Job opportunity: 2* year postdoctoral associate in Amazonian Palynology and Palaeoecology at the University of São Paulo (US), São Paulo, Brazil

Applications are invited for the post of Postdoctoral Research Associate (PDRA) in Amazon Palaeoecology at the Department of Sedimentary and Environmental Geology – Institute of Geosciences, of the University of São Paulo (USP), main campus, in São Paulo, SP, Brazil, available from 4th January 2021 for up to 30 months.

*Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there´s a chance it can be extended for 30 months (2,5 years).

Project summary

The PDRA will join a large inter-disciplinary research project, entitled ‘Human-Environment Relationships in pre-Columbian Amazonia (HERCA), co-funded by the AHRC (UK) (PI: F. Mayle) and FAPESP (Sao Paulo, Brazil) (PI: E. Neves) and is international in scope, involving institutions in the UK, Brazil, Germany, Switzerland, and Bolivia.

Recent ground-breaking discoveries of sedentary, stratified, pre-Columbian societies have overturned the paradigm that environmental constraints limited cultural development in Amazonia to semi-nomadic, hunter-gatherer lifestyles, as practiced by indigenous peoples today. However, the process by which these stratified societies emerged and declined, and their relationships with the environment, remain unresolved.

This project therefore seeks to determine the relationships between the emergence and demise of stratified societies, food procurement strategies, and environmental conditions in Pre-Columbian Amazonia. This will be achieved by close integration between archaeology, palaeoecology, geomorphology and palaeoclimatology. Three study areas have been selected across SW Amazonia which form an environmental gradient – across space and time (the Holocene) – with respect to forest cover, soil fertility, and flood/drought risk. The PDRA will be responsible for the Palaeoecology work package.


∙ collect sediment cores from a series of lakes, palaeochannels and artificial canals in close proximity to archaeological sites in SW Amazonia

∙ undertake pollen, charcoal, lithological, and geochemical analyses of these cores to reconstruct late Holocene vegetation, land-use, and fire histories

∙ liaise closely with the other PDRAs and Co-PIs in the HERCA project to effectively integrate different types of palaeoenvironmental and archaeological data and help organise project workshops and fieldtrips

∙ submit results for publication in several leading international journals and present results at conferences.

∙ be responsible for the day-to-day management of the tropical palaeoecology laboratory and neotropical pollen reference collection

∙ assist with the supervision of undergraduate, MSc and PhD student projects,

∙ play an active, collaborative role within the department and school (workshops, seminars, etc.)

Language: In order to stimulate undergraduate and graduate students to communicate in English, the PDRA fellow will only communicate in this language when in the Palynology laboratory, of the Institute of Geosciences (USP).

Salary: R$ 7.373,10 per month, tax-free

Technical support fund (Reserva Técnica): 15% annually of the scholarship amount to be spent with unforeseen expenses, related to research activities.

The applicant must have:

∙ a PhD degree in Palaeoecology

∙ Expertise in tropical palynology, fieldwork, and lake/bog coring techniques

∙ Expertise in statistical analyses and interpretation

∙ Organisational skills required for time management and scheduling

∙ Good written and oral communication skills required for dissemination of research results in international journals and conferences

∙ Good interpersonal skills

Documents for application

A). Letter of intention and justification (no more than two A4 pages).

B). Complete CV with a list of publications in the field of Palynology, Palaeoecology and related subjects.

Application Deadline

The deadline for applications is the 15 th of July 2020.

Further details:

For an informal discussion about the role, contact Paulo E. De Oliveira by e-mail: