Thursday, July 20, 2017

Postdoctoral Researcher (Conodont Biomineralization), University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Erlangen, Germany

This posting is a bit late (sorry) but they may still be accepting applications.

Posting Date: 8 July 2017
Closing Date: 10 July 2017

Project context: Teeth consist of the hardest and damage-resistant tissues found in the biosphere and their structure has served as a model for the development of bio-inspired materials, conferring outstanding mechanical properties on them. Today’s marine ecosystems are a consequence of the appearance of vertebrate teeth, which stimulated the diversification of trophic networks and feeding adaptations. In the geological record, teeth are often the only preserved organism remains and their geochemical stability permits the reconstruction of palaeoclimate, lifespan, diet, and even health conditions of fossil organisms. The first functional teeth in Earth history are found in conodonts, an extinct group of marine vertebrates which developed diverse and often highly specialized morphological and ultrastructural adaptations of their dental skeleton. Conodonts developed unique growth mechanisms, including the ability to repair their teeth. Their ultrastructure can provide the key to the very early stages of biomineralization in vertebrates. Recently, it has been established that a common ultrastructural motif in today’s biominerals can be traced back to a common, nonclassical crystallization process which is highly preserved across phyla of biomineralizing organisms. This ultrastructural feature, i.e. a nanogranular composite structure, not only testifies a colloid-driven mineralization process. The nanogranular composite structure transforms the biomineral into a hybrid material, affecting various properties – such as strength, toughness and fracture behaviour – and bestowing a set of new functions – such as increased dissolution resistance or crack self-healing. The project will seek to develop quantitative methods of ultrastructural analysis of conodont tissues to reconstruct their growth process and test hypotheses on its evolutionary and ecological constraints.

Team: The PhD student will be co-supervised by: Dr. Emilia Jarochowska (Palaeobiology, GeoZentrum Nordbayern) and Prof. Stephan E. Wolf (junior professor for Biomimetic Materials and Processing, Department of Materials Science and Engineering), who will provide expertise in biomaterial crystallisation and training in methods of ultrastructural and crystallographic analysis. The project will be supported by Dr. Michel Bestmann (Structural Geology, GeoZentrum Nordbayern), an expert in EBSD.

Requirements: The ideal candidate will have a graduate degree in Biology, Palaeontology, Palaeobiology, or Chemistry with experience in biomineralization. The project will require the candidate to perform systematic laboratory tasks with delicate microscopic specimens, therefore excellent documentation of work and manual agility will be required. Previous training in SEM and TEM, experience with embryology and/or histology will be desirable. The candidate should be able to start on the 1st October 2017. Knowledge of German is not required.

Conditions: The initial work contract will be for one year and extended for another two years depending on the progress of the project. In the first year, the salary will be awarded at the TV-L E13 50% level according to the German public service pay scale (ca. 1250€/month) and increased in subsequent years. The employee will receive standard pension and health care benefits, as well as access to free German courses and targeted funding opportunities of the University.

Please send applications to by 10th July 2017. The application should include:

transcript of university records
contact details of two references
personal statement explaining the research interests of the applicant

For further questions, please contact:
Dr. Emilia Jarochowska
Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg
GeoZentrum Nordbayern
Loewenichstr. 28, 91054 Erlangen, Germany
phone: +49 9131 85 22967

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