Postdoctoral Fellow to work on the project ‘Evolution of vertebrate skeleton growth, remodelling, bone repair and medical implications’


We are looking for a postdoc to work on the project ‘Evolution of vertebrate skeleton growth, remodelling, bone repair and medical implications’.

Postdoctoral Fellow to work on the project ‘Evolution of vertebrate skeleton growth, remodelling, bone repair and medical implications’, for 20 hours a week.



Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden is the Dutch national research institute for biodiversity and systematics. With our collection of 43 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 and their postdocs and PhD-students. The current position will be in the research group ‘Vertebrate Evolution, Development and Ecology’, led by Martin Rücklin. Naturalis has a completely new lab building, including state-of-the-art molecular facilities, microCT scanners and electron microscopy (SEM and TEM).





In the Rücklin lab at Naturalis we work on the evolution of the skeleton in a range of vertebrates from first jawed vertebrates to hominids. The lab is a part of the Vertebrate Evolution, Development and Ecology group with Martin Rücklin as head of the department. In the group we work on an even larger range of vertebrates including dinosaurs, snakes and mammals and additional topics as island and venom evolution and earth evolution in deep time and deep earth and gemstones.

The postdoctoral position is exploring possibilities to use results of mainly synchrotron and microCT based palaeohistological data informing about the evolution, development, growth and repair of the skeleton and its implications for medical sciences. Therefore we are using fossil and recent data mainly of early vertebrates and collaborate with labs working in the medical area. The long term goal is to understand the first jawed vertebrate skeletons, to replay the evolution of tissues and to improve medical applications.

This Postdoctoral researcher will interact closely with Martin Rücklin. 

The main tasks:

  • Proof of concept palaeohistological research on (early) vertebrate growth and repair mechanisms using microCT, synchrotron tomography and traditional palaeohistological thin sections and polished sections for SEM. Evolution of the vertebrate skeleton.
  • Identifying the main topics and importance for medical research and relevance of the fossil record (e.g., osteoarthritis, osteoporosis). 
  • Collaborating with a possible consortium for an interdisciplinary project on cartilage calcification, bone growth and bone repair.
  • Preparing grant applications. 
  • Co-supervision of student projects as proof-of-concept studies.

General requirements
and skills

The candidate must have a PhD degree in a relevant field (for example palaeobiology or biology) with a strong interest in vertebrate palaeohistology. The candidate has experience with MicroCT and Synchrotron tomography and 3D visualizations and is open to apply the knowledge also in collaboration with medical research groups.

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. Teaching experience is an advantage and prior experience with supervision of student projects is desired. Experience in grant proposal writing is beneficial.



A contract (20 hours per week) for a period of one year and a monthly starting salary of at least € 1,871.- gross per month based on 20 hours/week (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 1st 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 PhD candidates. 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 Martin Rücklin 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 April 4, 12:00 CET.

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

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