Postdoctoral Fellow in Stable Isotope Studies

Trondheim, Norway
30 May 2023
End of advertisement period
25 Jun 2023
Contract Type
Full Time

About the job

We seek a three-year postdoctoral research fellow specializing in stable isotope analysis applied to bone collagen and archaeological osteological remains of humans and other key taxa, focusing on the introduction and prehistoric development of agriculture in Norway.

The successful applicant will

  1. join a growing interdisciplinary research environment with several researchers, PhD students and postdocs, connecting archaeology with the natural sciences,
  2. lead their own isotope-driven research pertaining to the formative period of agriculture from the transitory phase in Norway of the Late Neolithic to the Late Iron Age, measuring mainly δ13C, δ15N and δ34S on bulk collagen,
  3. be a member of the Environmental Archaeology (EnvArch) research group and collaborate with members of running interdisciplinary projects within the so-called “Towards a New European Prehistory” specializing in ancient DNA, radiocarbon dating, data science, bulk stable isotope analysis, and potentially other techniques such as compound-specific isotope analysis and strontium analysis,
  4. build collaborations with national and international institutions and researchers.

More specifically, the successful applicant will design sample-collection strategies to build an isotopic baseline for Norwegian prehistory that outlines core human food webs. The human skeletal material has already been sampled for aDNA analysis and is available for stable isotope measurements. The postdoctoral fellow will analyze these human bones to follow the adaptation to changing environments, mobility, and variability in economic strategies employed by different groups of the population. Animal bones and other food sources will be sampled from museum collections.

The successful candidate will establish protocols for data collection, extract collagen, carry out stable isotope measurements using state-of- the-art in house IRMS equipment, write research manuscripts for international journals, and be co-author of other interdisciplinary papers with collaborating partners. Compulsory work for the University Museum can include teaching, but also archaeozoology, human osteology, or stable isotope analyses for other projects, instrument maintenance or outreach activities, depending on the qualification and interests of the applicant.

The postdoctoral fellow holder will have successfully defended his or her PhD, authored high-quality publication(s) in a related field, and demonstrated evidence of being both intellectually driven and highly cooperative in a teamwork setting. The candidate will be clearly motivated to contribute to the scientific goals of the EnvArch research group and running “Towards a New European Prehistory” research initiatives. Candidates having backgrounds in human or animal osteology, archaeology, isotope science and related fields are welcome to apply.

The successful applicant will be involved in ongoing and new initiatives at the University Museum. The Environmental Archaeology research group is a newly founded group with members from the Departments of Archaeology and Cultural History, Natural History, the National Laboratory for Age Determination, and archaeologists from the Department of Historical and Classical Studies at the Faculty of Humanities, NTNU. The University Museum has an ongoing research collaboration with the Lundbeck Foundation Centre for GeoGenetics, University of Copenhagen, aiming at assessing the process of the introduction of agriculture and related human mobility.

The postdoctoral fellowship position is a temporary position where the main goal is to qualify for work in senior academic positions. The holder of the position will join the Department of Archaeology and Cultural History and the Norwegian National Laboratory for Age Determination, in the University Museum of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).

The holder of the position will be reporting to ass. Prof Birgitte Skar and ass. Prof Bente Philippsen.

The fellowship will begin at the latest by 1st October 2023.

Duties of the position

  • Finalize research design, include sample choice, sample size, data-collection strategy and protocol design for isotopic analyses specific to human remains and each chosen taxon (note that the core human remains are ready for subsampling).
  • Liase with project partners at collaborating Universities, conduct sampling visits nationally and maintain excellent sampling records.
  • Maintain, optimize and operate the IRMS instrument, conducting primary analysis of human and faunal material of a chosen set of taxa.
  • Conduct quantitative data analysis in cooperation with members of staff at Norwegian National Laboratory for Age Determination.
  • Lead the writing of stable isotope papers with collaborators. Co-author interdisciplinary papers led by collaborators.
  • Ensure open-access archiving of project stable isotope data, and associated meta-data, following state-of-the-art protocols.
  • Maintain accurate and accessible records of research expenses and research activities, for reporting to the University Museum.
  • Give effective project presentations in English, and act as an ambassador during research activities and conference attendance, nationally and internationally.
  • Provide frequent updates of project progress to Birgitte Skar, Bente Philippsen and other group members.
  • Engage with training opportunities as needed to fulfill interdisciplinary objectives of the role.

Required selection criteria

  • You must have completed a Norwegian doctoral degree or corresponding foreign doctoral degree recognized as equivalent to a Norwegian PhD in archaeology, biology, chemistry, physics or a related field. If you can document that the PhD thesis has been submitted, your application can be assessed even if you have not yet defended your dissertation. Documentation of the obtained doctoral degree must be presented before you can take on the position.
  • A professionally relevant background in isotope analysis within osteology, archaeology or a cognate discipline, with demonstrated experience of stable isotope analysis.
  • A successfully defended PhD (at the latest by start date)
  • A strong academic background from your previous studies
  • A track record of international journal publication, commensurate with career stage. For recent graduates, planned publications can be in manuscript form if available for evaluation.
  • Demonstrated attention to detail regarding data collection and analysis.
  • Evidence of collegial teamwork and collaborative research.
  • Demonstrated clear motivation to further develop both this project theme and the NTNU University Museum’s role in this research area.
  • Ability to conduct daily spoken and written work in English.

The appointment is to be made in accordance with Regulations on terms of employment for positions such as postdoctoral fellow, Ph.D Candidate, research assistant and specialist candidate.

Preferred selection criteria

  • Direct experience in operation of IRMS instruments and stable isotope analysis or related techniques.
  • Direct experience of osteology and/or archaeology.
  • Excellent public presentation skills.
  • Evidence of experience working with computer programming languages and statistical analysis.
  • Research experience that complements existing expertise at the University Museum.
  • Excellent written and oral English and/or Scandinavian language skills.

Personal characteristics

  • Honesty
  • Collegiality
  • Intellectual ambition
  • Generosity
  • Attention to detail and ability for interdisciplinary contextualization.

Emphasis will be placed on personal and interpersonal qualities.

We offer 

  • a postdoc with competitive funding for running expences
  • exciting and stimulating tasks in a strong international academic environment 
  • encouragement and support to develop an independent research profile within a cooperative team
  • an open and inclusive work environment with dedicated colleagues 
  • a competitive salary and generous holiday entitlement
  • favourable terms in the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund 
  • employee benefits 

Salary and conditions

As a Postdoctoral Fellow (code 1352) you are normally paid from gross NOK 575 400 per annum before tax, depending on qualifications and seniority. From the salary, 2% is deducted as a contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund

The period of employment is 3 years with compulsory duties.

The engagement is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants, and the acts relating to 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 the latter law will be prohibited from recruitment to NTNU.  

It is a prerequisite you can be present at and accessible to the institution on a daily basis.

About the application 

The application and supporting documentation to be used as the basis for the assessment must be in English.

Publications and other scientific work must follow the application. Please note that applications are only evaluated based on the information available on the application deadline. You should ensure that your application shows clearly how your skills and experience meet the criteria which are set out above.  

If, for any reason, you have taken a career break or have had an atypical career and wish to disclose this in your application, the selection committee will take this into account, recognizing that the quantity of your research may be reduced as a result. 

The application must include: 

  • CV and certificates.
  • transcripts and diplomas for bachelor's-, master's- and PhD degrees. If you have not yet completed your PhD, you must provide confirmation on your estimated date for the doctoral dissertation, or that your PhD thesis has been submitted.
  • A copy of the doctoral thesis. If you are close to submitting, or have recently submitted your thesis, you can attach a draft of the thesis. Documentation of a completed doctoral degree must be presented before taking up the position.
  • Academic works - published or unpublished - that you would like to be considered in the assessment (up to 5 items).
  • Name and contact information of three referees.

If all, or parts, of your education has been taken abroad, we also ask you to attach documentation of the scope and quality of your entire education. Description of the documentation required can be found here. If you already have a statement from NOKUT, please attach this as well.

Joint works will be considered. If it is difficult to identify your contribution to joint works, you must attach a brief description of your participation. 

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal and interpersonal qualities. Motivation, ambitions, and potential will also count in the assessment of the candidates. 

NTNU is committed to following evaluation criteria for research quality according to The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment - DORA. 

General information 

 Working at NTNU 

NTNU believes that inclusion and diversity is a strength. We want our faculty and staff to reflect Norway’s culturally diverse population and we continuously seek to hire the best minds. This enables NTNU to increase productivity and innovation, improve decision making processes, raise employee satisfaction, compete academically with global top-ranking institutions and carry out our social responsibilities within education and research. NTNU emphasizes accessibility and encourages qualified candidates to apply regardless of gender identity, ability status, periods of unemployment or ethnic and cultural background.

The city of Trondheim is a modern European city with a rich cultural scene. Trondheim is the innovation capital of Norway with a population of 200,000. The Norwegian welfare state, including healthcare, schools, kindergartens and overall equality, is probably the best of its kind in the world. Professional subsidized day-care for children is easily available. Furthermore, Trondheim offers great opportunities for education (including international schools) and possibilities to enjoy nature, culture and family life and has low crime rates and clean air quality.  

As an employee at NTNU, you must at all times adhere to the changes that the development in the subject entails and the organizational changes that are adopted. 

A public list of applicants with name, age, job title and municipality of residence is prepared after the application deadline. If you want to reserve yourself from entry on the public applicant list, this must be justified. Assessment will be made in accordance with current legislation. You will be notified if the reservation is not accepted.

If you have any questions about the position, please contact ass. Prof Birgitte Skar, email  If you have any questions about the recruitment process, please contact HR consultant Anne Karin Henning, e-mail:

If you think this looks interesting and in line with your qualifications, please submit your application electronically via with your CV, diplomas and certificates attached. Applications submitted elsewhere will not be considered. Upon request, you must be able to obtain certified copies of your documentation. 

Application deadline: 25.06.2023 



NTNU - knowledge for a better world

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) creates knowledge for a better world and solutions that can change everyday life.

Department of Archaeology and Cultural History

Our most important field of research is cultural history and cultural heritage, technology and methods of spatial analysis, and conservation in practice. In terms of the Cultural Heritage Act, we conduct archaeological surveys and excavations both on land and in water. Heritage management duties also include preservation and curation of cultural heritage archives and collections. We conduct extensive dissemination and outreach, and educate archaeologists in cooperation with the Department of Historical Studies. The Department of Archaeology and Cultural History is one of two departments at the NTNU University Museum. 

Deadline 25th June 2023
Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Municipality Trondheim
Scope Fulltime
Duration Temporary
Place of service Kalvskinnet

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