Postdoc Paleoecology & Climatology - KITLV-KNAW - Leiden

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    Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW)
    Agricultural sciences
    Recognised Researcher (R2)
    02/09/2021 23:59 - Europe/Brussels
    Netherlands › Leiden


Project Description
Driven by the increasing public awareness of the impact of hurricanes and the devastation of coastal areas, Island(er)s at the Helm will contribute to equipping (Dutch) Caribbean societies with proficient tools for confronting these challenging climatic phenomena. Such adverse events have significant ecological, social, and cultural implications, affecting the basic living conditions (water, food, shelter-nexus/WFS-nexus) and heritage of the island inhabitants. This research builds on the principle that local-specific practices and ontologies of Caribbean societies are crucial for promoting sustainable WFS-nexus solutions. The project brings together researchers and societal partners to employ a mixture of technical, traditional, and contemporary knowledge practices for studying climate change adaptation through a long-term perspective. Five inter-related work packages studying the WFS-nexus of the island(er)s will adopt a transdisciplinary research design including: archaeology, paleoecology, (paleo)ethnobotany, social-cultural anthropology, visual arts, performance arts, political science, urban design, urban planning, governance and policy sciences, legal studies, architecture, and civil engineering. 

Island(er)s at the Helm is financed by the NWO Caribbean Research programme. The host institute for this project is the Royal Netherlands Institute for Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV/KNAW), in collaboration with the University of Sint Martin. This position consists of a dual appointment at the KITLV and the University of Utrecht. 

Job Description
The Island(er)s at the Helm project is looking for a Postdoctoral candidate in Paleoecology & Climatology, in the work package “Resilient past communities and traditional knowledge practices”. 

This work package aims to understand social adaptation to climate challenges in the past to enrich and innovate the current knowledge-practices of island(er)s. 

The team will study the precolonial and colonial histories of the island(er)s, by combining paleo-environmental and archaeological records to understand how people in the (Dutch) Caribbean islands adapted to climate challenges in the past. 

In-depth research of (ethno-)historical sources and ethnographic research into traditional knowledge practices will be collected to understand the ways people, during the pre-colonial and colonial periods, built resilience in terms of water and food management and how they construct(ed) their houses to protect themselves from extreme weather events. This information will significantly contribute to the set of traditional knowledge practices necessary to develop sustainable solutions for social adaptation to climate challenges. 

The postdoc will carry out paleo-ecological investigations (through analyses of sediment cores) in coastal and mangrove areas, which will provide records of past vegetation and coastal (marine) ecosystem changes that identify shifts in their health status and functioning through time (in relation to climate change and human habitation). 

The combined relation between environmental changes and density, type, and structure of archaeological sites will provide insights into temporal dynamics and resilience (i.e., time of return to pre-impact conditions or adaptations) of coastal ecosystems and associated resources vital for human survival.

The postdoc will be based at Utrecht University, but will work in continuous collaboration and interaction with the entire team at KITLV, and partners in the Caribbean region. 

More Information


KITLV is a KNAW institute. Appointment will be according to the terms of the Collective Labor Agreement of Dutch Universities (CAO Nederlandse Universiteiten). 

We offer a part time (0,5 fte) position (19 hours per week)  for four years starting in January 2022. 

Based on the university system of job classification [universitair systeem functieordenen, or UFO], the position is classified as job profile Post-doctoral Researcher [Onderzoeker 4]. 

The gross monthly salary will be based on experience and will be between  € 1.676 and € 1.809 (in accordance with salary scale 10, of the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities). 

KNAW offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3 %) and training and career development. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break. In case the applicant is not currently a resident of The Netherlands, the applicant is expected to move.

Selection process

To request the full Island(er)s at the Helm research proposal, please send:


  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • E-mail


  • CV
  • Preliminary Research Proposal following NWO template
  • Two letters of recommendation

Additional comments

For more information on this position please send an e-mail to applications@kitlv.nl

Diversity & Inclusion
The KNAW considers a working environment in which everyone feels welcome and appreciated of great importance. A working environment in which attention is paid to individual quality and where development opportunities are paramount. Together we strive for an inclusive culture in which we embrace differences. We would therefore like to invite candidates who want to contribute to this through their background and experience. In the event of equal suitability, preference will be given to the candidate who thus enhances diversity within the Academy. 

We will not respond to any supplier enquiries based on this job advertisement.

Web site for additional job details

Offer Requirements

Specific Requirements

  • The candidate holds a PhD in Earth Sciences, Physical Geography, Environmental Sciences, or closely related field.
  • The candidate has proven experience in paleoecology, palynology, and/or micropaleontology and has demonstrated the ability to work with multi-variable datasets, including sedimentary data and chronology building. 
  • Can demonstrate fieldwork experience and is able to join such campaigns. Ideally the candidate can demonstrate the ability to organize and lead fieldwork campaigns
  • Ability to work independently, as well as in collaboration with a diverse team of researchers and (non-)academic stakeholders and local communities;
  • An excellent command of the English language, both written and verbal, and structured writing skills in general;
  • Comprehension of Papiamento, Dutch, and Spanish, alongside Caribbean creole English; Haitian Kreyol is considered a plus.

Work location(s)
1 position(s) available at
Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV)
2311 BE
Reuvensplaats 2

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EURAXESS offer ID: 666539
Posting organisation offer ID: 302933


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