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Two open PhD positions in the THEE lab in Bern

Two funded, 4-year PhD positions are available in the Division of Theoretical Ecology and Evolution at the University of Bern, Switzerland.

14.02.2022 – 01.04.2022

Two PhD positions in Theoretical Ecology and Evolution

Two funded, 4-year PhD positions are available in the Division of Theoretical Ecology and Evolution (https://banklab.github.io/) led by Professor Claudia Bank at the University of Bern, Switzerland. The positions are part of the ERC project “FIT2GO – a toolbox for fitness landscapes in evolution”, in which we study adaptation and speciation from a fitness-landscape point of view.

The specific PhD projects will be developed individually and should broadly address some of the following questions (see also this review paper from the lab: Fragata et al., 2019, TrEE, https://www.dropbox.com/s/wiy9doprw3nhoe2/tree_ms.pdf?dl=0):

1. How do fitness landscapes vary across environments, and how does that affect adaptation?

2. What is the role of epistasis (i.e., the interaction of mutations for fitness) during speciation?

3. How much information on epistasis and past environmental change is maintained in genomes, and how can we extract this information?

4. Which signature do different evolutionary processes leave in genomic data?

5. How do ecology and evolution interact to shape populations and communities?

Depending on the overarching fundamental question, the projects might relate to applied problems, such as the predictability or repeatability of (drug resistance) evolution, or the probability of populations to adapt or persist in the face of the climate crisis.

Both projects will be theoretical in nature and can involve mathematical modeling, computer simulations, and/or statistical method development and data analysis. If it strengthens the project and if the student is interested, a (minor) experimental or field-work component can be included via our empirical collaborators.

Your profile

Candidates must be highly motivated, creative, and able to work independently and collaboratively. Applications from diverse scientific backgrounds (e.g., from physics, mathematics, statistics, computer science, biology) are encouraged. In their motivation letter, applicants from outside biology should state why they are interested in the study of ecology and evolution, and applicants from biology should state why they are interested in joining a theoretical research group. Candidates must have excellent written and spoken communication skills in English, which is the working language of our institute. A Master degree is required. This position is open to applicants worldwide. We are committed to increasing diversity, equity and inclusiveness in ecology and evolution and especially encourage applications from underrepresented groups.

Work environment

The Division of Theoretical Ecology and Evolution is a dynamic, international, and interdisciplinary group. Current and former group members include trained biologists, physicists, mathematicians, bioinformaticians, anthropologists, and biochemists. As sup-porters of the Better Science Initiative (https://betterscience.ch/en/), our lab philosophy includes open and compassionate communication, regular individual meetings and evaluation of mentoring and career development needs, and prioritization of the well-being of all lab members. Our group is part of the Institute of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Bern (https://www.iee.unibe.ch/); we are also members of the Bern Data Sci-ence Initiative (https://www.bedsi.unibe.ch/) and the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics (https://www.sib.swiss/). Through these structures, the PhD students will have ample opportunities for interactions and collaborations across research fields with a vibrant international community of graduate students, post-doctoral researchers, and professors. The University of Bern is situated near the heart of the beautiful old city, and the quality of life in Bern is very high, with the Swiss alps in close vicinity.

The starting date of the PhD positions is negotiable (ideally in fall 2022). The starting salary is 47,040 CHF and includes social security contributions.

Contact and Application

Please submit your application via email by 1 April 2022 to Prof. Claudia Bank: claudia.bank@iee.unibe.ch. Applicants must submit one merged PDF file that includes a letter of motivation mentioning the desired starting date (<500 words), a CV, names of two referees who should have sent their recommendation letter separately by email before the deadline, and copies of relevant publications and/or the Master thesis.