PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The selected student will work with Dr. Colin Hughes on a research project entitled “Global Legume diversity patterns: macroevolutionary and ecological processes shaping biodiversity”, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation in the Institute of Systematic Botany at the University of Zürich.

We are interested in how diversity evolves and understanding the processes and factors that determine the spatial distribution of life on Earth. Using comparative approaches and one of the most evolutionary successful families of flowering plants, the legumes (Leguminosae = Fabaceae), as a study system, we are addressing a set of inter-related questions about global plant diversity patterns. We are making use of recent developments in comparative phylogenomics and global-scale species distribution modelling to quantify phylogenetic turnover and the ecological factors underlying patterns of diversity across large-scale ecological gradients.

The PhD projects will focus on specific legume clades, and especially subfamily Mimosoideae, a pantropical clade spanning all lowland tropical biomes and potentially involve fieldwork, laboratory work to generate DNA sequence data using NGS, herbarium specimen database work, and phylogenetic/ macroevolutionary analysis. This will build on foundations – genomic data, development of NGS approaches, taxonomic knowledge and research material – already established in Zurich.

POSITION CHARACTERISTICS: The Institute of Systematic Botany in Zurich offers excellent research facilities and a stimulating working environment for graduate students in plant systematics and evolution. The project will also involve collaboration with legume researchers in Brasil, the Netherlands, U.K., U.S.A. and Canada. Salary is according to the Swiss National Science Foundation guidelines. Funding, including for laboratory and field work, is available for 3 years.

REQUIREMENTS: Applicants should hold a Masters degree in systematics, biodiversity or evolutionary biology. Experience in molecular laboratory techniques, working with NGS data, phylogenetic analysis, macroevolutionary analysis, fieldwork and GIS are all potentially relevant. Excellent knowledge of English, written and oral, is essential.

HOW TO APPLY: Send the following documents by email AS A SINGLE PDF FILE to Dr. Colin Hughes, i) a two-page application letter describing your research interests, outlining why you think working on mimosoid legumes is interesting, why are you interested in a Ph.D. position in systematic botany and your career goals; ii) your CV, including a list of publications (if applicable); iii) a copy of your undergraduate and graduate academic record; iv) names and contact details of at least two referees selected from your academic advisors.

DEADLINE FOR APPLICATION: Applications will be screened from May 25th 2015 onwards until the positions are filled.

STARTING DATE: Sept/Oct 2015.

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