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Research Fellow - School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences - 98181- Grade 7

University of Birmingham
United Kingdom
£31,406 to £40,927
Closing date
Sep 20, 2021

View more

Science, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Geography
Jobseeker Type
Academic (e.g. 'Lecturer')
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Job Details

Position Details

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Location: University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham UK

Full time starting salary is normally in the range £31,406 to £40,927, with potential progression once in post to £43,434

Grade 7

Full Time/FTC until October 2024

Closing date: 7th October 2021


A postdoctoral research assistant position modelling feeding in extinct jawless fish is now available based within the palaeobiology research group in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences (PIs Ivan Sansom, Sam Giles and Stephan Lautenschlager, together with Zerina Johanson at the Natural History Museum). The successful applicant will be employed for three years to work as part of a team funded by a Leverhulme Research Project Grant that will focus on the feeding mechanisms and behaviour of ostracoderms (in particular heterostracans), a fossil group of jawless fish that dominated the middle Palaeozoic vertebrate record and are considered a key stepping stone on the way to the appearance of fish with jaws.

We will undertake CT scanning and 3D reconstruction of heterostracan fossils to reveal their anatomy and integration of feeding structures in these organisms. A revised phylogenetic treatment of the heterostracans, incorporating new data derived from the reconstructions, will allow us to establish morphological modes for feeding in these jawless fish. We will use established Bayesian phylogenetic methods (e.g. Markov chain Monte Carlo using ancThresh in the R package phytools) to reconstruct ancestral states and test hypotheses for the origins of these feeding modes in their environmental context.

The successful applicant will be responsible for all aspects of the project under the supervision of the project leaders and will assist the PIs in managing a research team. They will be expected to lead on scientific publications and present at conferences, as well as promote the project at various outreach events at the University of Birmingham and outside the University as the opportunity arises. Further duties may involve co-supervision of undergraduate student projects, contributions to undergraduate teaching, and contributing to the training and mentoring of doctoral researchers and research assistants. Funding will be available for the researcher to attend both national and international conferences.

Summary of Role
  • To undertake the collection, analysis and interpretation of research data within the scope of the specified research project.
  • To publish results of this research project in leading journals and disseminate results at conferences and workshops and to the public.
  • To contribute to supervision, training and mentoring of undergraduate students, doctoral researchers, and research assistants working within the specified research project.

Main Duties and Responsibilities
  • CT Data acquisition
  • Reconstruction of 3D models of feeding apparatuses (Mimics/Avizo and Blender)
  • Reconstructing macroevolutionary patterns for feeding apparatuses (phytools)
  • Contribute to the management of the research project
  • Lead and contribute to research publications
  • Present results at scientific conferences
  • Travel to work with collaborators in North America and Europe, visit museum collections and arrange specimen loans
  • Develop research objectives and proposals for own or joint research, with assistance of a mentor if required
  • Contribute to writing bids for research funding
  • Analyse and interpret data
  • Apply knowledge in a way which develops new intellectual understanding
  • Disseminate research findings for publication, research seminars etc.
  • Supervise students on research related work and provide guidance on PhD students where appropriate to the discipline
  • Contribute to developing new models, techniques and methods
  • Undertake management/administration arising from research
  • Contribute to Departmental/School research-related activities and research related administration
  • Contribute to enterprise, business development and/or public engagement activities of manifest benefit to the College and the University, often under supervision of a project leader

Person Specification

  • PhD, vertebrate palaeobiology or related field, submitted by the time of starting this position.
  • Experience with R
  • Experience in CT data acquisition and 3D reconstruction (using Mimics, Avizo, Blender or similar software)
  • Ability to work independently, but also as part of a team
  • Demonstrated ability to complete a research project(s)
  • Track record of publications in international peer-reviewed journals
  • Established communication skills; experience in presenting research at conferences

  • Knowledge of early vertebrate anatomy and phylogenetic relationships
  • Experience in geometric morphometric analyses, including landmarking 3D models
  • Experience in phylogenetic comparative methods and macroevolutionary analyses (evolutionary rates, disparity)
  • Experience or familiarity with palaeoenvironmental analyses
  • Experience in presenting research results to the public
  • Knowledge of the protected characteristics of the Equality Act 2010, and how to actively ensure in day to day activity in own area that those with protected characteristics are treated equally and fairly

Valuing excellence, sustaining investment

We value diversity and inclusion at the University of Birmingham and welcome applications from all sections of the community and are open to discussions around all forms of flexible working


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