Postdoctoral researcher in single-cell phylodynamics

Updated: 5 months ago
Job Type: PartTime
Deadline: 11 Sep 2022

Postdoctoral researcher in single-cell phylodynamics


The Computational Evolution Group, led by Prof. Dr. Tanja Stadler, in the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering (D-BSSE) at ETH Zurich works at the interface of mathematics, computer science and evolutionary biology. We develop phylogenetic and phylodynamic methods to understand evolutionary, ecological, epidemiological and developmental processes on different scales based on genetic data. 

Our research group is located in Basel, Switzerland’s oldest university city  and a European hot-spot for biomedical research. Our department is in close proximity to several other academic research institutes as well as major pharmaceutical and biotech companies. We are also part of the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, a major developer and provider of bioinformatics services and resources.

Applications are invited for the position of postdoctoral researcher with Prof. Dr. Tanja Stadler. The position is fixed-term for 2 years with possibility of extension.


Project background

How does a single fertilised egg develop into a functioning organism? The answer to this question depends on the underlying population dynamic process, i.e. the division and change of individual cells. Within the EU-funded PhyCogyproject (https://cordis.europa.eu/project/id/101001077 ; ERC consolidator grant), one of our goals is to introduce phylodynamics into developmental biology, by formulating and characterizing models describing the division and change of individual cells. With the resulting so-called phylodynamic modelling framework, we will move from a qualitative description of developmental processes to a quantification of developmental processes.  


Job description

The open position is in the field of single-cell phylodynamics (https://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aah6266 ). You will work closely with Prof. Dr. Tanja Stadler and other team members in the Computational Evolution group. The ultimate goal of the project is to quantify important developmental processes from single cell data that have so far only been qualitatively described. You will quantify the rates of cell division (i.e., replication), cell apoptosis (i.e., death), and cell differentiation (i.e., transition) based on single-cell lineage tracing data and single-cell transcriptomic data. The quantification will utilize state-of-the-art evolutionary and phylodynamic models within a Bayesian framework while taking phylogenetic uncertainty into account. This framework will be validated on C. elegans data, where the developmental process, developmental trajectory and the full developmental tree are known. Subsequently, it will be applied to real-world data from more complex organisms (such as zebrafish brains) to gain novel insights into the developmental process. 


We offer

We offer a dynamic and supportive working environment with flexible working hours. ETH Zurich is a family-friendly employer with excellent working conditions and offers highly competitive salaries . The position also comes with funding to attend international conferences and workshops and you will have the opportunity to participate in personal growth and career development opportunities offered by ETH Zurich and the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics. Switzerland offers top quality of life – including beautiful natural scenery and fantastic infrastructure. We look forward to showing you why Basel, a very international small city ranked the tenth most livable city in the world by Mercer, is a great place to live and work!


Your profile

We are looking for a highly motivated early career researcher with strong quantitative skills. You will have completed a PhD in biology, computational biology, biostatistics or a related discipline prior to starting the position. Familiarity with developmental biology is a requirement for the position. Experience with phylogenetics or phylodynamics is beneficial, but not required. You will engage in interdisciplinary research as part of a team, so clear and effective communication skills are a priority. We value an open and inclusive group culture. As a member of the Computational Evolution group, you will be expected to help us maintain a positive team dynamic and a welcoming work environment. Our working language in the group is English and no knowledge of German is required. In line with our commitment to an open and inclusive group culture we welcome applications from individuals of all demographic groups and personal backgrounds. 


About ETH Zürich

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.


Curious? So are we.

We look forward to receiving your online application with the following documents:

  • Curriculum Vitae including your educational history and full list of publications.
  • Letter of motivation of max. 2 pages covering your past research experiences and future research interests, goals and how they would relate to and fit in with the PhyCogy project and the Computational Evolution group’s research domain and activities.
  • Names, e-mail addresses, and phone numbers of at least two references, mentioning for each the professional relationship you have with them.

Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered. We will review applications as they come in, until the position is filled.

For further information please visit our lab website at https://bsse.ethz.ch/cevo . Questions regarding the position (no applications) should be directed to Dr. Louis du Plessis (louis.duplessis@bsse.ethz.ch ).


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