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International Union for the Study of Social Insects

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Here you will find details of social insect related job vacancies, studentships and grants currently available. If you have any social insect related vacancies that you would like to have advertised here, please e-mail to INSECTS@bio.ku.dk. All advertisements must include either a closing date for applications, or a date on which they may be removed from the web site. This page was last modified on Thursday, June 18, 2020

Overview of vacancies on this page:

2 postdoctoral & 2 PhD positions: Ant evolutionary genomics/behaviour, Lausanne

Postdoctoral Position: The molecular and neuronal bases of socially regulated plasticity in circadian rhythms in bees, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Post-doctoral Researcher, Honeybee biology, Jiangxi Agricultural University, China

PhD position open at the IPHC-CNRS (Strasbourg) and the Institut Cochin – INSB (Paris)

Research Technician: Population genetics and genomics of arthropod pests of the urban environment, Texas A&M

Volunteer field assistant for navigational research with desert ants in Tunisia


2 postdoctoral & 2 PhD positions: Ant evolutionary genomics/behaviour, Lausanne

Deadline: 24 July 2020

Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne, Switzerland

We are looking for PhD students and postdocs to work on three lines of research:

  1. Ant behaviour. The idea is to study the evolution of division of labour with a new system based on fiducial identification labels and video tracking. This system which automatically follow all the individuals in a colony allows quantitative studies of behaviour.
  2. Ant genetics. We previously identified a supergene influencing social organization in the fire ant Solenopsis invicta. We have sequenced five closely-related species and found that the same genomic element is also responsible for variation in social organization. The aim of the project is to analyse how this large non-recombining region is evolving.
  3. Evolutionary genomics. We are sequencing and generating RNAseq data for queens and workers of ca. 80 ant species. These data will be available for all sorts of analyses related to social evolution and the study of the genetic basis underlying differences between castes.

These positions will be funded by an ERC grant and the Swiss NSF. Other topics of research on social behaviour are also possible if they fit the research interests of our group: http://www.unil.ch/dee/keller-group

The Department of Ecology and Evolution is a well-funded and vibrant research institution, with superb facilities.

Applications should comprise a CV, a list of publications, 1 page describing why you are interested in joining our group, and contact information for three referees. Only applications with all this information will be considered. Applications should be sent to laurent.keller@unil.ch before July 24, 2020.

Posted 18/6/2020

Postdoctoral Position: The molecular and neuronal bases of socially regulated plasticity in circadian rhythms in bees, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

No deadline given, but start date is as early as 15 July 2020

Both honeybees and bumblebees show natural socially regulated plasticity in circadian rhythms. 'Clock genes' cycle in the brain of the rhythmic foragers but not in “nurse” bees which tend brood around the clock, suggesting that chronobiological plasticity is associated with reorganization of the circadian clockwork. Nevertheless, clock neurons in the brain circadian network measure time in around-the-clock active bees. Nurses removed from the hive rapidly switch to activity with strong circadian rhythms and a phase correlated with ambient day-night cycles. Why do nurse bees that are active around the clock in a tightly regulated environment need a functional clock? How does the circadian system of bees organized to allow this profound plasticity while keeping it robust to support sun compass navigation and time memory in foragers? What are the social factors in the colony that regulate clock plasticity? What are the social signals and pathways mediating social synchronization in bees?  We look for a curious, highly motivated, and skilled postdoc to lead this multidisciplinary research program.

The projects will integrate sociobiological manipulations, behavioral observations, comparative genomics, and molecular and pharmacological tools to manipulate the molecular clockwork of the bee.

Required qualifications
- A PhD degree in molecular evolution, genetics, neurobiology, molecular biology or related fields
- Relevant lab expertise in neuroanatomy, bioinformatics, or molecular biology techniques
- An outstanding academic record
- Experience in organismal biology (e.g., animal behavior, neuroethology, or ecology) is advantageous.
- Fluent spoken and written English
- Excellent communication and interpersonal skills, ability to work in a team.

We offer a strong, internationally recognized and interdisciplinary working environment with an open academic atmosphere. Location in the beautiful city of Jerusalem. The position can start on 15 July 2020 or as soon as possible thereafter. The position is for 2-3 years.

For further information please contact: Prof. Guy Bloch (guy.bloch@mail.huji.ac.il)

Posted 4/6/2020

Post-doctoral Researcher, Honeybee biology, Jiangxi Agricultural University, China

No deadline given

The Honeybee Research Institute is recruiting an early career researcher. The candidate with insect genetic background is strongly encouraged to apply. The candidate with his/her own proposal is preferred.


  1. The candidate must have PhD degree or submitted PhD thesis upon the application.
  2. A minimal 1 peer reviewed publication in a leading Journal of the field is preferred.
  3. The candidate need to communicate with English fluently both orally and in written form.

Funding: The salary and research grant are available for 2 years and the extension for 1 year is possible depending on the performance. The annual salary is 180,000 Yuan (before tax), plus social benefit.

The successful candidate will be based in Honeybee Research Institute, Jiangxi Agricultural University (http://english.jxau.edu.cn), and join a group of enthusiastic young scientists focused on bee biology. The institute respects all forms of diversity and personality. The University provide family friendly community including within campus apartment, free kindergarten and elementary school entrance. The position is available immediately until filled. The candidate with more than 5 years research experience after PhD is not encouraged to apply.

The applicant needs to send a CV to Dr. Huang (qiang-huang@live.com)

For more information please contact Dr. Huang (qiang-huang@live.com)

Qiang Huang
Associate Professor
Honeybee Research Institute, Jiangxi Agricultural University
Zhimin Ave. 1101, Nanchang 330045, China

Posted 4/6/2020

PhD position open at the IPHC-CNRS (Strasbourg) and the Institut Cochin – INSB (Paris)

Deadline: 30 June 2020 for applications. A short list of 5 applicants will be established shortly and interviews realized in the first 15 days of July.

Same Mitochondria, Different Longevities: What Do Ants Tell Us About Metabolic Ageing? a Project Coupling Evolutionary Biology to Cellular Bioenergetics

Key-words : Ageing ; Evolution ; Mitochondria ; Bioenergetics ; Ants ; Proteomics ; Molecular biology

Ants offer an exciting scientific opportunity for the study of ageing processes since these animals have evolved a striking variability of longevities both among species but also within a species among different castes. Shorter lifespan should be associated with a faster progression of age-linked profiles of physiological traits.

In accordance, ants have been used in previous studies to evaluate how the accumulation of damages with age, antioxidant capacities or telomere dynamics may explain ants’ longevity, producing mixed support for the Reactive Oxygen Species or Disposable Soma theories. For example, queens do not show longer telomeres (a determinant of cell lifespan and individual survival) than short-lived workers (females), but do so with short-lived males, suggesting that beyond telomere length, additional cell signalling pathways may be of key importance in queen longevity determination. Energy metabolism and metabolic rate are also considered as essential components of the ageing equation with impact on longevity, shortly stated as “live fast die young”. Mitochondrion is by far the main energy provider for animal cells and also controls redox homeostasis including reactive oxygen generation/disposal.

The question is therefore if/how the longer longevity of certain castes/individuals is associated with biochemical/molecular differences that could be considered as causatives: mitochondrial efficiency, antioxidant levels or telomere dynamics. Are they modified when a worker role changes, switching her ageing phenotype from a low to a fast rate? This raises the question of influence of social context on individual senescence? One requisite is to access to ant’s bioenergetics both at the level of individuals and of mitochondria. Methodological issues will need to be addressed, our first experiments showed that respiration of ants is detected in the high resolution respirometer (O2k Oroboros instruments). In contrast, classical extraction protocols used on vertebrate organs/cells did not yield preparation in which the biochemical activity ant’s mitochondria could be measured. New protocols will have to be invented. We know how to deal with limiting amount of starting material: the extremely sensitive luciferase reaction (luminescence) is used to monitor ATP production rate and flow cytometry to evaluate membrane potential or ROS generation at the level of single mitochondria. To complete the picture of mitochondrial-derived associated ageing signalling pathways (e.g. Bax/Bak, CytC, caspases…) proteomic experiments will be settled.

In this context, we want to develop a new research project in the emerging field of socio-bioenergetics, which unifies the co-evolution of social organization with ageing processes using bioenergetics and molecular methodologies.

The present PhD project addresses the evolutionary mystery of the “ant same mitochondria but astonishing different longevities within a species”, by merging two teams with complementary skills and knowledge. The Ecology, Physiology and Ethology department of the Institut Pluridisciplinaire Hubert Curien will bring its knowledge in evolutionary trade-offs bases and mechanisms of ageing and its presently running ants’ captive colonies. The Physiology and Evolutionary Physiology team (http://www.iphc.cnrs.fr/-Ethologie-et-Physiologie-Evolutive-EPE-.html) focuses on how animals cope with trade-offs (physiology and behavioural mechanisms) and what are the fitness consequences (Evolution). This will be completed by the state-to-the-art bioenergetics approaches of the team Mitochondria, Bioenergetic, Metabolism and Signalization of the Institut Cochin (https://www.institutcochin.fr/la-recherche/emd/equipe-bouillaud).

Expected skills:
The PhD candidate will be shared by the IPHC and the Cochin Institute, with a consequent work using mitochondrial bioenergetics protocols which needs a substantial background in laboratory work. Thus, we are seeking for a student with a large background in energetics/molecular biology, who will be trained with evolutionary biology questioning and interpretation of the results. He will be based during the first year at the Cochin Institute (Paris), working under the supervision of Dr F Bouillaud, doing mainly methodological set-up devoted to measurement of ants’ mitochondria bioenergetics. The second and third years are planned to be in Strasbourg, but schedule may change in relation to the project advancement.

Acquired expertise:
The PhD candidate will become an expert in:

The project is funded by a CNRS- Interdisciplinary Mission grant of 17 keuros for functioning and a PhD allowance of ca. 1700 euros (before taxes) per month for three years (2020-2023), starting next October. The PhD contract will provide access to the French social security. Possibilities of teaching at the University of Strasbourg are open, with substantial income gain. The PhD will be hosted by the doctoral school of the University of Strasbourg (ED 414), and then will have to fulfil all the training obligatory for each PhD (54h in total), mostly provided by the University (French lessons, animal care training, animal ethics…). The IPHC and Cochin research teams are friendly and international and non-French speaking applicants are welcome.

François Criscuolo, IPHC-CNRS, francois.criscuolo@iphc.cnrs.frhttp://www.iphc.cnrs.fr/-Ethologie-et-Physiologie-Evolutive-EPE-.html
Frédéric Bouillaud, Institut Cochin INSB-CNRS, frederic.bouillaud@inserm.frhttps://www.institutcochin.fr/la-recherche/emd/equipe-bouillaud
Fabrice Bertile, IPHC-CNRS, fbertile@unistra.frhttp://www.iphc.cnrs.fr/-Spectrometrie-de-Masse-BioOrganique-LSMBO-.html

Posted 16/4/2020

Research Technician: Population genetics and genomics of arthropod pests of the urban environment, Texas A&M

No deadline given

The Vargo lab at Texas A&M University is recruiting a Research Technician to help with research on the population genetics and genomics of arthropod pests of the urban environment, including termites, ants, cockroaches and bed bugs. This will involve both laboratory and field work with an emphasis on the application of molecular genetic markers in basic and applied research in urban entomology; performing DNA and RNA extraction, PCR, microsatellite genotyping, SNP genotyping; sequencing using Sanger and NGS platforms; and assisting in RNA seq analysis. The successful candidate will also assist in preparing and writing project reports, including written summaries of results for reports and scientific publications; troubleshooting and modifying molecular genetic methods, including DNA extraction, PCR, SNP genotyping, microsatellite genotyping, and sequencing as necessary to accomplish project objectives; organizing and managing large numbers of samples for DNA and RNA analysis.

Applicants should have a Bachelor's degree in Entomology, Biology or closely related field. Knowledge and experience in basic techniques of molecular biology, including DNA extraction, PCR, and gel electrophoresis is required. Preferred candidates will have an M.S. degree in Biology or closely related field or B.S. degree and 2 years of experience working in a molecular biology laboratory; experience running microsatellite markers, including running gels, scoring genotypes and analyzing data; experience in DNA sequencing, including sequence editing and basic phylogenetic analysis; experience working with social insects or urban pest insects in both the field and laboratory; experience preparing reports, writing technical publications and giving oral presentations of research results. Working knowledge of R will be an advantage. We are looking for candidates who are self-motivated and who work well with others.

The Vargo lab in the Department of Entomology at Texas A&M University (https://urbanentomology.tamu.edu) is a dynamic group focusing on basic and applied research on urban insect pests. The group currently consists of 10 personnel (5 Ph.D. students, a postdoc, two technicians and an administrative assistant) and works closely with an extension entomologist. Current projects include the invasion biology of ants and termites, immune defenses of termites, manipulation of host behavior by parasites in ants, and development of RNAi approaches for ant management.

Texas A&M University is one of the largest universities in the country, with more than 65,000 students. The metropolitan area of College Station/Bryan has nearly 180,000 residents, and is consistently ranked among the best places to live in the country, with an affordable cost of living and easy access to major Texas cities, including Austin and Houston.

Texas A&M University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action/Veterans/Disability Employer.

To apply for this position, please visit:

For more information, please contact Ed Vargo (ed.vargo@tamu.edu). If you need assistance in applying for this job, please contact (979) 845-2423.

Posted 16/4/2020

Volunteer field assistant for navigational research with desert ants in Tunisia

No deadline given

Navigation plays a major role in animal behaviour. The desert ant Cataglyphis fortis, inhabiting the open salt pans, has an extraordinary navigational system which guides it during its long-lasting foraging trips. The ant uses a so called path integration vector that, based on a sun compass and a step counter calculates the ant's relative position to the nest. In addition, homing ants learn and use visual and olfactory cues to finally pinpoint their nest entrance.

Our group explores the role of olfaction in the behaviour of Cataglyphis fortis ants. While we could already show, that the ants use food and nest odours for pinpointing their targets, and learn olfactory landmarks to navigate between nest and food, we will now explore, whether and how olfaction regulates the high aggression between neighbouring ant colonies. The project includes fieldwork in a Tunisian saltpan where we investigate the behaviour of ants in their natural environment (from mid-June to mid-August 2020). We will stay at a fisherman's town called Mahar's and drive daily to a desiccated salt lake where we perform our experiments (approx. 60 km from Mahar's). Based on the level of interest, the field assistance may also be expanded to a master's or bachelor's thesis.

These requirements should be fulfilled: Heat and sun resistant, fit enough for exhaustive days in the salt pan, interested in insects and animal behaviour. A driving license would be good but is not a necessary condition. We offer in exchange a rare possibility to gain fieldwork experience and an intense insight in the field of behavioural biology of the fascinating desert ant Cataglyphis fortis. We cover travel costs and accommodation (for a minimum of four weeks stay however, longer is desirable).

In case of interest, please contact:

Dr. Markus Knaden
Department of Evolutionary Neuroethology
Max-Planck-Institut for Chemical Ecology
Hans-Knoell-Strasse 8,
Jena, Germany

Posted 19/3/2020

Vacancies will be advertised on this page until the closing date for applications, or, where no firm closing date is given, for a maximum of 3 months. If a position has been filled in the meantime, please let the webmaster know.

This site is maintained and promoted on the Internet by David Nash. email to: DRNash @ bio.ku.dk
Last modified Thursday, June 18, 2020