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Postdoctoral Research Associate: Comparative Genomics


We invite applications for a postdoctoral Research Associate position in the Department of Zoology in Central Cambridge on Downing Street with Dr Stephen Montgomery's research group. It is funded for up to 36 months by the ERC and should start on 1st February 2018 or soon after.

The PDRA will study comparative genomics and the genetic basis of mushroom body expansion in Heliconius butterflies. We have recently confirmed previous reports that Heliconius have massively expanded mushroom bodies, an insect learning and memory centre (see Montgomery et al. 2016 J. Comp. Neurol. 524 (9):1747-1769). This provides a novel case study for investigating the genetic basis of volumetric expansion of 'higher order' brain regions. We are interested in using comparative genomics and transcriptomics, in combination with extensive phylogenetic, neuroanatomical and developmental work, to identify genes that contribute to changes in mushroom body size, structure and function.

Duties will include:

  • Designing and building bioinformatics pipelines to carry out de novo genome and transcriptome assemblies, using a combination of sequencing technologies;
  • Designing and executing genome/transcriptome assembly, orthology detection;
  • Performing evolutionary analyses to investigate gene-phenotype associations, adaptive molecular evolution and gene duplication, differential expression and regulatory evolution;
  • Data management;
  • Analysing and writing up the results;
  • Contributing to the wider research environment. There is scope for the nature of the analyses to be shaped by the interests of the candidate.

Required skills and qualifications:

  • PhD in an appropriate subject (e.g. comparative/evolutionary genomics, computational biology or bioinformatics, etc.).
  • An enthusiasm for comparative genomics and an excellent understanding of key methodologies and challenges of the field;
  • Experience with large genome/transcriptome datasets;
  • Excellent programming and data management skills;
  • An interest in brain and behavioural evolution, or phylogenetic tests of gene-phenotype associations;
  • Ambition and drive, strong work ethic and good interpersonal skills and a strong publication record for their career stage;
  • Enthusiasm to interact with colleagues;
  • Ability to organise time and work effectively, independently and responsibly in a research team setting.

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available for up to 36 months in the first instance.

To apply online for this vacancy, please click on the 'Apply' button below. This will route you to the University's Web Recruitment System, where you will need to register an account (if you have not already) and log in before completing the online application form.

Please quote reference PF14258 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

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Further information

Apply online