Postdoctoral Research in Primate Evolution and Mass Digitization of Fossil Collections

Duration: Up to 2 yrs

Location: Year 1: Duke University (Durham, NC), Year 2: University of Florida Museum of Natural History (Gainesville, FL)

Description: This position is funded by a collaborative NSF grant to Duke University Department of Evolutionary Anthropology and University of Florida, Florida Museum of Natural History. For details see:

Degree requirements: PhD in geology, biology, or other relevant discipline in hand.

Skill requirements: The successful applicant should have experience in the following areas:
1) 3D Digital Data competency – the applicant should be familiar with microCT data formats and the software Imagej and Avizo (experience operating microCT, laser, and/or structured light scanners is a plus but not required).
2) Field experience – participation in paleontological field work in the US or abroad (experience actually planning/leading field work is a plus, but not required).
3) Use of fossils and comparative data to address questions about evolution and adaptation.

Responsibilities and expectations: The successful applicant will be called upon for diverse activities
1) Planning of Fieldwork – two summers (1.5-4 weeks each summer) of fieldwork in the Bridger Basin, Wyoming, to prospect for and collect notharctid primates and to map stratigraphy are scheduled in this project. The postdoc will coordinate the logistics of fieldwork.
2) Oversight of scanning and processing of new skeletal material of Bridger notharctines – Duke University has an industrial scale microCT scanner that is being used to digitize partially entombed skeletons of notharctine primates. The postdoc will be in charge of this process. The scan data must be archived and processed: the postdoc will oversee workstudy students and a technician who will do most of this work.
3) The traveling to museums and between institutions to acquire, return, or transfer specimens. This project collaborates with a number of museums: specimens from their collections must be transported to Duke and returned by hand-carry. While scanning is happening at Duke, additional physical preparation, when necessary will happen at the Florida Museum of Natural History. Therefore specimens scanned at Duke will sometimes need to be carried to Florida.
4) Oversight of migration of scan data on to the MorphoSource ( digital image archive and coordination of these efforts with iDigBio national initiative for comprehensive collection digitization.
5) Present at conferences and publish papers reporting results of research on new the fossil material using an extensive digital comparative dataset available to the PI’s.

Opportunities: This project presents the opportunity to become fully trained and experienced in execution of a state-of-the-art paleontology and comparative morphology research project. After serving in this position the successful applicant will have a unique set of skills that ideally prepare him/her for making contributions in the most lasting and impactful way possible: one that assimilates all data generated by their projects into the digitally archived, immanently accessible ‘virtual’ museum collections. Furthermore, visiting museums, working with faculty at both Duke and Florida will give the successful applicant broad exposure and personal familiarity with many preeminent scholars, which is likely to catalyze additional collaborations and career opportunities. Finally, first access to a comprehensive digital sample of early Eocene euprimate specimens provides unique opportunity for the successful candidate to conduct novel research with high potential for transformative insights into early primate evolution.

How to Apply: Interested candidates should provide a cover letter explaining their interest and qualifications, their CV and a list of three references with contact information to Contact Doug Boyer ( or Jonathan Bloch ( for further details.
Application deadline/start date: Applications will be accepted until the position is filled. Preferred start date is Spring 2015 (i.e. ASAP).