Postdoctoral fellowship in Computational Evolutionary Morphometrics at the Globe Institute

  • Contract
  • Denmark

University of Copenhagen

We are offering a Postdoctoral fellowship in Computational Evolutionary Morphology commencing 1 January 2024 or as soon as possible thereafter.

Our group and research
This project will be carried out at the Center for Computational Evolutionary Morphometrics (CCEM ) – a new interdisciplinary group for development of phylogenetic comparative methods to analyse biological form. The center is led by Stefan Sommer (UCPH), Rasmus Nielsen (UCPH, Berkeley), Mads Nielsen (UCPH) and Christy Hipsley (UCPH). CCEM is physically located in Copenhagen, but with strong links to University of California, Berkeley. Therefore the successful candidate should expect to participate in visits and research stays at UC Berkeley. This position will be housed at the Globe Institute, section for GeoGenetics: , which is part of the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences (SUND).

Project description
Organismal morphology is studied in biology to decode evolutionary relationships among lineages, test hypotheses in the context of phylogenies, and determine how traits are selected through time. The Stochastic Morphometry project aims to develop statistical models of phenotypic change, thereby making phylogenetic inference tools applicable for the study of shape evolution. The aim is to develop an entirely new framework for phylogenetic analyses that treat the full 2D or 3D shape, such as the 2D shape of butterfly wings or the 3D shape of mammalian skulls, as evolving objects along branches of a phylogenetic tree.

This position will focus on developing computational methods to map genotype-phenotype interactions in birds (Aves), focused on genomic and 3D skeletal data. With over 10,000 living species, birds have evolved an extraordinary array of shapes adapted to specific diets and foraging behaviours. Our aim is to identify genomic regions that correlate with shape variation, to understand the contexts under which phenotypes evolve, and the tempo and mode of evolutionary change. For example, the successful candidate will have access to 3D surface scans and landmark datafor beaks of thousands of birds from , which will be integrated with genomic data collected by the Bird 10,000 Genome Project (B10K ) led by our collaborator, Professor Guojie Zhang.Similarly, skeletal CT data for hundreds of bird species are available on , allowing the development of full body models of avian phenotypic evolution.

The project will be carried out in close collaboration with researchers working on the mathematics of differential geometry and shape transformation, and biologists working on applied phylogenetics (~15 group members).

Principal supervisor isAssociate Professor Christy Hipsley, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, E-mail: [email protected] , Phone +45 52617701. Co-supervisor is Professor RasmusNielsen, Globe Institute, University of Copenhagen, E-mail: [email protected] , Phone +1 (510) 643 4993.

Start date: 1 January 2024 or as soon as possible thereafter.

This is a 2-year position administered by the Globe Institute, funded by a Villum Synergy grant for Stochastic Morphometry: Evolutionary Modelling of Whole Shape Data to PIs Stefan Sommer and Rasmus Nielsen.

Job description
Your key tasks as a postdoctoral fellow at SUND are:

  • Complete an independent research project
  • Participate in active research environments including CCEM workshops, conferences, and visits to UC Berkeley
  • Train and share knowledge with other members of the CCEM team
  • Teach and disseminate research findings to scientific and other communities
  • Write and publish paper(s) on the grounds of your project

Key criteria for the assessment of applicants
Applicants must have a PhD degree in biology or other discipline related to the subject area of the project, e.g. Computer Science or Bioinformatics, with practical experience working with morphological and/or genomic data.

Other important criteria are:

  • Knowledge of Phylogenetics, Stochastic Processes, Bioinformatics, Evolutionary Biology, and Morphology
  • Knowledge of bird biology
  • Solid programming experience in Python, R, C/C++ or similar languages
  • Previous documented research experience in phylogenetics and/or morphology
  • Previous publications
  • Other professional activities including outreach and work on diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • A curious mind-set with a strong interest in applying advanced mathematics, statistics and computer science techniques in biologi
  • Good English language skills, both orally and written

The University wishes our staff to reflect the diversity of society and thus welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background.

Place of employment
The place of employment is at the Globe Institute, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. We offer creative and stimulating working conditions in dynamic and international research environment. The successful applicant will be housed together with other PhD students and postdocs in the interdisciplinary Center for Computational Evolutionary Morphometrics (CCEM), located in the Observatory in the Botanical Garden (Øster Voldgade 3 ), near Nørreport Station in central Copenhagen.   

Terms of employment
Salary, pension and other conditions of employment are set in accordance with the Agreement between the Ministry of Taxation and AC (Danish Confederation of Professional Associations) or other relevant organisation. Depending on qualifications, a supplement may be negotiated. The employer will pay an additional 17.1 % to your pension fund.

Foreign and Danish applicants may be eligible for tax reductions, if they hold a PhD degree and have not lived in Denmark the last 10 years.

The position is covered by the Job Structure for Academic Staff at Universities 2020.

For specific information about the postdoctoral position, please contact the project PI RasmusNielsen ([email protected] ) or co-PI Christy Hipsley ([email protected] ).

General information about working and living in Copenhagen can be found at the Globe Institute’s website: .

Application procedure
The application, in English, must be submitted electronically by clicking ‘Apply now’ below. The application must include the following documents in PDF format: 

1. Motivated letter of application (max. one page)

2. CV incl. education, experience, language skills and other skills relevant for the position

3. Copies of MSc and PhD diplomas, including an authorized English translation if issued in other language than English or Danish. If the PhD is not completed, a signed statement from the institution or supervisor stating the date of completion is accepted.

4. Research plan – description of current and future research plans.

5. Complete publication list.

6. Separate reprints of 3 particularly relevant papers.

Application deadline:  24 October 2023, 23.59pm CET

We reserve the right not to consider material received after the deadline, and not to consider applications that do not live up to the abovementioned requirements.

The further process
After the expiry of the deadline for applications, the authorized recruitment manager selects applicants for assessment on the advice of the hiring committee. All applicants are then immediately notified whether their application has been passed for assessment by an unbiased assessor.

The assessor makes a non-prioritized assessment of the academic qualifications and experience with respect to the above-mentioned area of research, techniques, skills and other requirements listed in the advertisement.

Once the assessment work has been completed, each applicant has the opportunity to comment on the part of the assessment that relates to the applicant him/herself.

You find information about the recruitment process at: .

The applicants will be assessed according to the Ministerial Order no. 242 of 13 March 2012 on the Appointment of Academic Staff at Universities.

The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences comprises approximately 7500 students, 1500 PhD students and 3200 employees. The Faculty advances the field of health sciences through its core activities: research, teaching, knowledge sharing and communication. With basic research fields ranging from molecular studies to studies of society, the Faculty contributes to a healthy future through its graduates, research findings and inventions benefitting patients and the community. The University of Copenhagen wishes to reflect the surrounding community and invites all regardless of personal background to apply for the position. 

Part of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), and among Europe’s top-ranking universities, the University of Copenhagen promotes research and teaching of the highest international standard. Rich in tradition and modern in outlook, the University gives students and staff the opportunity to cultivate their talent in an ambitious and informal environment. An effective organisation – with good working conditions and a collaborative work culture – creates the ideal framework for a successful academic career.

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