22 May, 2013
Professional Development (CPD)
PostDoc & PhD Jobs
Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in New Zealand/Australia: DNA from Ancient Soils
Dept of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Waikato
15 January 2011
application date has expired
In the range NZ$63,327 to $70,326 per year, depending on skills /experience
Prof David Lowe or Prof Alan Cooper
We are actively seeking a postdoctoral researcher to investigate ancient DNA (aDNA) and its mobility in tephra-derived soils and paleosols, and to study its reliability/utility in the reconstruction of past environments. This project “DNA from ancient soils” has been funded by the NZ Marsden Fund for a fixed-term of three years from February 2011.
Applications are sought from candidates experienced in molecular biology and aDNA analysis, with a strong background in computational and infomatics skills. Some experience in soil chemistry/mineralogy/microbiology would be an advantage. The work will be performed in both New Zealand (with Prof David Lowe, Earth Sciences, University of Waikato) and Australia (Prof Alan Cooper, Australian Centre for Ancient DNA [ACAD], University of Adelaide).
The successful applicant will have been awarded his/her PhD at the time of taking up the appointment, and will have successfully published papers from his/her doctoral research.
Enquiries of an academic nature can be directed to Professor David Lowe, email:
Enquiries of an academic nature can also be directed to Professor Alan Cooper, email:
For more information and to apply, visit
Vacancy number: 300356
Closing date: 15 January 2011
Background to project
The North Island of New Zealand has huge stores of buried soils (paleosols) developed on sequences of precisely-dated volcanic-ash layers (tephras). This unique series of dated paleosols provides a valuable paleobiological laboratory for ancient-DNA (aDNA) analysis of past populations and environments. Our aim is to recover past genetic records from stratigraphic successions of paleosols formed on tephras of known age in order to evaluate the potential of aDNA to provide reconstructions of environmental and climatic change over the past ~25,000 years. We hypothesise that aDNA (along with organic carbon) is preserved by its association with the nanomineral allophane that forms via weathering on well-drained tephras. We will use a range of analytical tools to examine where and how organic carbon/aDNA is held on allophane (and other clays) in tephra-derived soils, and establish how it is protected (complementary PhD project with Dr Jock Churchman, Univ of Adelaide). Secondly, we will determine the extent of DNA mobility in different tephra-derived soils and paleosols using genetic markers. We aim to combine a unique New Zealand resource with a novel cross-disciplinary approach to reveal the reliability and utility of DNA to reconstruct past environments.
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