University of Cambridge

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Research Associate: Genetic architecture of brain evolution during ecological divergence (Fixed Term)

The morphological evolution group in the Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge is looking for an enthusiastic and dedicated postdoc to work on our NERC funded project, 'Genetic architecture of brain evolution during ecological divergence'.

This NERC-funded project aims to to reveal the nature of genetic variation facilitating brain evolution between ecologically divergent cichlid fishes to test the extent, nature and conservation of genetic associations among brain components. We are working on intraspecific variation and interspecific crosses between cichlid fish, to quantify and genetically map variation in brain composition. Alongside this, we will identify key developmental periods where trajectories of brain structure divide, providing a foundation to confirm the causative effects of genes implicated in brain evolution, and to examine how changes in the development of one structure impact another. The position is based at the Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, but will also work in collaboration with Dr. Stephen Montgomery and a post-doc in his group at the School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol.

The successful candidate will compare brain development between species of cichlid fish, to identify when and how brain developmental trajectories diverge. For this purpose, the candidate will use HCR in situ hybridisation, antibody stainings and confocal imaging. Once key developmental stages are identified, the candidate will perform comparative transcriptomics using developing brain tissues to identify candidate genes associated with intra- and inter-specific variation. Finally, the candidate will functionally validate promising genes (identified both in the RNAseq and genetic mapping experiments) using CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing tools.

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available for up to 27 months.

Applications are welcome from internal candidates who would like to apply for the role on the basis of a secondment from their current role in the University.

Flexible working requests will be considered.

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.

If you have any queries regarding the application process please contact Anastasia Nezhentseva at (

Please quote reference PF34233 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