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PhD fellow on Palaeoproteomics for cultural heritage – Protein Paint Binders in Polychromy

Section of Evolutionary Genomics at the Natural History Museum of Denmark
Faculty of Science
University of Copenhagen

The Natural History Museum of Denmark (Copenhagen) is offering a PhD scholarship in the Cappellini Palaeoproteomics Group as part of the Marie Curie TEMPERA European Training Network commencing September 1st, 2017 or as soon as possible thereafter.

The position is part of the Marie Curie TEMPERA European Training Network (ETN) supported by the European Union's EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020,

TEMPERA ETN aims at providing international and interdisciplinary state-of-the-art doctoral training to prepare the next generation of specialists in mass spectrometry (MS)-based ancient protein residues analysis for biomolecular diagnostics and conservation of cultural heritage material. Europe’s cultural heritage plays a fundamental role in European cultural integration and attracts millions of visitors each year. Most of the cultural heritage objects produced using biogenic materials are rich in protein residues. Proteomic analysis of cultural heritage will improve knowledge about production techniques and chemical preservation of cultural heritage materials, ultimately improving their safeguard and conservation. For the first time, TEMPERA brings together in a network the laboratories which have, largely in isolation, developed the techniques upon which ancient protein analysis is built.

Project description
The research project aims at understanding the composition of proteinaceous paint binders in sculpted materials and architectural decorations, leading to a better understanding and perception of the original appearance of painted objects. More specifically, tandem MS-based ancient protein sequencing will be used to confidently identify the biological species of origin and the raw materials used as binders for the polychrome decoration of ancient sculptures and architecture. This knowledge will be fundamental to plan long-term conservation and restoration, to define optimal conservation and display conditions, as well as to prevent or reduce decay processes. During the project the candidate will develop extraction methods to improve recovery of protein residues from very limited quantities of deteriorated artistic and archaeological samples, for top-down and bottom-up proteomics methods, possibly using different fragmentation methods. Characterization of spontaneous post-translational modifications associated with the prolonged action of time and environmental factors will be another key component of the project. The project will require careful development of activities for public engagement as well as writing scientific articles, papers, reports or books, as appropriate. The selected PhD candidate will also be required to attend network-wide workshop events and take active part to network-wide remote activities.

The Palaeoproteomics Group at the Natural History Museum of Denmark (SNM), University of Copenhagen, is a major international player in Palaeoproteomics analysis, aiming at pushing the boundaries of ancient proteins investigation, from a wide range of archaeological and paleontological sources. The Palaeoproteomics group is part of the Evolutionary Genomics (EvoGenomics) section at SNM. With its nine 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 Palaeoproteomics group has established a solid collaboration with the Mass Spectrometry for Quantitative Proteomics group lead by Prof. Jesper V. Olsen (also part of the TEMPERA network) 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. The Palaeoproteomics group also collaborates with the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, which is an international museum with large collections consisting of works of art and artefacts from the beginning of history in Mesopotamia, Egypt of the pharaohs, ancient Greece, Etruria and the Roman Empire – around the entire Mediterranean, as well as French and Danish art of the 19th century.


Essential Experience and Skills

We look for candidates with demonstrated deep learning and analytical approach to their studies. Other requirements are: dedication, strong motivation, curiosity, passion, interest in learning and applying new skills, equally comfortable at working as part of a team and achieving assigned tasks autonomously, attention for details, inclination to provide and receive constructive feed-back, ability to keep control under pressure, and a positive and friendly attitude. You will be expected to closely interact with other PhD candidates and supervisors within the TEMPERA ETN network and with other members of the local and international scientific community. Essential skills and experience also include:

• Excellent, demonstrated knowledge of protein biochemistry and
  understanding of processes of protein degradation, both spontaneous
  and enzymatic
• Excellent knowledge of, and demonstrated experience in designing,
  implementing, and optimizing: (i) analytical methods for protein
  characterization, (ii) biochemical methodologies for sample
  preparation for proteomics analysis
• Demonstrated experience in high-resolution tandem MS-based
  proteomics data generation and analysis.
• Demonstrated experience in interpretation and analysis of MS/MS
  data, protein sequence reconstruction and statistical validation of the
• Ability to comfortably work in a highly interdisciplinary environment
  with colleagues with different scientific backgrounds

Experience in detection and identification of protein residues from cultural heritage by proteomics is a valued plus. Knowledge of use and conservation of proteinaceous materials in art and archaeology is a valued plus. Demonstrated experience in development and delivery of public outreach initiatives is a valued plus.

Desired Experience and Skills

• Experience bioinformatic manipulation and statistical analysis of large
  molecular datasets
• Command line informatics skills on Unix systems
• As UCPH and TEMPERA are highly international research
  environments, good communication skills in written and oral English
  is required
• Integrity, motivation, and good collaboration skills


TEMPERA is a Marie Curie European Training Network. PhD candidates within the TEMPERA ETN program are expected to fulfil the conditions for international mobility. Namely, researchers are required to undertake trans-national mobility (i.e., move from one country to another) when taking up the appointment. At the time of recruitment by the University of Copenhagen, researchers must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Denmark for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to their recruitment. Short stays, such as holidays, are not taken into account. The applicant must also fulfil the criteria of an Early Stage Researcher. Specifically, at time of recruitment the researcher must be in the first 4 years (full-time equivalent research experience) of his/her research career and must not have been awarded a doctoral degree.

Supervisor is Associate Professor Enrico Cappellini, The Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen. Email;

Formal requirements
We seek candidates with a relevant academic background qualifying for enrolment in the 5+3 programme (3 year PhD programme). Good English language skills are necessary. As criteria for the assessment of the candidate’s qualifications, emphasis will also be laid on previous publications (if any), grade-point average, relevant work experience, and other professional activities.

Terms of employment
The position is covered by the Memorandum on Job Structure for Academic Staff.

Terms of appointment and payment accord to the agreement between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State.

The salary and conditions of employment for this position is highly attractive, even compared to the ordinary Danish PhD salary: DKK 309,109. The employment conditions will be compliant with the regulations applied at the University of Copenhagen and the rules of the European Commission’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie European Training Networks.

Application Procedure
The application, in English, must be submitted electronically by clicking APPLY NOW below.

Please include
• Cover Letter
• CV including publication list
• Diploma and transcripts of records (BSc and MSc)
• Full contact details (Name, address, telephone & email) of 1-3
  professional referees
• Documentation of English language qualifications, cf. general rules
  and guidelines, p. 5

The University wishes our staff to reflect the diversity of society and thus welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background.

The deadline for applications is April 30, 2017, 23:59 GMT +1. Applications received after the deadline for applications will not be considered. Interviews will be held in week 20.

After the expiry of the deadline for applications, the authorized recruitment manager selects applicants for assessment on the advice of the Interview Committee. Afterwards an assessment committee will be appointed to evaluate the selected applications. The applicants will be notified of the composition of the committee and the final selection of a successful candidate will be made by the Head of Department, based on the recommendations of the assessment committee and the interview committee.
The main criterion for selection will be the research potential of the applicant and the above mentioned skills. The successful candidate will then be requested to formally apply for enrolment as a PhD student at the PhD school of Science. You can read more about the recruitment process at

General information about PhD programmes at SCIENCE is available at 


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: 30-04-2017
Employment type: Limited period
Employment start: 01-09-2017
Department/Location: Natural History Museum of Denmark

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