PhD Candidate in Evolutionary Ecology

WorkplaceDübendorf, Zurich region, Switzerland
CategoryEnvironment / Sustainable Development
Life Sciences
PositionJunior Researcher / PhD Position


Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, is an internationally networked aquatic research institute within the ETH Domain (Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology). Eawag conducts research, education and expert consulting to achieve the dual goals of meeting direct human needs for water and maintaining the function and integrity of aquatic ecosystems.

The Department of Aquatic Ecology seeks

Project title: Host-parasite interactions in hybridizing Daphnia, from correlations to experiments

The PhD candidate will participate in a collaborative research project with PD Dr Piet Spaak (Eawag) and Prof. Justyna Wolinska (Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, IGB in Berlin, Germany), financed by the Swiss and German Science Foundations (SNF & DFG).

Eutrophication is a worldwide environmental problem accelerated by global warming, affecting the stability of aquatic ecosystems and having long - lasting consequences. We will investigate if and how eutrophication affects two interacting evolutionary processes: disease spread and interspecific hybridization. We will use water fleas (Daphnia), a well-established model in both host-parasite and hybridization research. This project is a combination of a field survey, a mesocosm experiment (where trophic conditions will be manipulated), the transcriptional profiling ofDaphnia exposed to stressful eutrophic conditions, and the development and application of molecular markers to study parasite evolution in eutrophic environments. Overall, through the unique combination of expertise and methods, this project will improve our understanding of disease spread and biodiversity loss under different trophic conditions and, consequently, might provide tools for management of aquatic ecosystems.

Within the project this position focuses on interspecific hybridization. The main task will be participation in a large-scale field study and mesocosm experiment; data collection and processing. The student will screen the dynamics of natural and experimental Daphnia communities, using microsatellite and SNP markers. Also, the student will conduct a large laboratory experiment to assessDaphnia stress responses; here, RNA-Seq methods will be applied. The PhD candidate will take advantage of the draftD. galeata genome.

Although the student will be hosted primarily at Eawag, exchange stays are planned at IGB. Moreover, generous funds are available to cover attendance at national and international conferences. He/she will be enrolled at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zürich. The position will be for a period of four years, and should start as soon as possible (spring / early summer 2018).

The ideal candidate should have good molecular skills and a strong background in evolutionary biology, ecology or related fields. In addition, knowledge of statistics, bioinformatics and/or population genetics will be highly advantageous. Excellent communication and writing skills in English, good work ethic, and creative thinking are desired. A Masters Degree (or equivalent) in biology or a related subject is necessary for admission. The working language in the group is English.

Eawag offers a unique research and working environment (?" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"> and is committed to promoting equal opportunities for women and men and to support the compatibility of family and work. Applications from women are especially welcome. For more information about Eawag and our work conditions please consult ?" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">  and ?" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"> .

For further information please consult Dr Piet Spaak ( spaak [at] eawag[.]ch ). The application should be submitted by 1 March 2018.

Please submit your application including a motivation letter with a description of pertinent experience, a complete CV (incl. publication list), the names (with e-mail addresses) of three potential referees, and copies of certificates of academic qualifications via the Eawag Jobs & Career webpage, any other way of applying will not be considered. The link below will take you directly to the application form.

In your application, please refer to
and reference  JobID 38715.

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