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Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Early Earth Evolution

Deadline: 10.06.2023

Universitetet i Oslo

The University of Oslo is Norway’s oldest and highest rated institution of research and education with 28 000 students and 7000 employees. Its broad range of academic disciplines and internationally esteemed research communities make UiO an important contributor to society.

The geosciences are the studies of the planet Earth and its comparative planetology; the atmosphere, the hydrosphere and cryosphere, the Earth's surface and its interior. The Department of Geosciences conducts research and teaching in most of the domains of geoscience; geology, geophysics, physical geography, geomatics, hydrology, meteorology and oceanography. The Department is the broadest geoscience research and education environment in Norway. The Department encompasses five sections; Meteorology and Oceanography, Geography and Hydrology, Geology and Geophysics, Physics of Geological Processes (Njord centre) and one Centre of Excellence CEED - Centre of Earth Evolution and Dynamics.

The Department aims to contribute to the new and important UN Sustainability Development Goals. The staff consists of 40 professors and associate professors, in addition to postdoctoral fellows, PhD students, researchers, technical- and administrative staff. Approximately number of employees are 240 at the Department.

Job description

Position as Postdoctoral Research Fellow available at the Department of Geosciences at the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, University of Oslo, Norway

Starting date before 01.10.2023. The appointment is a fulltime research position and is for a period of three years.

No one can be appointed for more than one Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the University of Oslo.

Applications are invited for a postdoctoral research position at the Center for Planetary Habitability (PHAB), a new Norwegian Center of Excellence (from July 2023), and organized as a section at the Department of Geosciences. Our Website is under construction, but PHAB’s main goal, based on detailed studies of Earth and our solar system, is to develop predictive models to identify habitable planets around other stars.

PHAB research activities comprise three interrelated research themes:

(1) Planets and Early Earth, (2) Modern Earth and (3) Exo-Earths. The postdoctoral position is linked to the ‘Planets and Early Earth’ theme, and we seek a motivated postdoctoral researcher to explore fundamental changes in the Early Earth System (chemically, thermally, physically, and/or tectonically). Water is life’s medium and probably arrived early during the Hadean accretion of meteoritic building blocks, forming reservoirs of dissolved hydrogen in the magma ocean(s). Subsequent volcanic degassing led to the generation of a secondary atmosphere and condensed water (freshwater, ice, oceans). The atmosphere’s evolution is of special interest, notably the quantity and type of greenhouse gases in the second atmosphere, and how these gasses may have saved us from from runaway cooling and permanent icehouse conditions when the Sun was much dimmer. The transition to the breathable air we enjoy today at about 2.4 Ga (Great Oxygenation Event) is also a prime topic, and notably whether the biosphere’s evolutionary innovation (oxygen) may have weakened the greenhouse effect and forcing run-away cooling and catastrophic climate change (Snowball Earth).

Environmental conditions for habitability are also linked to the tectonic regime (e.g., stagnant lid vs. squishy lid vs. plate tectonics vs. other modes) and the interlinked rock and volatile cycles of the life-forming elements (CHNOPS). Plate tectonics regulates interior temperatures and atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, and therefore also surface temperatures, but estimates for when plate tectonics started range from the Hadean (>4 Ga) to 700 Ma. Plate tectonics is probably vital for sustaining planetary habitability and an important PHAB topic is therefore to establish when early plate tectonics (warm shallow subduction) and modern plate tectonics (cold steep and deep subduction) might have emerged.

The postdoctoral researcher will work together with the international PHAB team, and a specific project plan will be discussed in collaboration with the successful candidate. The plan will promote a strategic career path, and all postdoctoral research fellows are required to submit a professional development plan no later than one month after commencement of the postdoctoral period.

Qualification requirements

The Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences has a strategic ambition to be among Europe’s leading communities for research, education and innovation. Candidates for these fellowships will be selected in accordance with this, and expected to be in the upper segment of their class with respect to academic credentials.

  • Applicants must hold a degree equivalent to a Norwegian doctoral degree in Geoscience (Geology or Geophysics). Doctoral dissertation must be submitted for evaluation by the closing date. Only applicants with an approved doctoral thesis and defense are eligible for appointment.
  • Applicants must have solid experience with systems important for the Early Earth (Atmosphere evolution, early Oceans, tectonic regimes and interior dynamics, and/or Snowball Earths and Tipping Points)
  • Fluent oral and written communication skills in English.

Experience with any of the following is desirable:

  • Climate models benchmarked by geological (including paleogeography and paleoenvironments) and geochemical/biogeochemical data.
  • Modelling of magma ocean degassing and formation of early Earth’s secondary atmosphere by ab initio calculations and machine-learning.
  • Thermal history models of mantle cooling vs. time (including the influence of water, plate tectonic parameterizations, radioactive heat generation and continental formation/insulation).
  • Models for the emergence of land, ocean volume change, and long-term water storage within Earth’s interior, and the early deep-water cycle.

Personal skills:

  • The candidate will work as part of a team and needs good communication and interpersonal skills
  • Ability to conduct high-quality independent and collaborative research
  • Self-motivation, creativity, genuine curiosity about the subject, work discipline, professional ethics, and ambition.

We offer

  • Salary NOK 575 400 – 657 300 per year depending on qualifications in position as Postdoctoral Research Fellow (position code 1352)
  • Attractive welfare benefits and a generous pension agreement
  • Professionally stimulating working environment
  • Vibrant international academic environment
  • Postdoctoral development programmes
  • Oslo’s family-friendly surroundings with their rich opportunities for culture and outdoor activities

How to apply

The application must include

  • Cover letter (statement of motivation, summarizing scientific work and research interest)
  • An Early Earth Research Plan (max 1 page)
  • CV (summarizing education, positions, research experience, administrative experience and other qualifying activity)
  • Copies of educational certificates, academic transcript of records
  • A complete list of publications and up to 5 academic works that the applicant wishes to be considered by the evaluation committee
  • Names and contact details of 2-3 references (name, relation to candidate, e-mail and telephone number)

The application with attachments must be delivered in our electronic recruiting system. Foreign applicants are advised to attach an explanation of their University's grading system. Please note that all documents should be in English (or a Scandinavian language).

In assessing the applications, special emphasis will be placed on the documented, academic qualifications as well as the candidates motivation and personal suitability. Interviews with the best qualified candidates will be arranged. It is expected that the successful candidate will be able to complete the project in the course of the period of employment.

Formal regulations

Please see the guidelines and regulations for appointments to Postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Oslo.

No one can be appointed for more than one Postdoctoral Fellow period at the University of Oslo.

No one can be appointed twice as a Postdoctoral fellow financed with funds from The Research Council of Norway (NFR).

According to the Norwegian Freedom of Information Act (Offentleglova) information about the applicant may be included in the public applicant list, also in cases where the applicant has requested non-disclosure.

If an applicant has applied for and been granted funding for a fulltime research stay abroad while being employed as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow, the employment will be prolonged with the equivalent time as the research stay, but for no longer than of twelve months (thus extending the employment to a maximum of four years)

Inclusion and diversity are a strength. The University of Oslo has a personnel policy objective of achieving a balanced gender composition. Furthermore, we want employees with diverse professional expertise, life experience and perspectives.

If there are qualified applicants with disabilities, employment gaps or immigrant background, we will invite at least one applicant from each of these categories to an interview.

Contact information

For information please contact:

For questions regarding Jobbnorge, please contact HR Adviser Ole Rustad, email: ole.rustad@mn.uio.no

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