Senior Scientist

Vienna (Landbezirke) (AT)
22 Nov 2021
End of advertisement period
07 Dec 2021
Academic Discipline
Life sciences, Biological Sciences
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Senior scientist at the University of Vienna, Department of Evolutionary Anthropology (Reference number 12500)

The University of Vienna (20 faculties and centres, 179 fields of study, approx. 10.000 members of staff, about 90.000 students) seeks to fill the position as soon as possible of a

Senior Scientist at the Department of Evolutionary Anthropology.

The Department of Evolutionary Anthropology seeks to appoint a Senior Scientist in the field of Archaeological Science with expertise in chronometric dating using radiocarbon, in particular the radiocarbon dating of bone, but also charcoal, shell and other carbonaceous samples. The successful candidate should ideally have experience in the dating of single compounds (amino acids from bone collagen) using HPLC approaches, particularly with reference to samples of Palaeolithic age (material more than ~12-15,000 years old) from a methodological and applied point of view. The successful applicant will be part of a leading international team of researchers working across the fields of Human Evolution, Ancient DNA, Proteomics and Archaeological Science reporting to, and working with, Professor Tom Higham. The candidate will also participate in collaborative research projects and teaching courses in evolutionary anthropology.

 Accurate radiocarbon measurement is crucial for archaeologists and prehistorians, but post-depositional contamination has the potential to skew the results, unless removed. One of the most important sample types in archaeology is bone, but the effective removal of contaminants from bone collagen can be challenging. Ancient bones (>30-40,000 years) are particularly affected. An alternative to the purification of bulk collagen samples is to isolate hydroxyproline, an amino acid found almost uniquely at significant abundance in collagen. Work has shown that, by isolating hydroxyproline using preparative high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and using this single amino acid for a direct radiocarbon date, it is possible to remove contamination. Although hydroxyproline does exist in nature outside of mammalian collagen, it is rare. A date on hydroxyproline from a bone is a demonstrably contaminant-free measurement.

We seek a Senior Scientist to work at newly developed laboratories in the University of Vienna’s Department of Evolutionary Anthropology on dating routine samples using established pretreatment methods, and also to apply these methods and single amino acid dating to Palaeolithic bones from across Eurasia. Ideally, the postholder will extend the methods currently used, develop new approaches and optimise them. We will be purchasing a new HPLC system and there is considerable opportunity for furthering other methodological and experimental techniques. The postholder will join a growing team of researchers, technician, doctoral students and administrators.

This full-time position is limited to six years. After this period, based on performance assessment, an extension is possible by mutual agreement.  

Reference number: 12500
Duration of employment: 6 year/s
Extent of Employment: 40 hours/week

Job grading in accordance with collective bargaining agreement: §48 VwGr. B1 lit. b (postdoc) with relevant work experience determining the assignment to a particular salary grade. At least EUR 3,945.90 gross per month, paid 14x / year.

Our offer:
Active participation in research, teaching and administration. This involves

  • Using specialist scientific equipment in a developing radiocarbon pretreatment laboratory;
  • Undertaking HPLC analysis of protein hydrolysates from archaeological bone protein samples for radiocarbon dating using HPLC methods;
  • Adapting existing and developing new scientific techniques and experimental protocols in accelerator mass spectrometry radiocarbon dating;
  • Contributing ideas for new research projects and lead third-party funding applications;
  • Collaborating with colleagues in the Department of Evolutionary Anthropology on a range of applied projects incorporating aspects of archaeological science, proteomics, genetics and dating;
  • Writing and preparing scientific reports and journal articles and occasionally presenting conference papers and posters;
  • Representing the group at external meetings/seminars, either with other members of the group or alone;
  • Acting as a source of information and advice to other members of the group on scientific protocols, data management and experimental techniques and being responsible for the training of new members of the group;
  • Where required, selecting suitable samples for AMS dating, taking the samples for dating from sites and museums;
  • Carrying out collaborative projects with colleagues in partner institutions, and research groups;
  • Independent teaching of courses as defined by the collective agreement;
  • Participation in evaluation measures and quality assurance.


  • Hold a relevant PhD/DPhil in archaeological science or chemistry, together with relevant experience;
  • Possess sufficient specialist knowledge in radiocarbon dating to work within established research programmes;
  • Have experience of applying and using single compound dating methods in radiocarbon, preferably bone amino acids and possess the required technical ability;
  • Experience using HPLC methods;
  • An ability to manage their own academic research and associated activities;
  • Have a strong record of producing scientific publications and presentations;
  • Evidence of an ability to obtain research funding and generate novel and interesting ideas;
  • Have excellent communication skills, including the ability to write for publications, present research proposals and results, and represent results to research group meetings;
  • Excellent written and verbal skills in English. Knowledge of German would be an advantage.

Desirable selection criteria:

  • Experience in establishing new radiocarbon facilities;
  • Experience of developing methods for improving radiocarbon dating methodologies;
  • Experience of actively collaborating in the development of research articles for publication;
  • Experience of databases and IT.

Application documents

  • Letter of motivation;
  • Academic curriculum vitae (including a list of publications, a list of courses and a list of talks given);
  • Description of research interests and research agenda / of the intended habilitation project (if applicable);
  • Contact details of people who could provide a letter of reference.

Applications including a letter of motivation (German or English) should be submitted via the Job Center to the University of Vienna ( no later than 07.12.2021, mentioning reference number 12500.

For further information please contact Higham, Thomas +43-1-4277-54740, Erben, Viktoria +43-1-4277-54754.

The University pursues a non-discriminatory employment policy and values equal opportunities, as well as diversity ( The University lays special emphasis on increasing the number of women in senior and in academic positions. Given equal qualifications, preference will be given to female applicants.