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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 Sunday, August 18, 2019

Overview of vacancies on this page:

2 Postdocs: The Evolutionary Genomics of a Major Transition in Evolution, U.K. / U.S.A & Canadamicr

Postdoc: Social Amoebae, Washington University in St. Louis

PhD: Adaptation and coevolution in the Myrmica - Maculinea teleius system, Warsaw

PhD studentships, IST, Austria

PhD Opportunity, Ant-inspired robotics, Macquarie University, Sydney

Volunteer field assistant: buzz pollination in South Africa, Stirling

2 Postdocs: The Evolutionary Genomics of a Major Transition in Evolution, U.K. / U.S.A & Canada

We are seeking two postdocs to work on a project entitled: “The evolutionary genomics of a major transition in evolution”. This is a collaborative project across three labs: Dr Seirian Sumner’s in University College London, UK, Dr Sandra Rehan’s in York Univ. Toronto, Canada and Dr Amy Toth’s in Iowa State Univ., USA. It is a dual-funded grant, awarded by NERC (Natural Environment and Research Council, UK) and NSF (National Science Foundation, USA)

What’s it all about?
Over 20 years ago, eight major transitions in evolution that explain the emergence of biological complexity were defined, one of which is the evolution of sociality (or superorganismality). Significant advances have been made in understanding the theory underpinning major evolutionary transitions; however, we lack an integrated understanding of the evolutionary patterns and processes of the major transitions. Through this project, we have formulated a new predictive framework on the molecular processes underpinning major transitions; the predictions of this framework will be tested empirically using multi-level genomic analyses of sociality in 16 species of bees and wasps.

What we’re looking for
The project is mostly computational, involving large-scale comparative genomic and transcriptomic analyses of bee and wasp species that span the stages of the major evolutionary transition from solitary to social living. Most of the datasets are already complete (and those that are not will be complete by end of 2019), allowing the postdoctoral team to get cracking in analysing data to test hypotheses on how major transitions arise at the level of the genes. The successful candidates will be evolutionary biologists with proven track-records in the use of genomic analyses and bioinformatics to address broad evolutionary questions. An in-depth knowledge of social insects and social evolution is not a pre-requisite, but a curiosity about these topics, and a willingness to learn about how and why they evolved, is essential.

Some things you need to know
The two postdocs will work concurrently (on 30 months contracts), one based in the UK at UCL, and the other in the USA, at ISU and in Canada, at York University. However, both postdocs will work collaboratively and enjoy considerable mobility between the labs of all three Investigators. These positions, therefore, present excellent opportunities for networking in three countries and world-class institutions and their respective lab groups. The positions are available from Sept 2019; successful candidates must be in post by end of Nov 2019 at the latest.

Deadlines are mid-August:
Apply here for the UK job - Deadline 17 August 2019.
Apply here for the US job - Deadline 29 August 2019.

Candidates will be invited for interview in early Sept. In the meantime, if this sound like a project you’d like to be involved with, please drop us a line and we can tell you more about the roles.

Dr Seirian Sumner s.sumner@ucl.ac.uk
Dr Sandra Rehan sanrehan@yorku.ca
Dr Amy Toth amytoth@iastate.edu

Dr Seirian Sumner | Reader in Behavioural Ecology
Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research
Dept. Genetics, Evolution and Environment | University College London
Gower Street |London WC1E 6BT
(+44) 020 3108 7851 | @WaspWoman
http://www.sumnerlab.co.uk/ | www.ucl.ac.uk/cber
http://www.soapboxscience.org/ | http://www.bigwaspsurvey.org/

Posted 30/7/2019

Postdoc: Social Amoebae, Washington University in St. Louis

Postdoctoral position on amoeba social evolution and/or amoeba–bacteria symbiosis

This position is for research in the Queller-Strassmann group. We focus on the evolution of interactions, especially in the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum. This has become a model system for the evolution of cooperation and conflict and the transition to multicellularity. We are also working on its symbiotic bacterial partners sometimes confer a farming advantage but also impose costs.

The position is in the biology department at Washington University in St. Louis and is available immediately but the starting date is negotiable.

David Queller and Joan Strassmann lead a friendly and interactive team of highly motivated, creative, and smart investigators. We are interested in your success and in a collaborative and productive approach to research and mentoring. We are seeking energetic postdocs with strong backgrounds some combination of evolutionary biology, social behavior, microbial evolution, genomics, or in methodologies appropriate to the system. We are also open to great ideas from you within the general area of social evolution using the microbial organisms we study We are committed to diversity and to the career success of our team members. Check out our website, (http://strassmannandquellerlab.wordpress.com/) for more information on our lab, or Strassmann’s blog (http://sociobiology.wordpress.com).

If you are interested in joining our group, please send an email to Joan Strassmann (Strassmann@wustl.edu) with a single file including CV, statement of research interests, and the names, phone numbers, and email addresses of three references. Women and underrepresented minorities are particularly encouraged to apply. We will begin reviewing applications by 20 August 2019 and will continue to accept them until the position is filled. Postdocs may start immediately but date is negotiable.

Posted 30/7/2019

PhD: Adaptation and coevolution in the Myrmica - Maculinea teleius system, Warsaw

PhD position - Museum and Institute of Zoology, Polish Academy of Sciences

We are looking for highly motivated PhD student to participate in the project: “Adaptations and ongoing co-evolution: the case of source and reintroduced populations of obligatory myrmecophilous butterfly Maculinea teleius”. The project will be carried out at the Museum and Institute of Zoology, Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, Poland under supervision of Dr Magdalena Witek and Dr Luca P. Casacci. The project is financed by the National Science Centre, which ensures a PhD student with a monthly tax-free research stipend of 4500 PLN for three years.

Project description: Myrmica ants are the hosts of many organisms of various taxa, including socially parasitic Maculinea butterflies whose larvae complete their development inside ant nests. In 1990 a successful reintroduction of Maculinea teleius was performed in the Netherlands where Polish butterflies were translocated. Such difference of almost 30 butterfly generations between the source Polish and the reintroduced Dutch population offers unique opportunity to study the local adaptations of M. teleius butterflies to their host ants and to detect ongoing co-evolution processes between parasite and host populations. We plan to study genetic structure of M. teleius source and reintroduced populations. Also, morphometric parameters of adult butterflies will be analysed. To test adoption and survival success of M. teleius larvae coming from different populations we will perform behavioral experiments in the laboratory. We will study cuticular hydrocarbons (CHC) profiles of M. teleius larvae and their Myrmica host ants.

Requirements: Successful candidates should have a Master’s degree in Biology/Ecology. The candidate should have a strong background in evolutionary biology and animal behaviour. Experience in behavioural ecology of invertebrates (mostly social insects and/or butterflies), genetic or CHC profile analysis and statistics will be an additional asset. The candidate should have very good oral and written communication skills in English.

Work description: Successful candidate will collect field data, perform genetic analysis of microsatellites, analysis of morphological traits of adult Maculinea butterflies, CHC profiles of ants and butterfly larvae and perform behavioural experiments. The study will be carried out within international team and data will be collected in Poland, Netherland and Romania. CHC chemical profiles will be analysed in Paris University (at prof. Patrizia d’Ettorre’s laboratory). The PhD student will be guided by members of our team and encouraged to develop own ideas.

Application: The candidates are asked to contact dr Magdalena Witek (mwitek@miiz.waw.pl) attaching a single PDF file with: 1) a cover letter describing the motivation and research experiences, 2) CV 3) copy of MSc certificate and 4) names and contact details of two references.

Deadline for applications is 25th August, 2019.

  1. In the first stage, selected candidates will be contacted by e-mail to define a date for interview which will take place at Museum and Institute of Zoology, in Warsaw or eventually by skype.
  2. In the second stage (middle of September 2019) the successful candidate will take part in the exam of the BioPlanet Doctoral School (http://szkoladoktorska-bioplanet.pl/en/home/).
  3. Starting date: 1st October, 2019

Posted 30/7/2019

PhD studentships, IST, Austria

The Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) is looking for highly qualified candidates to apply for our PhD program. We offer fully-funded PhD positions in the natural and mathematical sciences in a world-class research environment on the outskirts of Vienna. The research groups that might interest evolutionary biologists include:

Nick Barton: Evolutionary theory/Analysis of a snapdragon hybrid zone
Sylvia Cremer: Social immunity
Calin Guet: Systems and synthetic biology of genetic networks
Max Jösch: Neuroethology
Gasper Tkaèik: Evolution of gene regulation
Beatriz Vicoso: Sex chromosome evolution
Fyodor Kondrashov: Evolutionary genomics

Our PhD program is characterized by innovative training with a special focus on interdisciplinarity, close mentoring by outstanding faculty within small research groups, and access to first-rate facilities. Students spend the first year completing coursework and rotations before choosing a thesis group and passing the qualifying exam. Our PhD graduates have gone on to top positions in academia and industry all over the world.

Students with a bachelor's or master's degree in a relevant field are encouraged to apply. We offer internationally competitive salaries, full health benefits, and subsidized on-campus housing in the first year.

For more information about the PhD program and application process, as well as faculty profiles, please visit our website at http://phd.pages.ist.ac.at, or come to our Student Open Day on November 22nd 2019.

The deadline for PhD applications is January 8th 2020 for a start date in September 2020.

Posted 30/7/2019

PhD Opportunity, Ant-inspired robotics, Macquarie University, Sydney

Are you interested in pursuing an exciting PhD project on a unique ant species, at a supportive, world-class institution in a beautiful part of the world?

I am looking for a highly motivated PhD student to participate in our project "Ant-inspired rules for self-assembly in swarm robotics and complex systems" at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. This is a fixed term-position for three years (at standard PhD stipend rate - $27,000 per year), funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC). Highly competitive international students have the chance to apply for an additional tuition fee waiver from Macquarie University.

Project description:
This Project aims to investigate self-assembly in weaver ants (Oecophylla smaragdina) – where individual workers join their bodies together using simple rules at the individual-level to build complex structures at the group-level. Using a state-of-the-art computer-vision tracking system, you will uncover the rules used by individual ants that lead to a range of functional self-assembled structures, by inducing colonies to form bridges, hanging chains and pulling chains in the laboratory and performing detailed behavioural analyses on the individual workers. The candidate will work with an international network of collaborators, including world experts in computer science, who will assist in building a modelling framework of analytical and simulation-based computer models derived from the ant behavioural rules. The models will be directly translated into novel swarm robotics control algorithms, which will be used to achieve two outcomes: i) testing whether the derived behavioural rules lead to successful self-assembly of the desired structure in a physical robot swarm, and; ii) upgrading robot swarms with ant-like capabilities of self-assembling into a variety of functional structures as needed, using a minimum of local information and no prior planning. The candidate will have the opportunity to test their findings on a brand new robot swarm purchased under this grant, and collaborate with world leaders in robotics.

Successful candidates will have a Masters degree or equivalent in biology or a related field (high-performing Honours graduates are also encouraged to apply), good knowledge/experience in invertebrate behaviour, and an interest in biological complex systems. Candidates with strong interest in robotics, agent-based modelling and/or programming are highly desirable, though this is not essential. The ideal candidate will have very good oral and written communication skills in English.

The position is currently open, so please contact Dr. Chris Reid as soon as possible, email: chris.reid@mq.edu.au

Applications should be a single pdf including a cover letter describing the motivation, previous research activities and current research interests, a CV with copies of BSc and MSc certificates, details of at least 2 referees and a list of publications if applicable.

Dr Chris R. Reid
ARC DECRA Research Fellow, Department of Biological Sciences
Macquarie University, NSW 2109, Australia
e-mail: chrisreidresearch@gmail.com / chris.reid@mq.edu.au
website: https://chrisrreid.wordpress.com
phone: +61 2 9850 6270

Posted 3/6/2019

Volunteer field assistant: buzz pollination in South Africa, Stirling

The Plant Evolution group at the University of Stirling (UK) is seeking a highly motivated, detail-oriented assistant for fieldwork in the Cape mountains (South Africa) during austral Spring 2019 (September/October).

PROJECT: Many plant species use pollen as reward for pollinators. Some species have evolved a complex mechanism where pollen is contained within closed (i.e. poricidal) anthers, and bees need to vibrate the anthers at particular frequencies for the pollen to be released. This buzz pollination syndrome has been recorded in 6-8% of all plant species. However, in the hyperdiverse Cape Floristic Region (CFR), this syndrome is markedly underrepresented (0.003% of plant species), despite the presence of some buzz pollinated plants that are endemic to the CFR. We will be conducting the first quantitative study on buzz pollination interactions in the CFR. Particularly, we will construct plant-pollinator interaction networks, measure various plant traits, and record the vibrations of sonicating bees.

LOCATION: Cape Town, South Africa. The field sites will mostly be located in the Cederberg mountains and around Nieuwoudtville. During Spring, these areas are transformed into carpets of colour when the world's most predictable mass flowering display occurs. Nieuwoudtville also boasts the highest diversity of geophytes (including Orchidaceae and Iridaceae) in the world, and it is an excellent place for botanising, hiking, and birding. We will be staying in small cabins or camping, and we will regularly move between field sites. The work will involve hiking and long hours in the field, as well as processing samples in the evenings.

DUTIES: The successful applicant will be expected to assist with pollinator observations, trait measurements, data entry, and collecting flowers and pollinators in the field.

QUALIFICATIONS: Suitable candidates should be hardworking, organized, and independent. Experience in identifying plants and pollinators, recording pollinator visitation rates, and experience with field-based projects is preferred. Temperatures in this region can be quite high (30C), and candidates should be prepared to spend a lot of time in the sun.

WE OFFER food, accommodation and travel within South Africa. However, we unfortunately cannot offer a further stipend.

PERIOD: mid-September to mid-October 2019

Please send your questions and applications asap to Dr Jurene Kemp (jurene.kemp@stir.ac.uk). To apply, send a cover letter (that includes your background and interests) and your CV. References will be requested at a later stage.

Posted 3/6/2019

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.

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Last modified Sunday, August 18, 2019