staff. Our institute promotes gender equality and wants to enhance the diversity of staff members. Feel free to contact Alexandra van der Geer with questions about the position: For procedural questions related to the application please contact HR:



Applicants are invited to submit their application in one pdf, including a cover/motivation letter (max. 2 pages) and CV (max. 3 pages) and the names and contact details of two referees. Please use this form for your application no later than March 8, 12:00 CET.

Naturalis endorses the Diversity Code. In the case of equal suitability, preference is given to the candidate who reinforces diversity within the team.

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