PhD Position in Paleoproteomics

The Department of Proteomics of the Laboratory of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology seeks to appoint a PhD candidate with an interest in palaeoproteomics and archeology and a background in biology or biochemistry/biotechnology. They will be part of a group of proteomics researchers with state-of-the-art expertise in mass spectrometry-based proteomics and apply this to ancient samples (medieval to Mesolithic period), under supervision of Dr. Maarten Dhaenens. The Paleoproteomics section will be established in the framework of an interdisciplinary GOA (Geconcentreerde Onderzoeksactie) together with the department of Archeology and Bioengineering.


The candidate will help establish a new palaeoproteomics section in the laboratory, following up on the forensic proteomics section that was initiated in 2020. The candidate will develop and apply improved methodologies for the extraction and analyses of ancient proteins from skeletal remains, dental calculus, pottery and lithic tools. Specifically, this relates to the identification of ancient proteins applying the latest generation methodologies in Liquid Chromatography – Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) acquisition and machine learning-based data analysis for a plethora of applications: the taxonomic determination and evolutionary/phylogenetic analyses of skeletal proteomes, the detection of food remains in calculus or pottery, detection of pathogens in injured bone, plant and animal remains on lithic tools, etc. The work will initially focus on abundantly available medieval material for method optimization with the final goal of applying these optimized protocols to Mesolithic remains from the Meuse valley in Belgium (>10.000 years old). Insights will be shared with the forensic proteomics section to also generate contemporary applicability. The candidate is expected to master the full workflow in time, including in-depth protocol knowledge, basic LC-MS/MS acquisition skills and user-based data analysis capabilities and interpretation. For the latter, a solid collaboration with different bioinformatics groups will assure adequate backup and the development of dedicated data analysis tools. Data interpretation will be done in close collaboration with the department of Archeology as well as with Bioengineering for isotopic dating.


The position would suit someone who has a background in biology or biochemistry with an interest in both animal and plant taxonomy and the biomolecular aspects of human evolution and adaptations. Direct experience in the field of modern proteomics and strong laboratory-based and data-mining skills as well as experience in application of proteomics to anthropological and archaeological samples are desirable.

Duration of employment: This position is limited to four years, i.e. the duration of a PhD, starting January 2022 or soon after.


We expect the candidate to:

  • Assist in establishing the palaeoproteomics laboratory in the brand new MS Core Facility ProGenTomics at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences (FFW), led by Dr. S. Daled, Dr. M. Dhaenens and Prof. Dieter Deforce.
  • Adapt existing and developing new scientific techniques and experimental protocols in palaeoprotemics;
  • Use specialist scientific equipment such as LC-QTOF MS instruments (mainly Sciex and Waters);
  • Collaborate with colleagues in the fields of Anthropology, Archeology and Isotope research on a range of applied projects incorporating aspects of archaeological science, proteomics, genetics and dating;
  • Contribute ideas for new research projects;
  • Assist in teaching practical courses;
  • Write and prepare scientific reports and journal articles and occasionally presenting conference papers and posters.


Profile:

Essential:

  • Relevant master in biology or biochemistry (or archaeological science), preferably with direct laboratory-based experience;
  • Ability to manage their own academic research and associated activities;
  • Ability to generate novel and interesting ideas;
  • Good communication skills
  • Excellent written and verbal skills in English.

Desirable:

  • Experience of working in a proteomics laboratory
  • Experience of applying biochemical analyses to archaeological specimens in
  • Knowledge of Dutch and/or French

Application documents

  • Motivation letter including how the candidate meets the profile criteria;
  • Academic curriculum vitae (including a list of publications, a list of courses and a list of talks given);
  • Contact details for three references familiar with your academic work.

Applications and questions (Dutch or English) can be submitted to maarten.dhaenens@ugent.be or at +32 9264 8356.

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