The Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS), founded in 1846, is the largest of the ten federal scientific institutions that are governed by the Belgian Science Policy Office (Belspo). It is a world-class research institute covering a wide range of disciplines, from biology to geology, from oceanography to taxonomy and from paleontology to ecology. One in three people employed at the RBINS is a scientist. With 38 million specimens conserved as Belgian heritage of global significance, the RBINS collections constitute a central point for multiple research projects, as well as for permanent and temporary exhibitions.

The Paleobiosphere Evolution Research Unit is one of the three research subdivisions of the Operational Directorate Earth and History of life. It conducts research on the biodiversity and evolution of fossil fauna and flora through the 1. Evolution and the Tree of Life with a focus on the major events in the evolution of life and adaptations to major environmental changes in the past; 2. Palecosystem dynamics with the biostratigraphy and ecosystem evolution by reconstructing fossil environments and paleoclimatology.

The Belspo BRAIN project PerissOrigin (Origin and early radiation of perissodactyls based on precious fossil collections) is led by RBINS with the Institute of Evolutionary Sciences of Montpellier (ISEM) of the University of Montpellier and with the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology of Beijing as partners. This project aims at carrying out a global synthesis of the first stages of the evolutionary history of Perissodactyla and the links with other groups of primitive ungulates. PerissOrigin will consider the new discoveries of the last decades, both taxonomic and phylogenetic, and will rely on the exceptional collections of the RBINS. The objectives of the project are divided into two aspects, the collection and the scientific expertise.

Collection objectives: 1. Valorize the heritage and the RBINS paleontological collections; 2. Describe almost complete unpublished remains with high scientific potential; 3. Undertake the digitization of exceptional specimens and holotypes and make them available on Virtual Collection and Morphosource platforms to facilitate access for scientists; 4. Increase international cooperation via the partners included in the project that can benefit the Heritage collections.

Scientific Objectives: 1. Decipher the first steps of the evolutionary history of Perissodactyla by establishing a phylogenetic synthesis of early perissodactyls, with a particular attention on the relations within the European and North American equoids; 2. Investigate the paleobiogeographic origin of Perissodactyla; 3. Study the evolutionary trends (synapomorphies) within each superfamily.


  • You will actively participate in the study of Paleogene perissodactyl paleontology collections of the RBINS.
  • You will be involved in research stays in partner institutions in and outside Europe.
  • You will prepare phylogenetic character matrices of fossil perissodactyls and other closely related groups.
  • You will perform cladistic analysis with specific software to construct phylogenetic trees.
  • You will segment micro-CT scan images of fossil perissodactyl remains using 3-D reconstruction software.
  • You will process 2-D and 3-D images with image processing software.
  • You will produce figures for publication in scientific articles.
  • You will write and publish scientific articles related to the research project.
  • You will participate in the communication and dissemination of knowledge and research results to the scientific community and civil society.


You have a PhD degree in sciences with a specialization in vertebrate paleontology. If you obtained your degree outside the Benelux, an equivalency recognition is required.

Technical competence

  • Knowledge of the systematics of perissodactyls.
  • Knowledge of dental and bone anatomical structures of perissodactyls.
  • Knowledge of cladistics analysis software.
  • Knowledge of imaging software for processing raw data (image segmentation and creation of surface models).
  • You have already done research in an international framework.

Generic competence

  • Very good English communication skills, both oral and written. Knowledge of French and/or Dutch is an advantage.
  • You are structured, result-oriented and have a team spirit.

We offer

  • A full-time employment contract as a researcher for 12 months, renewable for another 12 months depending on results and progress.
  • A salary according to the standard scale for employees in the federal scientific institutions (SW11).
  • You will work in a dynamic, challenging, varied, and stimulating research environment in a historical Art Nouveau building located in the heart of Brussels, next to the European parliament.
  • You will receive a full reimbursement of public transport for commuting, or a bicycle allowance if you commute by bike, as well as internet-connectivity allowance.

The date of commencement of employment would ideally be September 1st, 2023 and not later than December 31, 2023.

How to apply

You can apply for this vacancy by sending your motivation letter and your CV (plus 2 potential referees) in English to the coordinator of the project:

Thierry Smith (RBINS) Rue Vautier 29, 1000 Bruxelles –, up to and including 4 June 2023 (by midnight Brussels time). 

The selection committee will review all of the applications as soon as possible after the application deadline. As soon as a decision has been made, we will inform you about the next steps in the selection procedure.

Within the framework of a BRAIN-be 2.0 project ‘Museum epigenomics as a Toolbox in Evolutionary Research’ (MUTER), financed by the Belgian Science Policy (BelSPo), the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS) is recruiting a MSc. researcher to conduct epigenomic research on beetle and snail island populations.


This project explores the epigenomic landscape of both historical natural history collections and contemporary zoological specimens and will illustrate how museum epigenomics can aid in unravelling the role of DNA methylation in ecological and evolutionary adaptation. We will use two study systems: an adaptive radiation of caterpillar hunters (Calosoma beetles) at the Galápagos and a shell adaptation in response to differential wave-exposure in the marine periwinkle Tectarius striata at the Azores. This research will explore i) the epigenetic contribution to the early stages of adaptive evolution, ii) the relative importance of genetic determinism versus phenotypic plasticity underlying morphological variation, and iii) best-practices in quantifying variation of the methylome in museum collections. We will apply two different methylation profiling methods: reduced representation bisulphite sequencing (RRBS) and whole genome bisulphite sequencing (WGBS). The successful candidate will work in collaboration with all partners of the MUTER project at RBINS (Carl Vangestel, Gontran Sonet, Frederik Hendrickx and Thierry Backeljau), Ghent University (Jana Asselman) and Uppsala University/Edinburgh University (Katerina Guschanski). Lab work and data analyses will be performed under direct supervision of the Joint Experimental Molecular Unit (JEMU) at the RBINS (


  • Perform DNA extractions, DNA quality evaluation and DNA library preparations.
  • Bioinformatical analysis of RRBS and WGBS data (trimming, aligning, methylation calling).
  • Statistical analysis (identification of differentially methylated regions).
  • Discuss planning and report progress.
  • Collaborate with national and foreign researcher partners.
  • Contribute to writing of progress reports and publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals.


  • MSc in Biology or related discipline (biotechnology, bioscience engineering). For diplomas awarded outside Belgium, a certificate of equivalence must be submitted (exceptions may apply for some countries).

Technical competence

  • Practical experience in the lab to perform standard DNA analyses (DNA extractions, setting up Polymerase Chain Reactions, DNA library preparation).
  • Experience in writing scripts to process NGS data (Linux command lines and/or Phyton/Perl) is a plus.
  • Experience in conducting statistical analyses in an R environment is a plus.
  • Experience in analyzing methylation data is a plus.
  • Good communication skills in English, both oral and written.

Generic competence

  • Scientific curiosity.
  • A keen interest in evolution.
  • Good organizational and interpersonal skills; team player.
  • Motivated to conduct scientific research.
  • Critical and creative.
  • Scientific integrity.
  • Open minded and taking initiative.

We offer

  • A 2-year (fixed term) full-time research position within a dynamic and interesting working environment.
  • A salary according to the standard scale for MSc employees in the federal scientific institutions (SW1).
  • Free public transport or a reimbursement for home-work travel by bike will be paid by the employer.  
  • Anticipated start date: 1st of September 2023.

How to apply

Application to be submitted electronically in a single PDF file, by e-mail, to Carl Vangestel ( with subject heading: “application MSc MUTER”.

The application should include a CV, a motivation letter and 2 reference letters.

Deadline for applications: 04/06/2023.

All applications will be assessed after the deadline and shortlisted candidates will be contacted for an interview (remote or live depending on availabilities).

Contact person for more information:

Carl Vangestel:

The Operational Directorate ‘Natural Environment’ (OD Nature) at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS) and the Earth and Life Institute (ELI) at the Université catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain) jointly offer a full-time (100%) research position to develop the next generation of marine forecasting and nowcasting techniques, products, and services for the Belgian part of the North Sea. This vacancy is part of the BELSPO FED-tWIN research profile Prf-2022-021 ‘Next-TIDE’. 


The FED-tWIN programme is a federal research programme to support sustainable cooperation between the ten Federal Scientific Institutions (FSI) which fall under Belgian Science Policy (BELSPO) and the eleven Belgian universities:

Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences

The Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS), founded in 1846, is one of the ten federal scientific institutions that are governed by the Belgian Science Policy Office (BELSPO). The Institute aims to provide the scientific world, public authorities and civil society with good and relevant science, appropriate advice, opening avenues of discovery in nature, its long history, and its sustainable management. 200 skill-full scientists -most of them with a PhD level- conduct world-class research within three scientific Operational Directorates: ‘Natural Environment’, ‘Earth and History of Life’ and ‘Taxonomy and Phylogeny’.

Thanks to 70+ marine scientists (biologists, chemists, geologists, physicists, oceanographers, modelers, mathematicians, geographers, engineers, and bioengineers), OD Nature plays a pivotal role in the transdisciplinary study of the North Sea ecosystems. It operates the Belgian Marine Forecasting Centre, and the Belgian Marine Data Centre. It manages the Reasearch Vessel Belgica. It develops the marine modelling frameworks COHERENS. It contributes to various European Research Infrastructure (EMBRC, ICOS, LifeWatch, JERICO, etc.) and is a production unit for the Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring Service. It is responsible for the follow-up of different legal obligations for the management of the marine environment. It works on environmental impact assessments of human activities at sea, aerial surveillance of the sea, monitoring of the quality of the sea in the framework of the OSPAR Convention and the European Framework Directives (Water and Marine Strategy). It hosts the offices of EuroGOOS AISBL and SeaDataNet AISBL.

Université catholique de Louvain

The Université catholique de Louvain, founded in 1425, is a multidisciplinary university in the heart of Europe, member of the Circle-U European university alliance. Its 14 faculties and 23 doctoral schools offer degrees and research opportunities to more than 30,000 students in almost all fields of study. Its 22 research institutes, 40 technology platforms, 2 university hospitals, and 3 science parks, which include 2 incubators and host more than 280 companies and 84 spin-offs and start-ups, are a testament to UCLouvain’s dedication to conducting fundamental and applied research. They also, along with UCLouvain’s faculties and schools, exercise a cross-disciplinary research approach.

UCLouvain is a diverse and open community. One-third of its professors are women and nearly the same proportion are internationals. One-fifth of its students are international, representing more than 120 nationalities. UCLouvain partners with higher education institutions throughout the world. Hence, it participates in several international initiatives that open doors to new teaching and research projects. Moreover, recognising that exploring major social issues demands a more comprehensive, cross-disciplinary approach, UCLouvain launched a new research initiative, the ‘Louvain4’ consortiums. These bring together researchers from all sectors of the university to study themes of societal interest. Nine key topics have so far been identified: nutrition, ageing, cities and community life, education, energy, water, evolution, space and migration.

The Earth and Life Institute (ELI) of UCLouvain gathers more than 300 scientists, covering a wide range of disciplines in the Earth & Life sciences. The research objective is to understand the basic processes of the Earth & Life System at different scales and to design sustainable solutions to meet some of the major challenges for our societies. Thanks to its critical size, the institute's role is to promote interdisciplinarity and stimulate interactions between scientists of complementary expertise.



The FED-tWIN Researcher will strive to become a leading expert in applying machine learning techniques to marine forecasting and nowcasting products and services. They will establish their own research group by designing innovative research projects, securing competitive funding, coordinating projects, and mentoring junior researchers, including PhD candidates.

The researcher will foster collaborations with national and international partners, including those within the digital twin of the ocean initiative. They will actively disseminate research findings within the global academic community through publications and conference presentations.

Working at the intersection of the RBINS Marine Forecasting Centre and UCLouvain Earth and Life Institute, the FED-tWIN Researcher will collaborate closely with colleagues from both institutions, further solidifying the existing partnerships between them.


The FED-tWIN Researcher will supervise Master's students and research internships at both institutions. The ideal candidate must thrive in a multicultural and multilingual environment, working effectively with students, researchers, professors, and technical/administrative colleagues.



The FED-tWIN researcher will directly enhance the products and services offered by the RBINS Marine Forecasting Centre. They will actively participate in the operational and administrative aspects of both departments, as well as contribute to fundraising efforts for projects related to the research profile. This includes integrating their research activities within the broader research and outreach strategies of both institutions. With a 50% appointment at each institution, the FED-tWIN researcher will have limited administrative responsibilities at the department or faculty level.


The candidate holds a PhD degree in Sciences (Physics, Mathematics, Oceanography, Meteorology, Marine Ecosystems, etc.) or in Applied Sciences (Mechanical Engineer, Applied Mathematics, Bioengineer, etc.).

The PhD degree was obtained at most 12 years prior to the job application submission date. The 12-year period is extended by one year for each maternity, parental & adoption leave of the candidate and for each long-term sick leave of the candidate or immediate family members.

Technical competence

Specific expertise

The candidate will have a solid research expertise in Earth Sciences (preferably in oceanography, meteorology, hydrology, geology and/or marine ecosystem) and in Data Sciences (preferably in machine learning, data mining, etc.).

The candidate must have a good background in statistics and probability.


The candidate is expected to have a strong research curriculum within the domain of oceanography or machine learning. The research quality should be apparent from publications in leading international journals.

Previous work experience in international projects is desirable.

Previous experience in writing research proposals would be a significant asset.

Technical skills

The candidate will have outstanding programming skills, with experience in programming languages such as Python, C/C++ or Fortran 2008.

Experience with neural network frameworks (such as PyTorch, Tensorflow, JAX, etc.) will be an advantage.

Generic competence

The ideal candidate must possess the following skills:

  • A passion for applied marine research in a multidisciplinary context.
  • Proactive approach to achieving objectives within the given timeframe.
  • Flexibility to collaborate effectively in a team on multiple projects.
  • Strong communication skills, with the ability to engage with scientists from diverse backgrounds.
  • Excellent English communication skills, both oral and written. Knowledge of French and/or Dutch is an advantage.

We offer

We offer a full-time researcher position that will take place as two 50% contracts at the RBINS and UCLouvain.

RBINS offers

  • A part-time 50% open-ended employment contract as a “work leader” (SW2 salary scale for senior researcher).
  • You will do 50% of your work in a dynamic, challenging, varied, and stimulating research environment at the heart of Brussels, next to the European parliament.
  • A full reimbursement of public transport for commuting, or a bicycle allowance if you commute by bike.

UCLouvain offers

  • A part-time commitment (50%) as a postdoctoral researcher for the first five years. The initial five-year contract will be an undetermined contract with no intention of termination. An evaluation will be established after the initial 5-year period. After the first 10 years, for which we have a firm commitment, the continuation of the contract will depend on the results and the availability of suitable funding or an academic position for which we cannot make any commitment nowadays.
  • A dynamic and stimulating work environment at UCLouvain's Louvain-la-Neuve campus.
  • Full reimbursement for commuting via public transport and/or a bicycle allowance.

The start date will be set by mutual agreement with the candidate, but this date shall not be later than 1st March 2024.

How to apply

To apply, please email a single PDF file containing: (i) a concise motivation statement for your application, including an outline of your future research plans (maximum 2 A4 pages, in English); (ii) your curriculum vitae accompanied by a publication list and contact information for 3 professional references; (iii) the academic dossier containing all pertinent elements (degree and diploma copies with associated grades, etc.). The application should be sent to (subject of email: “job application”) before June 18th 2023, 23:59 (CET).

Only applications that correspond to the profile and sent within the prescribed deadline will be accepted and responded to.

The selection committee will review all of the applications as soon as possible after the application deadline. As soon as a decision has been made, we will inform you about the next steps in the selection procedure.

For further information regarding the job itself or the terms and conditions of employment, please contact Dr. Sébastien Legrand ( and Prof. Emmanuel Hanert (  

General information about RBINS and UCLouvain research can be found on their respective websites: and

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