Shaping European Research Leaders for Marine Sustainability (SEAS)


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Research possibilities for the MSCA SEAS postdoctoral research fellow in climate and early human development in coastal Southern Africa

The information on this page is a supplement to the complete advertisement of the position in the recruitment-portal Jobbnorge. Call deadline is January 15, 2024. The full advertisement of this position in Jobbnorge will be available from November 15, 2023 (official call opening), and linked from this web page. Up until official call opening there might be minor adjustments in the Guide for applicants and the templates needed for applying, and also on the content of the current page.


Key information 

One position

MSCA SEAS postdoctoral research fellow at Department of Earth Science

Jobbnorge title

MSCA SEAS postdoctoral research fellow in climate and early human development in coastal Southern Africa

Research area

Climate backdrop for early human behavioural evolution in Southern Africa during the African Middle Stone Age, using proxy-based reconstructions and/or modelling approaches


Professor Eystein Jansen


For an incoming candidate (see mobility rules)

Unit of employment

Department of Earth Science at University of Bergen

Group affiliation

Centre for Early Sapiens Behaviour 

Thematic area and contact

The successful candidate will be employed at the Department of Earth Science and included in the SapienCE Centre of Excellence on Early Sapiens Behaviour.

The position is dedicated to the following research area: Climate backdrop for early human behavioural evolution in Southern Africa during the African Middle Stone Age, using proxy-based reconstructions and /or modelling approaches.

The position is open to incoming candidates, see mobility rules.

Information about the Centre and research possibilities is available below.

For further details about the research and supervision possibilities please contact Professor Eystein Jansen. Upon contact Jansen will direct interested persons to relevant potential supervisors who will be able to offer advice towards the development of a research proposal.

Research possibilities and resources

Research environment in SapienCE
The Centre for Early Sapiens Behaviour (SapienCE) is a Centre of Excellence (CoE) established in 2017, funded by the Norwegian Research Council. The centre is built around a team of international scientists specialized in the fields of archaeology, cognitive science/neuroscience and climatology, led by Professor Christopher Stuart Henshilwood. The main objective is to understand the key emergence of modern human behaviour in Southern Africa after 120.000 years ago.

The research group
Climate scientists in SapienCE are also affiliated with the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research (BCCR) and comprise leading scientists working on climate simulations with global and regional climate and Earth System models and scientists working on proxy-based climate reconstructions of Southern African climates from marine sediment cores, speleothems and archaeological sites. The SapienCE Centre integrates climatic evidence with archaeological evidence and information from cognitive studies.

The Bjerknes Centre also offers multiple contacts in all fields of climate science and access to advanced research schools in the field.

Available infrastructure
The group has access to state-of-the-art global and regional models and high-perfomance computing resources, as well as modern laboratories for climate proxy studies including core scanning facilities (https://www.uib.no/en/earthlab) stable and radioactive isotopes, trace element analyses and various state-of-the-art inorganic and organic geochemistry facilities (e.g. https://www.uib.no/en/FARLAB).

Scientific opportunities – topical frame
SapienCE focuses on the emergence of cultural innovation in Homo sapiens populations of Southern Africa between 120,000-50,000 years ago. Homo populations started acquiring modern anatomical traits by ~300 000 years ago in Africa, but there is no evidence indicating that their behaviour was modern at the time. Current archaeological evidence, although limited, highlights the 120-50 ka interval as a period of accelerated human cognitive, technological and social development. The fundamental causes of this critical transformation remain, however, debated. One often-proposed mechanism is the need to adapt to changing environmental conditions.

Reconstructing and modelling the environment of the early human populations during the times of strong cultural innovations is a critical aspect of SapienCE. How did climate change have influenced human occupation, migration and subsistence strategies?

For proxy reconstructions, this may include reconstructing nearby oceanic and coastal marine environments, vegetation, climate parameters and their variability on seasonal,millennial- to orbital scales in the Southern African region and integrating these with the archaeological records and the modelling work. Available archives are marine sediment cores, marine fossils and other material found in the archeological deposits, and speleothems from nearby caves. A wide range of proxy methods are available, including state-of-the-art organic and inorganic geochemistry (e.g., clumped isotope thermometry). Modelling work may focus on regional climate modelling, ecocultural niche modelling, or agent-based modelling of human behavior and migration. The latter approaches offer the possibility to explore the relationship between the emergence of modern human behaviour and environmental factors.

Available supervision team
 Eystein Jansen (Main contact), Department of Earth Science University of Bergen (UIB)/NORCE/ SapienCE (Earth Sciences /Paleoclimatology), Margit Simon, Norwegian Research Centre: NORCE/SapienCE (paleoclimate/South African climate-human evolutionary linkages), Nele Meckler, (UIB)/ SapienCE (Earth Sciences /Paleoclimatology), Carin Andersson Dahl NORCE/SapienCE (Earth Sciences /Paleoclimatology), Francesco d´Errico, CNRS/University of Bordeaux, France, Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion, UIB/ SapienCE (Human Evolution, Anthropology, Eco-cultural niche modelling).

International linkages and collaborators
Ian Hall, Cardiff University (marine sediment cores); Alfredo Martinez-Garcia (organic biomarkers in speleothems);, Axel Timmermann, IBS Center for Climate Physics (ICCP), Pusan National University, Korea, (Paleoclimate and Agent-based modelling); William Banks, CNRS/University of Bordeaux, France, (Archaeology/Eco-cultural niche modelling)

The Bjerknes Centre offers in addition numerous linkages to the leading international paleoclimate groups.

See the full advertisement in Jobbnorge

The full advertisement in Jobbnorge will be available from November 15, 2023, until call deadline January 15, 2024.

Important general information

Please be aware

  • That until November 15, 2023 (official call opening) there might be minor adjustments in the Guide for applicants and the templates needed for applying.
  • That the application process is time-demanding and requires a close dialogue with name-given available faculty supervisor or contact who, close to the deadline, must sign a supervisor match declaration if an application is to be eligible.
  • That some fields of research, especially within sensitive technology areas, might be enforced by Norwegian and international regulations regarding Control of the Export of Strategic Goods, Services and Technology. Candidates who by assessment of the application and attachment are seen to conflict with the criteria in these regulations might be prohibited from recruitment to UiB.