Paleonet: PhD position in palaeobotany available

Hans Kerp kerp at
Mon Aug 23 06:49:53 GMT 2010

  Studentship available within a Marie Curie Initial Training Network

*Plant Origins*

A Marie Curie Fellowship (Early Stage Researcher), leading to a doctoral 
degree, is available at the Institute fuer Geologie und Palaeontologie, 
University of Muenster, Germany as part of a Marie Curie ITN Network, in 
cooperation with Universities, Research Institutes and Industrial 
Partners in Oxford, London (UK), Prague (Czech Republic), Lisbon and 
Alcabideche (Portugal). The overarching and long term scientific 
question of PLANTORIGINS-ITN is: how did the major tissues and organ 
systems of plants evolve and what is their genetic regulatory basis? The 
three disciplines of plant morphology, phylogenetics and developmental 
genetics are of fundamental importance to addressing this question. 
Plant morphology documents basic aspects of organ and tissue systems, 
and because these (e.g., roots, epidermis, leaves, sporangia, 
gametangia, vascular system) evolved during the Palaeozoic, the fossil 
record provides crucial information on missing links that are absent in 
living species. Phylogenetics gives us the evolutionary framework within 
which key scientific questions are framed, linking modern and fossil 
forms and enabling the evolution of organs and tissues to be traced. 
Developmental genetics provides the tools to gain the mechanistic 
understanding that we seek. An integrated approach is essential to 
moving the field forward.

The Lower Devonian Rhynie Chert, which ranks among the world’s most 
famous fossil plant localities, has yielded a very rich fossil 
terrestrial biota, including anatomically preserved early land plants. 
Plants are preserved in amazing detail. Specific research topics based 
in Muenster will focus on (1) documenting the morphology of key organ 
systems and the life cycle of early extinct rhyniophytes, and (2) fully 
integrating these new data into the broader picture of plant evolution 
(Tree of Life) using modern phylogenetic methods. Specific training 
associated with this research plan offered by other institutions 
participating in PLANT ORIGINS ITN includes (1) phylogenetic analysis of 
fossil data and integration with living plants (sequence data and 
morphology), (2) characterisation of “rooting” systems morphology in 
/Physcomitrella/ with a view to characterisation of bryophyte “rooting” 
systems in the Rhynie Chert.

The Muenster institute houses the word’s largest collection of Rhynie 
Chert thin sections. The institute has excellent facilities for and over 
30 years of experience in Rhynie Chert research. Research includes 
making and studying thin sections. The ideal candidate should have a 
background in palaeobotany or plant anatomy. The applicant should have a 
good command of both written and spoken English.

The normal eligibility requirements of Marie Curie Fellowships apply. 
Researchers must be nationals of a EU country other than the country of 
the host organisation where they will carry out the project, and must 
not have resided in the country of their host organisation for more than 
12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to date of selection by the 
host institution. The applicant must also satisfy the requirements to 
register as a doctoral student in Muenster, which generally involves 
holding an appropriate Diploma or Masters degree. Marie Curie 
Fellowships have substantial benefits, both in salary and in mobility 
and family allowances. The duration of the Fellowship is 3 years.

Prospective applicants should contact:

Prof. Hans Kerp either by e-mail (kerp at or telephone 
(+49 251 8323966) from whom further information can be obtained.

Mailing address:

Prof. Hans Kerp
Forschungsstelle für Paläobotanik am Institut für Geologie und Paläontologie
Hindenburgplatz 57
418143 Münster

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