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PhD Position - Birth simulation via machine learning

Part time (65%), 3 years. Senckenberg Museum of Natural History and Research Institute, Frankfurt am Main. Starting 01. November 2023. Application Deadline: 01. July 2023.

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The recently funded Leibniz Collaborative Excellence project entitled, “Paleo-obstetrics Understanding via Simulation and Heuristic Artificial Intelligence Tools” (PUSH@IT) is a joint venture of the Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung (SGN) and several international institutions including Goethe-University Frankfurt/Main, the University of Zürich, Duke University and Aix-Marseille University. It involves a network of clinical and academic researchers interested in applying their respective expertise to understanding the unique human birth process and its evolutionary significance. PUSH@IT is based out of the division of Paleoanthropology at the Senckenberg Research institute and Natural History Museum Frankfurt where we invite applications for a PhD student interested in contributing to research on birth difficulty via machine learning and finite element simulation. The position will be formally held through the SGN. The PhD student will be enrolled as a doctoral student at the Goethe-University Frankfurt/Main via the faculty of Biological Sciences.

The successful candidate will work with a team of interdisciplinary researchers to elucidate the origins of the tight fit between the maternal pelvis and the fetal skull in modern humans and across the hominin fossil record using a range of computational methods including automated approaches and simulation techniques. The project will include analyses performed on largescale clinical datasets to identify and predict instances of birth difficulty thus shedding light on the complex mechanisms driving the evolution of pelvic morphology.

Place of employment: Senckenberg Museum of Natural History and Research Institute, Frankfurt am Main

Working hours: Part time (65%)

Type of contract: 3 years, starting 2023, November 1st

Salary: According to the German collective agreement TV-H (Pay grade E 13)

Senckenberg supports equal opportunity for men and women and places an emphasis on fostering career opportunities for women and under-represented groups. Qualified women and other under-represented groups are strongly encouraged to apply. Equally qualified applicants with disabilities will be given preference.

Your work will include the following aspects

• Collection and maintenance of imaging data derived from different 3D scanning modalities

• Development of automated segmentation and landmarking approaches

• Development and implementation of machine learning algorithms

• Presentations at international conference venues relevant for the fields of paleoanthropology and evolutionary medicine

• Publication of results in prominent journals

• Fulfilling any potential course requirements for a PhD degree in Biological Sciences via enrollment at a German University, for example the Goethe-University Frankfurt/Main (more information here:

Your profile

• A master’s degree in Biology or another related subject relevant for the project (depending on the degree type, additional course requirements may apply).

• Experience with statistical analyses and data processing including digital visualization software

• Experience with 3D geometric morphometrics and landmarking approaches

• Proficiency in a coding language, preferably R or Python, is required.

• Excellent communication skills with proficiency in written and oral English

We offer you

• The opportunity to work within a dynamic team of international researchers with access to exceptional academic and clinical resources across Germany, Switzerland, France and the US.

• A relevant and transdisciplinary research topic for a PhD project at the interface of paleoanthropology and evolutionary medicine with important human health implications

• Flexible working hours – leave of absence due to family reasons – parent-child-office – annual special payment – company pension scheme – Senckenberg badge for free entry in museums in Frankfurt, the Zoo, Botanical Garden and Palmengarten – leave of 30 days/year.

• Access to the Goethe Research Academy for Early Career Researchers (GRADE), the central platform for all Early Career Researchers at Goethe University. GRADE offers group-specific support to researchers from the R1-R3 phase, including workshops, individual coaching, networking events, measures for career development, financial support, and language courses (more info available here:

How to apply

Please send your application, mentioning the reference of this job offer (ref. #01-23020) until July 1st 2023, by e-mail (attachment in a single pdf document) including a brief cover letter detailing your current research interests and previous experience (1 page), a scientific writing sample, CV, a sample of annotated code (optional) and copies of all academic degrees, transcripts and grades to:

Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung

Senckenberganlage 25

60325 Frankfurt a.M.