Postdoctoral Researcher

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Job Description

The Natural History Museum (NHM) is a world-class visitor attraction and leading science research centre and commercial event space.  We use our unique collections and unrivalled expertise to tackle the biggest challenges facing the world today.  We care for more than 80 million specimens, both in our London and Tring museums, spanning billions of years and welcome more than five million visitors annually.

We are at a pivotal moment in our history, as we launch a new strategy setting out our role as the natural world faces increasing threats.  Building on our world-leading collection, global reputation for science and as one of the world’s leading visitor attractions, the NHM has ambitious plans leading up to its 150th anniversary in 2031 making this a truly exciting time to be part of the NHM team.

This is an exciting opportunity for an outstanding early career researcher to take up an important role in a world-renowned institution with a unique scientific mission and public profile. The successful applicant will join a large science group composed of approximately 300 scientists, in an institution that houses some of the largest, most significant scientific collections in the world. The Museum also offers the opportunity to communicate science to huge national and international audiences.

The successful candidate will conduct research as part of a multi-institutional team working on a three-year, Leverhulme-funded project investigating how specialisation to marine environments affects macroevolutionary patterns in toothed whales (odontocetes) and seals and sealions (pinnipeds). We aim to investigate diversification rates, body size evolution, and species responses to extrinsic factors, such as ocean restructuring and global change.

The role of the postdoc is somewhat flexible based on the interests of the successful candidate. They will be involved in macroevolutionary analyses and collating data on geological proxies for ocean change, but may also be involved in data collection from specimens in the collections, building total evidence phylogenies etc. depending on their interests and skills. Taxon-specific expertise is not a requirement as long as the candidate is excited by the questions. We also hope the successful candidate will help expand the project into new directions as appropriate.

The team is led by Natalie Cooper (NHM) and includes Erich Fitzgerald (Museums Victoria), Graham Slater (University of Chicago), and a second postdoc (Travis Park). Work will primarily be based at the NHM, with opportunities to visit other collections. There will be opportunities to present the results of this work at international meetings; and it is expected that the successful candidate will take a leading role in preparing the results for publication and communicating them to the public.

We are committed to diversity, equality and inclusion, and we strongly encourage diverse candidates to apply. Please contact Natalie Cooper ( if you have any questions.

About you

The successful candidate will hold a PhD in a relevant discipline (e.g. evolution, ecology, palaeontology), and have experience with macroevolutionary analyses in R (or equivalent).

You will have proven ability to publish high quality papers in international peer-reviewed journals and can work both in a team and independently.  Experience of working with Git, GitHub and other computational tools, work involving museum specimens, and public outreach experience are also desirable. See Job Description for more details.

34 months fixed term contract

Interviews will be held on 4 August 2020

How to apply

If that sounds like you please apply online on our careers portal and provide:

  • A comprehensive curriculum vitae giving details of relevant achievements in recent posts as well as your education and professional qualifications.
  • A covering letter that summarises your interest in this post, providing evidence of your ability to match the criteria outlined in the person specification
  • Please ensure your letter includes details of your latest salary and notice period.