Zurich PhD position

Palaeontological Institute and Museum, University of Zurich

We invite applications for a PhD position:

Environmental influence on spore-pollen morphology during the Mesozoic

The four major episodes of high faunal turnover and extinction events in the Mesozoic are related to the emplacement of large igneous provinces: the Smithian–Spathian, the Triassic–Jurassic boundary, the Toarcian Oceanic Anoxic, and the Cenomanian–Turonian event. Associated environmental changes are partly comparable with modern manmade environmental hazards. The latter are known to affect the morphology of plant reproductive organs. However, the impact of volcanically induced environmental hazards such as SO2 emission or HF poisoning on plant ecosystems and especially on plants’ reproductive organs (spores and pollen) in Earth history is insufficiently explored. Based on available sample material, new sample collection during fieldwork in Germany and Austria, as well as modern comparative material, the successful candidate will investigate the morphological integrity of sporomorphs during these four critical time intervals in the Mesozoic in comparison with today’s ecological events.

Research approaches include (1) sampling in the field, (2) lab work (using HCl, HF, and HNO3 (3) extensive light microscopy and SEM analysis, (4) statistical evaluation and (5) literature research for actualistic comparisons. This PhD project is expected to evaluate the possibility to use fossil spore and pollen morphology as monitor for ancient environmental pollution.

Experience in soft rock geology and field work is desirable for the sampling part of this project. We search for a highly motivated candidate with a master degree in paleontology, geology or related topics, who will contribute to the ongoing success of our team. Other requirements are: proficiency in English, team work and social compatibility.

The salary is according to the guidelines of the Swiss National Science Foundation and University of Zurich, with funding guaranteed for 4 years.

Candidates are invited to send their letter of motivation, CV, contact details of two referees, and the abstract of their Master thesis in a single PDF document to elke.schneebeli@pim.uzh.ch


Elke Schneebeli

Paläontologisches Institut und Museum

Universität Zürich

Karl-Schmid-Strasse 4

CH-8006 Zurich



Deadline for application: February 1st, 2018.

© 2005-2017 International Organisation of Palaeobotany. Designed & Coded by A.R.T. Spencer. Hosted on: aws1.palass.org