PhD Fellowship in Palaeoproteomics

University of Copenhagen Globe Institute

PhD fellowship in Palaeoproteomics at the Globe Institute (Re-advertisement), Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen

We are offering a PhD fellowship in Palaeoproteomics in the Cappellini Palaeoproteomics Group, starting 1 October 2020 or as soon as possible thereafter.

The fellowship is part of the European Training Network “PUSHH: Palaeoproteomics to Unleash Studies on Human History”, funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No. 861389.


The PUSHH ETN builds on the recent exciting advances in palaeoproteomics, i.e. mass spectrometry-based ancient protein sequencing. PUSHH will develop new proteomic methods, optimised for ancient protein analysis, that will be applied to address outstanding evolutionary questions in human and hominoid evolution. Currently, there are very few specialists that have been trained to analyse ancient proteins, but the growing demand for information provided by palaeoproteomics will require highly qualified profiles with backgrounds in analytical chemistry, bioinformatics, palaeoanthropology and palaeontology. PUSHH will fill this advanced training gap by providing international, and intersectoral doctoral (PhD) training, for 14 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) in seven different EU countries. PUSHH will guide the ESRs to develop the advanced interdisciplinary competence they need to achieve seamless integration of palaeoproteomics with the established research approaches currently used in palaeoanthropology and archaeology.

Read more about the network at

Our group and research

The successful applicant will be part of the Cappellini Palaeoproteomics Group. The Cappellini Group is a

major international player in using palaeoproteomics to retrieve deep-time genetic information, usually older than 1 million years, and reconstruct the phylogeny of extinct animal species, in particular hominids, by sequencing protein remains from fossils. In the last few years, the research activity pursued in the Cappellini Group significantly contributed to expand the application of proteomics, an approach initially developed for conventional biomedical applications, to ancient protein traces retrieved from paleontological, paleoanthropological and cultural heritage materials. The Cappellini Group is part of the Section for Evolutionary Genomics at the Globe Institute. With its 11 research groups, EvoGenomics investigates broad reaching questions of cross-disciplinary interest, including the correlation between phylogeny, chemical biology/biological interactions and natural products. Since 2009, the Cappellini Group has established a solid collaboration with the Mass Spectrometry for Quantitative Proteomics group lead by Prof. Jesper V. Olsen at NovoNordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research (CPR) at the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen, placing University of Copenhagen at the forefront of ancient proteomics investigation.

Project description

Molecular-Based Phylogeny of Paranthropus robustus (ESR6)

In South Africa, the Plio-Pleistocene hominin fossil record is represented by a diversity of species within the genera Australopithecus, Paranthropus, and Homo. In some cases, species overlapped in time and space. The successful candidate for this position will extract ancient protein remains from Plio-Pleistocene hominin dental enamel specimens from South Africa. The candidate will then reconstruct dental enamel protein sequences and will compare them to the homologous ones from modern and extinct hominin species to infer the phylogenetic position of Paranthropus robustus, Australopithecus africanus, and potentially other species, in the hominin tree. Such an achievement will represent a breakthrough in biomolecular-based hominin phylogeny as both ancient DNA and ancient skeletal proteins are generally considered challenging to retrieve from the Early Pleistocene African hominin fossil record. Specimens will be made available, and data interpretation to reconstruct hominin relations will be conducted in collaboration with Professor Rebecca Ackermann (University of Cape Town, South Africa), an expert in the South African hominin fossil record.

Principal supervisor is Associate Professor Enrico Cappellini

Globe Institute,, +4535321338.

Start:    1 October 2020 or as soon as possible thereafter

Duration:           3 years (36 months) as a PhD student

Job description

Your key tasks as a PhD student at SUND are:

  • Carry through an independent research project under supervision
  • Complete PhD courses or other equivalent education corresponding to approx. 30 ECTS points
  • Participate in active research environments including a stay at another research team
  • Obtain experience with teaching or other types of dissemination related to your PhD project
  • Teach and disseminate your knowledge
  • Write a PhD thesis on the grounds of your project

In your role as ESR within the PUSHH project, you are also expected to:

  • Actively attend all the mandatory network wide PUSHH activities, which will take place in multiple locations in and outside Europe
  • Travel for a mandatory secondment period (research stay) at another institution within the PUSHH consortium.
  • Actively take part in the research projects involving multiple institutions and ESRs within the PUSHH network
  • Deliver scientific articles and/or book chapters in collaboration with other PUSHH ESRs and supervisors
  • Communicate your scientific activity to a broad audience, for example through outreach activities, public lectures, podcasts, and social media
  • Comply with the highest standards of research integrity, as set out in the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible for the fellowship, on 1 September 2020, you must:

  • have not resided or carried out your main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Denmark for more than 12 months since 1 September 2017. 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.
  • be in the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of your research career and have not been awarded a doctoral degree. Full-time equivalent research experience is measured from the date when you obtained the first degree entitling you to embark on a doctorate (either in the country in which the degree was obtained or in the country in which you are recruited), even if a doctorate was never started or envisaged.

Specific requirements

Applicants must have qualifications corresponding to a master’s degree related to the subject area of the project e.g. biochemistry, proteomics, molecular biology, evolutionary biology, biological anthropology, or similar discipline.

Key criteria for the assessment of applicants:

  • The grade point average achieved
  • Professional qualifications relevant to the PhD project
  • Previous publications
  • Relevant work experience
  • Other professional activities
  • Curious mind-set with demonstrated experience in mass spectrometry-based proteomics, or ancient biomolecules (DNA or proteins) data generation, analysis and interpretation, or computational proteomics
  • Demonstrated proficiency in both written and spoken English

Other important criteria for the assessment of applicants are:

  • Demonstrated experience in human evolution studies, phylogenetic inference and population genomics
  • Ability to write, with a high level of independence, scientific manuscripts, reporting the original results generated, for publication in the most prestigious peer-reviewed journals,
  • Ability to work both independently and as a team member in a highly interdisciplinary environment with colleagues with different scientific backgrounds.

Place of employment

The place of employment is at the Globe Institute, part of the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen. The Institute’s main purpose is to address basic scientific questions through interdisciplinary approaches. The institute operates at the intersection of natural and medical sciences and the humanities. The Globe Institute’s underlying philosophy is that resolution to complex problems stems from integration of multiple scientific approaches and interaction of diverse mindsets.

Terms of employment

The employment as PhD fellow is full time and for 3 years.

It is conditioned upon the applicant’s successful enrolment as a PhD student at the Graduate School at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. This requires submission and acceptance of an application for the specific project formulated by the applicant.

The PhD study must be completed in accordance with The Ministerial Order on the PhD programme (2013) and the Faculty’s rules on achieving the degree. Salary, pension and terms of employment are in accordance with the agreement between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State. Depending on seniority, the monthly salary begins around 27,593 DKK/approx. 3,695 EUR (April 2020-level) plus pension.


For specific information about the PhD fellowship, please contact:

 Associate Professor Enrico Cappellini,

General information about PhD study at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences is available at the Graduate School’s website:

Application procedure

Your application must be submitted electronically by clicking ‘Apply now’ below. The application must include the following documents in PDF format: 

1. Motivated letter of application (max. one page)

2. CV incl. education, experience, language skills and other skills relevant for the position

3. Master of Science diploma and transcript of records. If not completed, a certified/signed copy of a recent transcript of records or a written statement from the institution or supervisor will do

4. Publication list (if possible)

Application deadline: 20 July 2020, 23.59pm CET

We reserve the right not to consider material received after the deadline, and not to consider applications that do not live up to the abovementioned requirements.

The further process

After the expiry of the deadline for applications, the authorized recruitment manager selects applicants for assessment on the advice of the hiring committee. All applicants are then immediately notified whether their application has been passed for assessment by an unbiased assessor.

The assessor makes a non-prioritized assessment of the academic qualifications and experience with respect to the above-mentioned area of research, techniques, skills and other requirements listed in the advertisement.

Once the assessment work has been completed each applicant has the opportunity to comment on the part of the assessment that relates to the applicant him/herself.

You can read about the recruitment process at

The applicant will be assessed according to the Ministerial Order no. 242 of 13 March 2012 on the Appointment of Academic Staff at Universities.


Part of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), and among Europe’s top-ranking universities, the University of Copenhagen promotes research and teaching of the highest international standard. Rich in tradition and modern in outlook, the University gives students and staff the opportunity to cultivate their talent in an ambitious and informal environment. An effective organisation – with good working conditions and a collaborative work culture – creates the ideal framework for a successful academic career.


Enrico Cappellini


Application deadline: 20-07-2020
Employment start: 01-10-2020
Department/Location: Globe Institute