Prospective Students and Postdoctoral Researchers

We are always keen to recruit dynamic and scientifically motivated researchers to the lab. We often have positions advertised on this page but if you have your own ideas please do get in touch at any time and I would be happy to discuss options with you for joining the group.

Currently available positions in the lab

Exciting two-year postdoctoral scholarship available (deadline 20th September 2022):

Expulsion events as drivers of evolution in endosymbiotic systems using corals as a model system 

 

The postdoctoral scholar will be based at Umeå University in Sweden, home of the pioneering discovery of CRISPR-Cas9 genetic scissors - a revolution in genetic engineering that has been awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Symbioses are prevalent across many biomes and can be critical to the biodiversity, productivity and survival of some of the most charismatic ecosystems on earth. However, sometimes these symbioses break down; this may be survivable for the individual partners but can also lead to widespread death of both host and symbiont. The evolutionary implications of these symbiotic breakdowns are debated, however, evidence is emerging that they may function in enhancing individual and community fitness via holobiont acclimation and adaptation. Here we use coral reefs as a model system but our results and approach may have broad applicability across other systems where host-symbiont interactions are dynamic including lichens, fig-wasps, and human gut microbiomes.

The disastrous consequences of coral bleaching over the last 20 years are well-known although the evolutionary significance of these bleaching events is less known. Despite the destruction bleaching causes, there is some evidence that given enough time, bleaching events may provide scope for acclimation and adaptation of the holobiont to survive in a warmer world. However, to date, while geologic data point to this process,  there is a paucity of available data on the evolutionary and adaptive processes themselves. Therefore, we cannot determine realistic trajectories of coral survival in a warmer world. This project will use symmetry methods, a novel mathematical approach, to explore the range of biological mechanisms and evolutionary scenarios that could give rise to the same observed bleaching phenomena and use this fresh approach to probe the scope for coral survival to the end of the century using bleaching as the mechanism.

We propose the development of a novel mathematical approach, based on symmetry transformations of differential equations, to investigate invariants and equivalence classes of models describing the co-evolution in endosymbiotic systems. Together with the Fellow, we will develop biophysically informed models of endosymbiotic dynamics and co-evolution and use them to explore the range of possible biological mechanisms governing these processes. We will emphasize the role and dynamics of expulsion events and apply this modelling paradigm to the problem of coral bleaching.

This postdoc will be placed in the Integrated Science Lab (IceLab), hosted by the Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, the Department of Mathematics and Mathematical Sciences and also the Umeå Marine Sciences Centre. They will be supervised by a multidisciplinary team with complementing expertise in coral symbiosis breakdown, symmetry methods and marine ecology.

 

Specific Qualifications

To qualify for the fellowship, the candidate should have a PhD degree, or a foreign degree that is deemed equivalent, in one of the following fields: mathematics, bioinformatics, ecology/biology with a mathematical focus, or physics. The candidate would also benefit from a broad understanding of marine ecosystems.

The ideal candidate has strong skills in mathematical modelling and analysis, in particular using systems of differential equations, and a good understanding of the biological processes involved in symbiotic dynamics. Experience of modelling population dynamics and evolution, as well as using symmetry methods for differential equations are merits. Skill areas: building and implementing mathematical and statistical models.

The applicant also needs to have excellent skills in modern computer programming languages (e.g. C++, Python, MATLAB or R) preferably combined with a familiarity with handling genomic data.

 

Contact Information

Professor Nick Kamenos, Dept. Ecology and Environmental Sciences / Umeå Marine Sciences Centre, nick.kamenos@umu.se and associate professor Fredrik Ohlsson, Dept. Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics, fredrik.ohlsson@umu.se

 

Application process

The Integrated Science Lab at Umeå University, jointly with several departments at Umeå University and the Swedish Agricultural University are offering three Postdoctoral Scholarships that will be affiliated with one of six possible multidisciplinary projects. This project (Expulsion events as drivers of evolution in endosymbiotic systems) is one of the 6 multidisciplinary projects on offer. Full details of the application process are available here.

Application deadline: 20th September 2022