Open positions

Postdoc/PhD positions

1 Postdoc or 1 PhD position in fur seal genomics (A01)

An outstanding opportunity is available either for a postdoc (max. 3.5 years) or for a Ph.D. studentship (3 years) to work on the ecological and evolutionary genomics of fur seals. The position is available in Joe Hoffman's research group (www.thehoffmanlab.com) in the Department of Animal Behaviour at Bielefeld University. The project runs from now until the end of 2021 and is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) within the recently approved collaborative research centre (SFB/TRR 212) entitled: A Novel Synthesis of Individualisation across Behaviour, Ecology and Evolution: Niche Choice, Niche Conformance, Niche Construction (NC3).

The project

The successful candidate will exploit and continue to build upon an exceptionally detailed long-term study of Antarctic fur seals (Arctocephalus gazella) at Bird Island, South Georgia. High quality genome and transcriptome assemblies have already been generated and microsatellite and high density SNP data will be available for up to 7000 marked individuals spanning a time series from the mid 1980's to the current day. The aim of this project (sub-project A01 of the collaborative research centre) is to determine how fitness variation is shaped by interactions between individual genetic quality (inbreeding) and the social environment within breeding colonies. We will collect highly detailed observational and biometric time-series data from mother-offspring pairs in two neighbouring colonies of high and low social density. We will then dissect apart the mechanistic underpinnings of fitness variation using a combination of endocrinological and immunological profiling, gene expression profiling, high-density SNP genotyping and methylation profiling. The result will be an unprecedentedly detailed understanding of the behavioural, physiological and genetic mechanisms underpinning fitness variation in a wild vertebrate, which will have important implications for understanding ecological and evolutionary dynamics as well as adaptation to climate change.

Postdoc applicants

We seek a bright and highly motivated postdoc with a strong PhD in a relevant topic (e.g. population genetics, behavioural genetics, evolutionary or conservation genomics). We are looking for two main attributes in particular: (i) The candidate must have a deep understanding as well as practical experience of working with genomic data (experience of gene expression profiling and / or whole-genome resequencing would be particularly desirable) and be proficient in writing custom scripts and working in Unix and R; (ii) As the project involves two field seasons at South Georgia in the South Atlantic, the candidate would ideally also have hands-on experience of fieldwork with vertebrates. Experience of working with long-term individual-based datasets from wild animal populations would be advantageous but is not a requirement. The candidate should be able to work both independently and as part of a multidisciplinary team, and a high standard of spoken and written English is expected.

Ph.D. applicants

Bright and highly motivated Ph.D. candidates should hold a B.Sc. or equivalent in a relevant topic (e.g. population genetics, behavioural genetics, evolutionary or conservation genomics). An M.Sc. would also be advantageous but is not necessary. Strong quantitative skills (including proficiency in R) as well as practical experience of working with next generation sequence data (e.g. gene expression profiling or related approaches) would be desirable, but training can be provided. The candidate should also be able to work both independently and as part of a multidisciplinary team, and a high standard of spoken and written English is expected.

The working environment

The successful candidate will join the Hoffman lab, a young and dynamic group comprising three PhD students and two postdocs. They will be based at the Department of Animal Behaviour at Bielefeld University (www.uni-bielefeld.de/biologie/animalbehaviour/home). The department is the oldest of its kind in Germany and currently hosts around six principal investigators, ten postdocs and twenty PhD students. It offers a stimulating international environment and an excellent research infrastructure including brand new molecular laboratories. The working language of the Department is English. The successful candidate will also have the opportunity to interact closely with the cooperation partner (Dr Jaume Forcada) during two Antarctic field seasons and via placements at the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, UK. Bielefeld University is particularly committed to the career development of its employees. It offers attractive internal and external training and further training programmes. Employees have the opportunity to use a variety of health, counselling and prevention programmes. Bielefeld University places great importance on a work/family balance for all its employees. Bielefeld is a city of 325,000 inhabitants with an attractive historical centre and easy access to the Teutoberger Wald for hiking and other outdoor pursuits. It offers a very high standard of living and is well connected to most major European cities.

The collaborative research centre

The successful candidate will be embedded within a larger collaborative research centre (SFB) comprising 18 principle investigators, 9 postdocs and 16 PhD students based at Bielefeld University, the University of Münster and the University of Jena. The aim of the SFB is to produce a conceptual and empirical synthesis of individualisation across behaviour, ecology and evolution. The SFB will provide exceptional opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration and academic networking, together with structured training, scientific exchange and early career support programmes. Full details of the SFB can be found at www.uni-bielefeld.de/biologie/crc212.

Renumeration

Salary will be paid according to Remuneration level 13 (Postdoc 100%, PhD studentship 65%) of the Wage Agreement for Public Service in the Federal States (TV-L) and includes health insurance.

Application procedure

To apply, please provide:

  1. a letter of motivation including a statement of your research interests and skills and experience relevant to the position;
  2. a CV including publication list;
  3. names and contact details of two referees willing to write confidential letters of recommendation;
  4. Please also state where you saw the position advertised.

All materials should be e-mailed as a single PDF file to: joseph.hoffman@uni-bielefeld.de with 'Postdoc/PhD studentship application' (delete as applicable) in the subject line.

The application deadline is April 14th 2018 and interviews will take place shortly thereafter. We would ideally like the successful candidate to start before July 1st, although there is some scope for flexibility depending on the timeframe of the most qualified applicant.

For further information, please see www.thehoffmanlab.com and / or contact Joe Hoffman (joseph.hoffman@uni-bielefeld.de) with any informal inquiries. Note: this position is being re-advertised due to a limited response to our posting of December 2017.

Bielefeld University has received a number of awards for its achievements in the provision of equal opportunity and has been recognized as a family friendly university. The University welcomes applications from women. This is particularly true with regard both to academic and technical posts as well as positions in Information Technology and Trades and Craft. Applications are handled according to the provisions of the state equal opportunity statutes. Applications from suitably qualified handicapped and severely handicapped persons are explicitly encouraged.

Representative publications

Hoffman JI et al. (2007) Female fur seals show active choice for males that are heterozygous and unrelated. Nature 445: 912-914

Hoffman JI et al. (2014) High-throughput sequencing reveals inbreeding depression in a natural population. Proc Nat Acad Sci USA, 111: 3775-3780.

Forcada J & Hoffman JI (2014). Climate change selects for heterozygosity in a declining fur seal population. Nature, 511: 462-465.

Stoffel et al. (2015) Chemical fingerprints encode mother-offspring similarity, colony membership, relatedness and genetic quality in fur seals. Proc Nat Acad Sci USA, 112: E5005-E5012

See www.thehoffmanlab.com/publications/ for a full list together with downloadable PDFs.

1 Postdoc position in Theoretical Evolutionary Ecology (D03)

A Postdoc position in theoretical evolutionary ecology is available at the Faculty of Biology at Bielefeld University, Department of Evolutionary Biology (with Prof. Dr. Klaus Reinhold.) The position runs from early 2018 to the end of 2021 and is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) within the recently approved collaborative research centre (SFB/TRR 212) entitled: A Novel Synthesis of Individualisation across Behaviour, Ecology and Evolution: Niche Choice, Niche Conformance, Niche Construction (NC3).

The project

The aim of the Postdoc project is to develop ecological and evolutionary theory to contribute towards a better understanding of intra-specific niche variation. The project is entitled "Modelling adaptive individualised niches in behaviour" (sub-project D04 of the collaborative research centre, with Klaus Reinhold). It will explore the conditions that favour the evolution of between-individual variation in behavioural niches. The aim is to focus on mate choice and exploration and examine to which extent phenotypic variation can be maintained based on genetic differences and variation in adaptive phenotypic plasticity.

The collaborative research centre

The postdoc will be embedded within a larger collaborative research centre (SFB) comprising 18 principle investigators, 8 postdocs and 16 PhD students based at Bielefeld University, the University of Münster and the University of Jena. The aim of the SFB is to produce a conceptual and empirical synthesis of individualisation across behaviour, ecology and evolution. The SFB will provide exceptional opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration and academic networking, together with structured training, scientific exchange and early career support programmes. Full details of the SFB can be found at www.uni-bielefeld.de/biologie/crc212.

Main responsibilities

  • Research tasks (90%):
    • Development of eco-evolutionary models
    • Mathematical analysis of models
    • Implementation in a programming language, e.g. in R, C++, Python
    • Simulation studies
    • Collaboration with other research groups in the collaborative research centre
    • Writing scientific publications
  • Organizational tasks in the research group and collaborative research centre (10%)

Applicants' profiles

We seek a bright and highly motivated postdoctoral researcher with

  • a university degree in a relevant discipline, e.g. biology, mathematics, physics or bioinformatics,
  • a completed PhD in a relevant field, ideally related to theoretical ecology, population genetics, or evolutionary ecology,
  • experience with mathematical modeling,
  • programming skills in at least one programming language (e.g. R, C++, Python),
  • interest in both biological and mathematical questions,
  • ability to work both independently and as part of a team, and
  • excellent oral and written communication skills in English.

The following qualifications would additionally be of advantage:

  • papers in peer-reviewed international journals,
  • experience in collaborations between empiricists and theoreticians, and
  • experience with high-performance computing.

Remuneration

Salary will be paid according to Remuneration level 13 of the Wage Agreement for Public Service in the Federal States (TV-L).

Bielefeld University is particularly committed to the career development of its employees. It offers attractive internal and external training and further training programmes. Employees have the opportunity to use a variety of health, counselling, and prevention programmes. Bielefeld University places great importance on a work-family balance for all its employees.

Application procedure

To apply, please provide:

  1. a letter of motivation including a statement of your research interests and skills and experience relevant to the position;
  2. a CV including publication list;
  3. names and contact details of two referees willing to write confidential letters of recommendation.

All materials should be emailed as a single PDF file to: meike.wittmann@uni-bielefeld.de. Please specify in your application whether you wish to apply for project D03 or D04 or both. The application process will be managed jointly for the two positions. Preference for one of the topics can also be indicated or discussed at a later stage.

The application deadline is May 15th 2018 and interviews will take place shortly thereafter. After the decision, the positions should start as soon as possible.

For further information on the projects and the departments, please contact Klaus Reinhold (klaus.reinhold@uni-bielefeld.de) with any informal inquiries.

Bielefeld is a city of 325,000 inhabitants with all expected amenities and easy access to the Teutoburger Wald for hiking and other outdoor pursuits. It offers a high standard of living and is well connected to most major European cities.

Bielefeld University has received a number of awards for its achievements in the provision of equal opportunity and has been recognized as a family friendly university. The University welcomes applications from women. This is particularly true with regard both to academic and technical posts as well as positions in Information Technology and Trades and Craft. Applications are handled according to the provisions of the state equal opportunity statutes. Applications from suitably qualified handicapped and severely handicapped persons are explicitly encouraged.