University of Cambridge

Job Opportunities


Post-doctoral Research Associate - Alternate stable biospheres - modelling the microbial to metazoan transition

We are looking for a postdoc to work on exciting multidisciplinary project linking ecosystem modelling to one of the most fundamental transitions in Earth and evolutionary history. This project is funded by the new Cambridge Leverhulme Centre of Life in the Universe. The position is based at the Department of Zoology, within the Deep Time Ecology group, in collaboration with Prof Nick Butterfield, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge.

The successful candidate will assemble a comprehensive database of ecological 'guilds' and environmental feedback effects through the pre-Ediacaran to Cambrian transition, based on the palaeontological, geochemical and stratigraphic record. They will then construct multi-dimensional model networks for each of the six eco-evolutionary stages we have delineated through the microbial-metazoan transition. These models will then be used to calculate global biomass, metabolic rates, and degrees of motility across the microbial-metazoan transition, comparing with the empirical record. These models will finally be used to investigate the macroevolutionary dynamics associated with the transition, with a focus on the differing modes of ecosystem 'stability.' Experience of ecological network models is required. No prior knowledge of palaeobiology is needed, and quantitative ecologists are encouraged to apply.

There will be opportunities for limited supervision/instruction to classes.

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available to start between April and October 2023 for up to 24 months.

Interviews will be held the week starting 27th March 2023.

Applications are welcome from internal candidates who would like to apply for the role on the basis of a secondment from their current role in the University.

Flexible working requests would be considered.

We particularly welcome applications from women and candidates from a BME background for this vacancy as they are currently under-represented at this level in our University.

Click the 'Apply' button below to register an account with our recruitment system (if you have not already) and apply online.

If you have any queries regarding the application process please contact Anastasia Nezhentseva at (

Please quote reference PF34957 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

The University actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion and encourages applications from all sections of society.

The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.

Further information

Apply online