PhD position in Caribbean Palaeoecology (f/m/d): Human-Fire-Vegetation Interactions

Doctoral Researcher

Job Code: GEA-DA-03

Job Offer from September 06, 2022

The Palaeoecology Research Group within the Department of Archaeology at the Max Planck Institute of Geoanthropology, Jena, Germany is pleased to announce a new vacancy for a doctoral student exploring human-environment interactions in the Caribbean. The position will be based in Jena, Germany for a period of 3 years with the option for extensions and supervised by Dr. Yoshi Maezumi. 

The Palaeoecology Research Group analyses palaeoecological and archaeobotanical proxies from sedimentary archives, including pollen, phytoliths, charcoal and stable isotopes to examine topics including the legacy of human land-use on ecosystems, spatio-temporal patterns of natural and human-driven fire activity, and the influence of natural and human disturbance regimes on the biogeographic distribution of plants and animals in past ecosystems.

Candidate tasks

The successful candidate will be expected to contribute to cross-disciplinary research on the influence of human-environment interactions in the Caribbean. Isolated Caribbean islands represent “natural laboratories” to examine past fire and vegetation dynamics prior to human occupation and through distinct changes in land use associated with Indigenous settlement, Colonial occupation, and later industrialization.

The successful candidate will help collect sediment cores from lakes and lagoons in close proximity to archaeological sites in the Caribbean. They will then analyze the resulting cores using palaeoecological approaches such as pollen, charcoal, and macrofossil analysis to reconstruct late Holocene vegetation and fire histories within the context of changes in human history and land use.

The candidate will work in a leading global center for archaeology and palaeoecology, the Department of Archaeology at the MPI-Geoanthropology, renowned for combining palaeoecological, archaeological, anthropological, geochemical, and palaeoenvironmental expertise in field and laboratory methodologies.

Candidate qualifications

The ideal applicant will have a strong background in palaeoecology, archaeology, physical geography, and/or environmental science. Other prerequisites include evidence of strong oral and written communication skills and promise to develop a strong publication record. Willingness to work as part of a team, travel to field sites in the Caribbean for extended periods of time, and the ability to complete tasks in a timely and structured fashion are also necessities.


  • Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Physical Geography, Environmental Science, Archaeology, Archaeological Science, Geochemistry, Earth Sciences, Soil Science or a similar discipline.
  • Practical and theoretical interest in working with palaeoecological proxies including pollen, charcoal, phytoliths, macrofossils.
  • Experience with microscope analysis.
  • Interest in Caribbean ecology and archaeology.


  • Field and laboratory experience in archaeology, palaeoecology or palaeoenvironmental science.
  • Experience working with archaeological, palaeontological, and palaeoenvironmental datasets.
  • Experience with statistical analysis, database management and GIS software.
  • Interest in scientific outreach.

We offer

  • Opportunities to learn new skills in the palaeoecological and archaeological sciences.
  • Support for field and laboratory research as well as conference presentations.
  • Access to cutting-edge facilities and equipment.
  • An excellent, friendly research environment.
  • Optimum conditions for PhD projects and custom-made preparation for the time thereafter, both with regard to academic and non-academic careers. An English language working environment.
  • Full funding for 3 years with the option for extensions.

The position offers a unique opportunity to develop cutting edge research in the city of Jena, which is renowned for its position at the intersection of research in the human and natural sciences. The Max Planck Society promotes these multidisciplinary connections and this position offers the candidate the possibility of making the most of such networks.

The position will begin on the 15th of January 2023 though some flexibility in start date is possible. Remuneration will follow the standard PhD salaries given in the Social Sciences Section of the Max Planck Gesellschaft. In addition, social benefits are offered as per the regulations of the German Civil Service.

The Max Planck Society is committed to employing more individuals with disabilities and especially encourages them to apply. We are also committed to encouraging diversity and actively challenging biases based on gender, nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion and other components of identity.

Please submit your application (which should include a cover letter, a CV of no more than 3 pages, list of publications and talks, and any relevant certificates) by September 30th 2022. You are also required to ask two referees to submit letters of recommendation, which are also due by September 30th 2022. Please submit your application and the identification number as a single pdf file in English to the address below. Referees should independently submit their letters as a pdf file to the same address by the same deadline.

Contact for more information:

Dr. Yoshi Maezumi

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