PhD Candidate to study plant evolution on islands

One PhD position is available within the project “​Island biogeography reloaded: using phylogenies to understand speciation and anthropogenic extinction”, funded by a Dutch Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), VIDI grant awarded to Luis Valente (Naturalis Biodiversity Center and University of Groningen). 

We have a position available for a PhD Candidate to study plant evolution on islands for 36 hours a week and a period of 1 year.

 


 

Job
Description

One PhD position is available within the project “​Island biogeography reloaded: using phylogenies to understand speciation and anthropogenic extinction”, funded by a Dutch Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), VIDI grant awarded to Luis Valente (Naturalis Biodiversity Center and University of Groningen). 
 
Asteraceae (daisy family) is the largest plant family in the world, including over 1,000 species endemic to islands. Daisies are an ideal group to investigate the dynamics of insular diversification because several islands have multiple colonisations and independent radiations. The PhD candidate will produce and compile phylogenies representing complete Asteraceae floras from selected islands worldwide in order to understand how island features and ecological interactions regulate Asteraceae species colonisation and diversification on islands on a global scale. Field trips will be undertaken to archipelagos requiring most intensive sampling of native Asteraceae taxa. The student will produce new DNA sequence data using hybrid enrichment combined with high-throughput sequencing and will conduct extensive bioinformatic and phylogenetic analyses based on these data. The resulting datasets will be analysed using the DAISIE island biogeography model. The candidate will also analyse relevant macroecological and island physical data.
 
The daily supervisor (at Naturalis in Leiden) will be Dr. Luis Valente. Within Naturalis, the PhD candidate will be part of the Understanding Evolution Group, which includes several researchers and students working on the evolution of biodiversity. Prof. Rampal Etienne (University of Groningen) will be the co-promotor, and the candidate will visit Prof. Etienne’s group in Groningen regularly. The student will be enrolled in the Graduate School of Science and Engineering of the University of Groningen, where the doctoral degree will be registered. The project involves collaboration with the Royal Botanic Garden Madrid (Prof. Pablo Vargas), Royal Botanic Gardens Kew (Dr. Felix Forest) and the University of Göttingen (Prof. Holger Kreft and Dr. Patrick Weigelt). 
 

General requirements
and skills

The successful candidate should hold a Master’s degree (at the start of the contract) in a relevant discipline (Biological Sciences) with a demonstrated interest and experience in a relevant field in evolutionary biology or biogeography, as well as prior experience in one or more of the techniques outlined in the job description. Holding a valid driver’s license is required for the fieldwork. Ideally, the candidate has: 
- Experience with (or willingness to learn) bioinformatics techniques required to analyse genomic and phylogenetic datasets produced using high-throughput sequencing;
- Willingness to travel abroad and conduct botanical fieldwork on tropical/subtropical locations; the fieldwork will be physically demanding and require hiking in areas with difficult terrain;
- Interest in botany (including species identification in taxonomically difficult groups), evolution and biogeography;
- Excellent command of the English language (verbal and written);
- Excellent organizational skills.
 

What
we offer

An employment contract (36 hours per week) for a period of one year, to be extended with three years after successful first-year evaluation. A salary of circa € 2.771,= gross per month, circa 37.000 gross per year. The successful candidate will be employed by Naturalis in Leiden. Naturalis Biodiversity Center offers an inspiring working atmosphere with effective and efficient supervision of our PhD candidates. Our Research Coordination Office also provides ample support to our scientific staff. Naturalis promotes gender equality and wants to enhance the diversity of staff members. Feel free to contact Dr. Luis Valente with questions about the position, luis.valente@naturalis.nl. 

Procedure

Applicants are invited to submit their application as a single pdf, including a cover letter, scientific CV and contact information of two individuals who could provide an evaluation of the candidate upon request before the 15th of August to the application form. The interviews are scheduled for the 25th of September.