Theory and Metacommunity Dynamics
Three 100% funded PhD (3–4 years) or Postdoc (2+ years) positions are available in the establishing research group of Evolutionary Game Theory led by Professor Xiang-Yi Li Richter at the University of Bern, Switzerland. The positions are part of the Swiss National Science Foundation Starting Grants project “Integrating modeling and experiments to study species coexistence in metacommunities.”
The specific PhD or Postdoc projects will be developed individually and should focus on using a combination of theoretical and empirical approaches to study how coexistence between interacting microbial species/strains can be maintained in spatially heterogeneous and temporally changing metacommunities, such as in soils, fermented foods, and the human gut and skin microbiota.
We aim to answer the following central questions: 1. How do higher-order multi-species biological interactions play out in heterogeneous spatial networks? 2. How do the dispersal network topology and dispersal rate influence the likelihood of coexistence? 3. Does the evolution of traits in each species promote or impede coexistence? Is coexistence more likely when the interacting species coevolve?
One of the three projects will focus on the empirical side, involving experiments with microorganisms (e.g., phage and bacteria interacting on dispersal networks formed by fungal hyphae). The other two projects will be mainly theoretical, involving mathematical modeling, computer simulations, statistics and data analysis.
Candidates must be highly motivated, creative, and able to work independently and collaboratively. Applicants from diverse scientific backgrounds (e.g., physics, mathematics, computer sciences, and biology) are encouraged. In their motivation letters, applicants from outside biology should state why they are interested in the study of ecology and evolution, and applicants from biology should state why they are interested in collaborating with theoreticians. In addition, candidates should explain how their study and research experience links to the central questions of the research project, and why they are interested in studying them. Candidates who intend to work on the empirical side need to have solid experimental skills to work in a microbiology lab. Candidates who intend to work on the theoretical side should have excellent mathematics and programming skills, and ideally, experience working on an HPC cluster.
Candidates need to have good written and spoken communication skills in English, which is the working language of our institute. For the PhD positions, a Master's degree is required. For the Postdoc positions, a PhD degree is required. The positions are open to applicants worldwide. We are committed to increasing diversity, equity, and inclusiveness in evolutionary biology and especially encourage applicants from underrepresented groups.
The desired starting dates are negotiable but ideally between September and December 2023.
The gross salary is around 48K CHF per year for PhD students and 80K CHF per year for postdocs. We offer a stimulating research environment with access to high performance computation facilities, funding for presenting studies at international conferences at least once a year, and unlimited funding for publishing peer-reviewed articles in open access journals. The city of Bern is ideally located in the middle of Switzerland and Europe, and provides rich cultural and outdoor activities.
Contact and application
For informal inquiries regarding the position and for submitting your application, please send an email to Prof. Xiang-Yi Li Richter at [email protected] review of applications will start on March 1st, 2023 until the positions are filled. Applicants must submit one merged PDF file that includes a letter of motivation (max 2 pages), a CV, and names of two referees who have agreed to provide a letter of recommendation if contacted, and copies of relevant publications and/or preprints. Incomplete applications will not be considered.