PhD Student

Last application date
Feb 11, 2022 00:00
WE11 - Department of Biology
Limited duration
Bachelor's and Master's degrees
Occupancy rate
Vacancy type
Research staff

Job description

A fully-funded 4-year PhD position over the broad themes of mammalian integumentary (primarily hair) coloration from a proximate and ultimate perspective is available in the Evolution and Optics of Nanostructures (EON) group at the University of Ghent, Belgium, and Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden, Netherlands.
The PhD student will enhance our understanding of the form-function relationships in melanin-based colors in extant mammals through collection of extensive data on melanosome morphology, chemistry, and hair color. They will use these data to address hypotheses about the relationships between morphology and color, and may use these data to reconstruct colors and color patterns of fossil mammals while addressing hypotheses about the diversification of melanosomes and melanin-based color. The student will likely learn and/or use electron and light microscopy, chemical analyses (Raman and mass spectrometry, etc.), spectrophotometry, phylogenetic and/or optical modeling. We encourage anyone with an interest in multidisciplinary research to apply, including those trained in fields outside biology. The position will be based in Ghent, but will involve some time at Naturalis and, if Covid allows, trips to China for collaboration with our palaeontologist colleagues. The student will be co-supervised by Dr. Matthew Shawkey (Ghent) and Dr. Liliana D'Alba (Naturalis).

Job profile

Open to all nationalities. A Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in any field of science (preferably Biology or Chemistry) is required, as is experience in, and enthusiasm for, scientific research.. The successful candidate will be able to work both independently and as part of a team. Proficiency with the English language (both written and spoken) is required, and familiarity with the Dutch language (or a willingness to learn) is advantageous.
You can see more about our research and group at

How to apply

Please contact Dr. Matthew Shawkey via email at or via the form below to express your interest. A formal application process will then follow. Deadline is Feb. 11, but we encourage you to make contact as soon as possible.