University of Cambridge

Job Opportunities


Postdoctoral Research Associate: Evolution of social life histories (Fixed Term)

A post-doctoral research associate position is available in the Department of Zoology from 1 October 2021 or as soon as possible thereafter, to work with Professor Rufus Johnstone on mathematical and computational modelling of the evolution of sex differences in mammalian social life histories.

The PDRA will work on the development of models that explore kinship dynamics in social groups, and their implications for the evolution of sex differences in behaviour and life history traits. We are interested in how patterns of relatedness change across the lifespan in each sex under different patterns of dispersal and mating, the consequences of these kinship dynamics for patterns of helping and harming in social groups, and their impact on early/late-life trade-offs between fecundity and survival. There is, however, scope for the focus of the modelling to reflect the interests of the candidate.

This work will be carried out as part of a NERC-funded project, in collaboration with Prof Darren Croft, Prof Michael Cant, Dr Thomas Currie and Dr Samuel Ellis at the University of Exeter, and Dr Daniel Franks at the University of York. The wider project will involve collection of data on age-specific patterns of cooperative and competitive behaviour in resident killer whales, which will be used to inform development of the models and to test their predictions, as well as comparative analysis of sex differences in life history traits across social mammals.

Duties will include developing models of kinship dynamics, social behaviour and life history evolution, using a combination of game theoretical and adaptive dynamic techniques, possibly supplemented by individual-based simulations, and analysing and writing up the results.

The successful applicant should have a PhD in an appropriate subject (e.g. mathematical biology), involving a substantial element of mathematical or computational modelling and demonstrated record in written (i.e. scientific journals) and oral (i.e. professional conferences) communication relevant to evolutionary and mathematical biology.

We welcome applications from individuals who wish to be considered for part-time working or other flexible working arrangements.

We particularly welcome applications from women and /or candidates from a BME background for this vacancy as they are currently under-represented at this level in our University.

Click the 'Apply' button below to register an account with our recruitment system (if you have not already) and apply online.

Please see Further Particulars for other requirements.

Informal enquiries can be directed to Prof Johnstone,

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available up until 30 June 2023

Please quote reference PF28056 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

The University actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion and encourages applications from all sections of society.

The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.

Further information

Apply online