Deadline: 2015-06-15
Level Of Study: PhD

PhD Collection Building

The PhD student will work within a research programme funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO): A New History of Fishes. A long-term approach to fishes in science and culture, 1550-1880, supervised by Professor Paul J. Smith (LUCAS). This PhD subproject is co-funded by Naturalis Biodiversity Center and LUCAS. This PhD project focuses on two principal themes. 1) Innovation and tradition in ichthyology in the Netherlands during the ‘long 19th century.
The three key figures of Dutch 19th-century ichthyology were Houttuyn (1720-1798), Schlegel (1804-1884) and Bleeker (1819-1878). The subproject investigates the continued value of tradition by investigating to what extent these key figures continued referring to and relying on (in text and image) historical fish books of the 18th, 17th or even 16th centuries. Classification in Dutch 19th-century ichthyology was based on Linnaeus (1758). Did dissection and anatomical investigations clash or co-exist with reliance on earlier sources and classifications (including Linnaeus)? What was the role and extent of standardisation in illustration and description? Illustration policies of the various authors suggest that standardisation of both description and illustration, as well as a subtle interplay between text and image, were more important where newly discovered species were concerned (e.g. in the Fauna Japonica and Bleekers Atlas Ichtyologique) than for the already known species.
2) The formation of ichthyological collections and the role of Dutch colonial policy.
During the 19th century, both private collections and the collections of public museums were crucially important to the development of ichthyology in the Netherlands. The focus here is on the creation of the s Rijks Museum van Natuurlijke Historie (RMNH), now Naturalis Biodiversity Center, and in particular on the role, place and composition of its ichthyological material. In the Netherlands, as in the neighbouring countries, state-financed expeditions contributed in a major way to the formation of national natural-historical collections. The Natuurkundige Commissie voor Nederlandsch-Indie (created in 1820) had the specific task of organising collecting expeditions in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), in order to increase the collections of RMNH. In the investigation of the formation of Dutch ichthyological collections during the 19th century, special attention will be paid to the intertwining of scientific and political interests, using archival sources that have as yet been underexplored, in particular the reports of the Natuurkundige Commissie.
   Writing a PhD thesis;
 Submitting research results for publication in peer-reviewed academic journals;
 Submitting research results for incorporation in a synthetic publication to be edited by the programme director;
 Presenting papers at conferences, both in the Netherlands and internationally;
 Some teaching in the second and third year of the appointment;
 Organising and participating in reading and discussion groups, seminars and workshops within the research group, and within LUCAS, as well as the wider Faculty of Humanities.
 The applicant has a Masters or equivalent degree, preferably in History and/or History of Science and/or History of Collections. The MA thesis must be of high quality, with a grade of at least 8.0 on a ten-point scale, or comparable assessment;
 The applicants MA thesis testifies to well-developed research skills, including the ability to formulate relevant and creative research questions and hypotheses, descriptive and analytical skills, and a clear and persuasive style of writing;
 The applicants CV illustrates a demonstrable interest in historic research in natural history;
 The applicant has good reading competence in French in addition to an excellent command of Dutch and English, in reading, writing and speaking;
 The applicant is able to work both independently and as part of a team;
 The applicant undertakes to finish the proposed PhD research within 4 years;
 The PhD research should result in a doctors degree from the Faculty of the Humanities of Leiden University under the primary supervision of Professor Paul J. Smith (LUCAS) and Professor Menno Schilthuizen (Naturalis).
The Faculty of Humanities hosts a wealth of expertise in fields including philosophy, history, art history, literature, linguistics, and area studies, covering practically the entire world.
The Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society (LUCAS) is one of seven research institutes within the Faculty of Humanities. LUCAS focuses on the study of art, literature and culture through various media.
The successful applicant will be appointed initially for a period of 12 months, with the preferred starting date of 1 January 2016. After positive evaluation of capabilities and compatibility and if progress is satisfactory, the appointment will be extended by a further 3 years. The appointment must lead to the completion of a PhD thesis. Appointment will be under the terms of the CAO (collective labour agreement) of Dutch Universities. The gross monthly salary is set at € 2.125,- in the first year, increasing to € 2.717,-gross per month in year four. This is based on full-time employment and is in line with current salary scales under the collective employment agreement (CAO) of Dutch Universities. An appointment with Leiden University includes a contributory pension scheme and other benefits such as an annual holiday premium of 8% and an end-of-year premium of 8.3%. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax concession.   For more information and the full project proposal, please contact Professor Paul J. Smith, e-mail: For information about LUCAS, see Please submit your application letter (indicating the vacancy number: 15-089) and curriculum vitae before June 15, 2015 to and You are also requested to ask two scholars familiar with your work to send reference letters to the same addresses. We may also contact these referees directly if we need additional information. Please add to your application the following appendices: your MA thesis, copies of relevant course assessments and your MA degree certificate, and other relevant documentation such as certificates of relevant language courses. Please be aware that the procedure may include skype interviews in addition to a final interview in Leiden; interviews are scheduled to take place 22-25 June.

Apply Now

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *