University of Copenhagen (UCPH)

UCPH and other universities - Marie Skłodowska-Curie European Training Network

University of Copenhagen and various universities - Marie Skłodowska-Curie European Training Network

Copehagen, Denmark

The newly established European Training Network (ETN), entitled: “PUSHH: Palaeoproteomics to Unleash the Study of Human History”, recruits Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) for 14 PhD positions hosted by universities and enterprises in 7 European countries. The network is funded by the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020 under Grant Agreement No. 861389. Calls for applications will be open from February-March 2020 and enrolment will start no later than September 2020.

Protein traces survive in fossils longer than ancient DNA (aDNA). Consequently, palaeoproteomics, i.e. mass spectrometry (MS)-based sequencing of ancient proteins, is currently the only approach enabling molecular-based reconstruction of human, and hominoid, evolution beyond the limits of aDNA preservation. Ancient proteins can also be recovered from cultural heritage objects, helping to understand how they were made.

Presently, there are very few specialists that have been trained to analyse ancient proteins, in stark contrast to the study of aDNA. The growing demand of information provided by palaeoproteomics will require highly qualified specialists with a multidisciplinary background in analytical chemistry, bioinformatics, palaeoanthropology, palaeontology and archaeology.

PUSHH will provide state-of-the-art doctoral training for 14 ESRs to shape the next generation of scientists that will use palaeoproteomics to advance knowledge about biological and cultural evolution of humans. By being part of a coherent training environment empowering interdisciplinary knowledge, PUSHH ESRs will acquire the threshold concepts enabling them to develop original solutions supporting their future discoveries.

The 14 ESR research projects fall within two research lines. The first research line (9 PhD positions) focuses on APPLICATIONS of palaeoproteomics to palaeoanthropology, and archaeology. The second research line (5 PhD positions) focuses on the development of new palaeoproteomic TECHNOLOGIES defining the innovative methodological foundations that will support and enable the accomplishment of all the projects in the APPLICATIONS research line.

We are looking for 14 skilled and highly motivated applicants, with demonstrated deep-learning qualities and an analytical approach to their studies.

Available Positions
ESR1: Molecular-Based Phylogeny of Ancient Hominoids
Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Spain), supervisor: Tomas Marques-Bonet

ESR2: Molecular-Based Phylogeny of Oreopithecus bambolii
Università degli Studi di Firenze (Italy), supervisor: Lorenzo Rook

ESR3: Molecular-Based Phylogeny of Asian Miocene Primates
University of Copenhagen (Denmark), supervisors: Enrico Cappellini and Fabrice Demeter

ESR4: Molecular-Based Phylogeny of Homo erectus
Université Paris Descartes (France), supervisor: Anne-Marie Bacon

ESR5: Molecular-Based Phylogeny of the First Europeans
Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana (Spain), supervisor: María Martinón Torres

ESR6: Molecular-Based Phylogeny of Paranthropus robustus
University of Copenhagen (Denmark), supervisor: Enrico Cappellini

ESR7: Tandem MS-Based Bone Chip Species Identification
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Leipzig (Germany), supervisor: Jean Jacques Hublin

ESR8: Protein Residues in The First Evidence of Complex Modern Human Cognition
Universitetet i Bergen (Norway), supervisor: Christopher S. Henshilwood

ESR9: Assay for Collagen Damage in the Food Industry
Devro PLC (United Kingdom), supervisor: Gordon Paul

ESR10: Mass Spectrometry for Palaeoproteomics
Université de Bordeaux (France), supervisor: Caroline Tokarski

ESR11: Hardware for Palaeoproteomics 
University of Copenhagen (Denmark), supervisor: Jesper V. Olsen

ESR12: Computational Palaeoproteomics
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Munich (Germany), supervisor: Jürgen Cox

ESR13: Palaeoproteomics-Based Reconstruction of Deep Population History
University of Copenhagen (Denmark), supervisor: Fernando Racimo

ESR14: Amino Acid Racemisation-Based Chronology
University of York (United Kingdom), supervisor: Kirsty Penkman


  • Applicants must have a master’s degree or equivalent in a field relevant to the specific project (please see individual calls).

Moreover, successful applicants will be:

  • strongly committed and motivated
  • curious and interested in learning and applying new skills
  • willing to work both as part of a team and autonomously
  • attentive to details and able to work efficiently under pressure
  • willing to provide and receive constructive feedback

Eligibility criteria
To be eligible to apply for an ESR position in PUSHH, applicants must meet all of these criteria

  • Mobility rule: The researcher must not have resided or carried out his/her main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of his/her host organisation (or — in case of international European interest organisations — with this organisation) for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to his/her recruitment. Compulsory national service, short stays such as holidays, and time spent as part of a procedure for obtaining refugee status under the Geneva Convention are not taken into account.
  • Early Stage Researcher (ESR): The researcher must, at the date of recruitment by the host organisation, be in the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of his/her research career and have not been awarded a doctoral degree. Full-time equivalent research experience is measured from the date when the researcher obtained the first degree entitling him/her to embark on a doctorate (either in the country in which the degree was obtained or in the country in which the researcher is recruited), even if a doctorate was never started or envisaged.
  • English language: The researcher must be highly proficient in both written and spoken English, in order to benefit from and contribute to the training program.

We offer

  • an opportunity to carry out cutting-edge research in an international and collaborative environment;
  • a network-wide training program including workshops in research-specific and transferable skills, active participation in scientific events and secondment periods (i.e. research stays) at other institutions within the consortium;
  • access to state-of-the-art technologies, supervision by scientists leading their respective research fields, rich opportunities to build or consolidate an extended professional network, close interaction with enterprises and public non-academic institutions;
  • a full-time appointment for a period of 36 months;
  • a competitive and attractive salary, and working conditions in accordance with the MSCA regulations for ESRs, (see the Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2018-2020, in particular pages 92 and 94);
  • a mobility allowance and, where applicable, a family allowance (according to the definitions in the Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2018-2020, page 89) as part of the employment package.

We expect:

  • full professional commitment
  • active and motivated attendance at all the mandatory network-wide activities, which will take place in multiple locations in and outside Europe;
  • willingness to be relocated for a mandatory secondment period (usually of the duration of a few months) at another institution within the consortium. A secondment is a period of research training with another beneficiary or a partner organisation implemented to further enrich the training experience of a researcher.
  • readiness to take part in the research projects involving multiple institutions and ESRs within the network;
  • readiness to deliver scientific articles and book chapters in collaboration with other ESRs;
  • readiness to communicate your scientific activity to a broad audience (for example through public conferences, podcasts, and social media);
  • compliance with the highest standards of research integrity.

How to apply
The official calls to apply for the 14 PhD positions will be made available via the individual host institutions. Links to the local calls will also be posted on the PUSHH website as soon as the calls open. To stay updated about the PUSHH recruitment opportunities, you can:

Please apply via recruiter’s website.