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Postdoctoral fellowship (2 years) in “Predicting the coevolutionary trajectories of simple microbial communities”

The Integrated Science Lab (IceLab) jointly with the Department of Molecular Biology and the Department of Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics, seek a postdoctoral fellow for the following multidisciplinary project: “Predicting the coevolutionary trajectories of simple microbial communities”.

Project Description

The evolutionary fate of microbial communities can be difficult to predict. Even simple systems consisting of only a few species or strains can abruptly shift course, e.g. cooperating bacteria can gain mutations that cause them to compete. Experiments have started to probe the evolutionary trajectories of simple microbial communities but the findings are often idiosyncratic---either due to differences in the specific setup or the fact that evolution relies on chance events. We lack general understanding and, importantly, null models that shape our expectations and allow for predictions. This project addresses these significant gaps in our understanding by creating a framework that harnesses the availability of genome-scale metabolic networks to determine the distribution of evolutionary trajectories of coevolving microbes. The postdoc will get the opportunity to use a database of metabolic models that the PIs have established to identify broad statistical patterns concerning the nature of putative ecological interactions. From this point, the postdoc will then simulate the effects of mutations, growth, and reassortment to uncover simple predictive rules. The project draws upon the strengths of our team and outlines a feasible set of scientific explorations that would constitute a successful postdoc. We also anticipate the postdoc’s studies to open up many additional avenues of exploration that will result in future collaborative ventures both within the team and with IceLab and the broader academic community.

This postdoc will be placed in IceLab, hosted by the Department of Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics and supervised by a multidisciplinary team with complementing expertise in modelling, network analyses, microbial ecology, and evolution prediction.

IceLab at Umeå University: World-leading interdisciplinary research

Umeå University conducts internationally recognized research in several areas, including applied mathematics, microbiology, epidemiology, public health, sustainability, economy, and artificial intelligence.

The under-explored terrain between traditional disciplines is full of fascinating and impactful research questions. Many researchers at Umeå University strive to explore this terrain by bridging disciplinary boundaries, especially those researchers who are associated with interdisciplinary research environments such as IceLab.

At IceLab, we promote and facilitate transdisciplinary collaborations – with a focus on cutting-edge research that integrates theoretical, computational, and empirical work. We combine mathematical and computational modeling expertise with a deep interest in working with empirical researchers.

We will welcome you to IceLab with genuine support by creative researchers working on a multitude of interdisciplinary problems. You will participate in both professionally and personally rewarding and entertaining activities aimed at training a new kind of researcher. A multidisciplinary team of researchers with complementary expertise will supervise each postdoc.

The two-year postdoc fellowship is financed by the Kempe foundations. A fellowship amounts to 315 000 SEK per year plus 50 000 SEK in running costs. Application deadline January 31, 2022. Start March 1, 2022 or as soon as possible (exact start date according to agreement).

Qualifications

To qualify for the fellowship, the candidate should have a PhD degree, or a foreign degree that is deemed equivalent, in one of the following fields: Evolutionary biology, Computational Biology, Mathematical Biology, Microbiology, Molecular Biology, or other related disciplines.  Priority should be given to candidates who have completed their doctoral degree no more than three years before the closing date of the application. A candidate who has not completed their degree prior to this may be considered if special circumstances exist. Special circumstances include absence due to illness, parental leave or clinical practice, appointments of trust in trade unions or similar circumstances.

The ideal candidate should have strong skills in implementing and analyzing mathematical models. The applicant needs additionally to have excellent skills in modern computer programming languages such as C++, Python, MATLAB or R so as to simulate evolutionary dynamics.  Personal qualities such as collaboration, communication, strong drive and motivation, critical thinking abilities, creativity and analytical skills are essential. The applicant should be able to develop their knowledge independently and as part of a team. Good knowledge of oral and written English is required.

Application

A full application should include:

  1. A cover letter summarizing your qualifications, your scientific interests, which project or projects you are particularly interested in, and your motives for applying (max 2 pages),
  2. A curriculum vitae (CV) with publication list,
  3. Certified copy of doctoral degree certificate,
  4. Certified copies of other diplomas, list of completed academic courses and grades,
  5. Copy of doctoral thesis,
  6. Copies of relevant publications,
  7. Contact information for at least two reference persons,
  8. Other documents that the applicant wishes to claim.

Submit your application as a PDF marked with the reference number FS 2.1.6-2732-21, both in the file name and in the subject field of the email, to medel@diarie.umu.se. The application can be written in English (preferably) or Swedish. Application deadline is 31 January 2022.

Further Information

For more information, please contact Eric Libby, eric.libby@umu.se or Peter Lind, peter.lind@umu.se.

We look forward to receiving your application.