January 31, 2020

Post-doctoral position at the Early Life traces and Evolution-Astrobiology labororatory (University of Liège)

In the frame of the FNRS project “Life in Archean coastal environments” and the ICDP project BASE “Barberton Archean Surface Environments”, we are looking for a postdoctoral researcher with experience and interest in:

  • Astrobiology, Geobiology and Paleobiology (traces of life, microfossils, microbial mats)
  • Analyses of organics and minerals using light and electron microscopy (TEM), and Raman and FTIR micro-spectroscopy
  • Fieldwork and/or drill core sampling
  • In-situ analyses of C and N stable isotopes
  • Analyses using SR-XRF and SR-XANES

The project aims to characterize the past morphological and geochemical traces of early life preserved in fresh pristine cores drilled in the 3.2 Ga Moodies Group, Barberton Greenstone Belt, South Africa, the oldest best preserved siliciclastic succession preserving coastal sediments, from marine to terrestrial environments. The expected outcomes include a better understanding of early Earth habitability and evolution of the early microbial biosphere in coastal siliciclastic ecosystems, as well as a refinement of biogenicity criteria and fossilization (taphonomic) processes. This approach is also relevant to refine strategies for the detection of possible fossil life traces on early Mars during the ESA EXOMARS 2020 mission, which will use similar instruments in a siliciclastic setting on Mars (Oxia planum, with 4 Ga bedded clay-rich sediments in channels and plain), but also for the future NASA Mars 2020 sample return mission that will allow geochemical analyzes on Earth in clean labs.

Candidates should have a PhD degree in sciences, preferably in geosciences, biology and/or analytical chemistry. The ideal candidates will show scientific curiosity, ability to work in collaboration, and interests in early life evolution and astrobiology. The working language is English. The fellowship is competitive and allows comfortable living in Belgium. The fellowship will be exempted from taxes but subject to the employee social security. The researcher will be based in the laboratory Early Life traces and Evolution-Astrobiology at the University of Liège (promotor Prof E Javaux), and will also work in collaboration with the Laboratoire G-Time at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (co-promotor Prof V Debaille) and with the international teams of the ICDP BASE project. Appointment is for 1 year, renewable up to 2 times (3 years in total) depending on results and progress. The researcher in “international mobility” shall not have resided or carried out his/her main activity (job, studies…) in Belgium for more than 24 months during the last 3 years directly before the first stay as a Postdoctoral fellow. The first hiring period shall start at the latest exactly 6 years after obtaining the academic degree of doctor, after defense of a PhD thesis. The maximum period of time mentioned above is extended for one additional year per childbirth and/or adoption occurring after obtaining the PhD.

To apply, send your CV with a motivation letter in English, clearly indicating which of the skills above you have to offer (plus 2 potential referees) to the promotor of the project Emmanuelle Javaux (ej.javaux[at]uliege.be), before March 15th 2020. The position starts in July 2020 but the starting date can be adapted.