PhD position in Experimental Evolution

100%, Zurich, temporary
The recently formed group of Dr. Macarena Toll-Riera is seeking a PhD student to study bacterial adaptation to environmental changes through the combination of experimental and high-throughput sequencing approaches. We are hosted at the Institute of Integrative Biology, in the Professorship of Evolutionary Biology.

Project background

Environments are under constant change and one of the main strategies that organisms have to respond to these changes is through evolutionary adaptations. Although evolutionary adaptations have been studied for long time, the genetic bases underpinning them are still not fully understood.

Most research done to understand how organisms adapt to changes in their environments has been done using model organisms. In this project, instead, we propose to study this question using a bacterium isolated from Antarctica. To survive to the harsh conditions found in cold environments, this bacterium has a unique set of adaptations that makes it a very interesting model organism to study the molecular mechanisms that can facilitate, or limit, adaptation to novel environments.

Job description

The candidate will investigate the role that enzyme promiscuity and large genome duplications have on facilitating adaptation to environmental changes. As a proxy to environmental change, she/he will use a large array of carbon sources and will perform laboratory evolution experiments to challenge bacteria to adapt to novel environments. She/he will couple laboratory evolution experiments to next generation sequencing to disentangle which genetic changes are underlying adaptation.

We offer 4 years of funding and being part of a small, but collaborative and dynamic group. We are hosted at the Institute of Integrative Biology, ETH Zurich. The candidate will benefit from a vibrant and interdisciplinary academic environment with excellent opportunities for education, training and collaboration. Aside from the high quality of life, Zurich provides easy access to outdoor activities.

Your profile

The successful candidate should hold a master degree in a relevant area such as evolutionary biology, microbiology or genomics, have a genuine interest in evolutionary biology and have a good command of English. Wet-lab experience, ideally in microbiology, programming skills and experience in analysing next-generation sequencing data are an asset.

The candidate should be highly motivated, enthusiastic, curious and able to work independently, but also as a team member.

ETH Zurich

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.
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Interested?

We look forward to receiving your application with the following documents: motivation letter, CV, academic records, and contact information for 2-3 potential references. Please send your application (one single PDF file) by email to Macarena Toll-Riera at macarena.toll@env.ethz.ch. We will start to revise applications on the 20th of December, until the position is filled.

Starting date: preferably February-March 2020.

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