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Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Mercury Marine Biogeochemistry
Vrije Universiteit | Brussels, Belgium | Deadline: 1 May 2019

The Analytical, Environmental and Geochemistry (AMGC) at Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) invites applications for a Post-doctoral Fellowship position. It is a fixed term position (May 2019-April 2022) and has a potential to be prolonged for 1 more year within the framework of Flanders (Belgium) - Slovenia bilateral project “BE MERMAiD” (BioavailablE MERcury Methylation in the ADriatic sea).

The project investigates transformation of inorganic mercury (Hg) to methylmercury (MeHg) in the open sea water. However, the details of water column methylation are elusive; in particular the chemical identity of the bioavailable environmental Hg fraction remains largely unknown. The Belgian part of the project will focus on Hg bioavailability using Diffusive Gradients in Thin-films (DGT) technique. Combining laboratory and field experiments, the focus will be on controls over complexation, abundance and transformation of Hg bioavailable species, eventually identifying methylation-bioavailable marine Hg fraction. In combination with stable isotope analysis of Hg bioavailable species by Slovenian partners, the project also aims to provide the first information on Hg stable isotope fractionation in the open sea bioavailable species. Samples will be collected with DGTs in the Gulf of Trieste and onboard an autonomous submarine in the south Adriatic Sea.

What we offer:

AMGC is leading laboratory in the field of DGT theory and practical methodology, with decades of experience and available support to freely and autonomously develop DGT research. It has access to clean room, several mass spectrometers, laser ablation, as well as sampling equipment for waters and sediments. For Hg speciation analysis are available AMA254, PSA Merlin system, sector-field ICP-MS and head-space coupled to GC-AFS. A unique autonomous glider (SeaExplorer) adapted for trace metal work is available at the AMGC for DGT deployment in open sea. Besides the analytical capacity, AMGC and VUB are a vibrant international community in Brussels, offering many opportunities for professional and personal development.

What we look for:

The ideal candidate would have a doctoral degree in analytical chemistry or marine environmental sciences, as well as experiences in passive sampling techniques and/or mercury speciation analysis. Candidates with practical experiences at sea are strongly encouraged to apply. Previous international experiences are advantageous, but not required, although very good written and spoken English is necessary. We are looking for a motivated young scientist, who is able to develop their own research ideas and takes active part in transdisciplinary teams. We expect the candidate to publish scientific papers and present project outcomes at international conferences. The candidate must also have a high degree of mobility with frequent trips to the sampling area.

Candidates are invited to submit their motivation letter and CV, detailing their scientific outputs, to the email address below. Two recommendation letters should be sent under separate cover to the same email address: yue.gao@vub.be and mleermak@vub.be before March 31st 2019. The ideal starting date is 1 May 2019.

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