PhD position (f/m): Planktonic foraminiferal shell thinning due to anthropogenic CO2 emissions?

For 1,0 fte
Vacancy number 1.2009.00337

The sub-department of Marine Biogeology, Institute of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, VU University Amsterdam, has a vacancy for a PhD studentship. This project is funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).

Research Project: Planktonic Foraminiferal Shell Thinning due to Anthropogenic CO2 Emissions?
About 50% of the carbon dioxide (CO2) mankind releases into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels is eventually taken up by the ocean. As CO2 invades the ocean, the seawater becomes less basic, a process termed ‘ocean acidification’. As a result, the pH and carbonate ion concentration [CO32-] of surface seawater, and subsequently of deep water, is lowered. Laboratory studies indicate that [CO32-] affects the calcification rates of marine calcifying organisms including corals, coccolithophores and foraminifera. This project tests the hypothesis, that at present ocean acidification is already influencing the production of biogenic carbonate in the surface ocean and is documented in the youngest part of the marine geological record, the surface sediments of the ocean floor.
The project is a detailed study of different species of planktonic foraminifera from high accumulation rate sediments in various regions and settings of the world ocean. Natural variability of shell mass will be quantified for the past 1000 years. The period of the Anthropocene, which started in the late 18th century when the activities of humans first began to have a significant global impact on the Earth’s climate and ecosystems, will be studied with highest possible resolution to quantify the anthropogenic effect on the calcification of planktonic foraminifera.This project is not part of but closely linked to the FP7 program EPOCA

The PhD student is expected to:

  • perform microscopic and laboratory work (weighing; analyzing stable isotopes) on planktonic foraminifera
  • contribute to tasks of the Marine Biogeology Section including for example assist in teaching and pr activities, and in some laboratory responsibilities;
  • to have an excellent motivation, and social skills;
  • to write manuscripts and a dissertation.

We are looking for a candidate (f/m) with a relevant university Masters degree (preferably in the fields of marine bio-geology). Experience in at least one of the fields of:

  1. marine ecology,
  2. marine chemistry,
  3. paleoclimatology

is expected.

Further particulars
The position (PhD Student) will be available at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Marine Biogeology Group. The appointment will be available initially for 12 months and will be extended with 36 months based on a full-time employment. The appointment should result in publications in international peer reviewed scientific journals and a dissertation.

The salary is € 2.042,- gross per month in the first year to € 2.612,- in the fourth year, based on a full-time employment. You can find information about our excellent fringe benefits of employment at

Additional information
More information on our institute can be found at Information on this particular position can be obtained from Dr. Gerald Ganssen (e-mail:, tel. +31 20 59 87369).

Written applications should include a curriculum vitae, names of two academics references, a copy of the MSc diploma and a motivation of interest in this specific position. Please mention the vacancy number in the e-mail header or at the top of your letter and on the envelope. Send your application before December 31st, 2009 to the VU University Amsterdam, Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, attn. Dr. J.M.R.M. Neutelings, Managing Director, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands. It is also possible to apply by
e-mail to:

Any other correspondence in response to this advertisement will not be dealt with.

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