Postdoctoral Research Associate in Evolutionary Genomics

Country: United Kingdom;

Deadline: 06.07.2019



An 18-month position is available to join a new group led by Simon Martin at the University of Edinburgh's Institute of Evolutionary Biology, to start on or before 1st October 2019.

Our research involves genomic analyses of natural populations to study evolutionary processes such as adaptation and speciation. We are seeking a researcher to work on a collaborative project that investigates the evolution of supergenes and their role in speciation by combining genome structural analysis and population genomics in butterflies. The specific role will be tailored to you and will focus either on genome assembly, linkage mapping and analysis of structural variation or on population genomic analyses of selection, recombination and migration.

You will be joining a small group based in the stimulating and supportive environment of the Institute of Evolutionary Biology, a world-renowned centre for evolution and population genetics. 
The project will involve collaboration with partners in Europe and Africa. Your research activities will be largely computational and will involve application of cutting edge techniques to analyse high-throughput sequencing data, with opportunities for methods development. A component of the job will be to coordinate sample collection/breeding, with an option to work for up to two months on site at Mpala Research Centre in Kenya.

Applicants should hold (or will shortly be awarded) a PhD, and have a proven track record of producing high quality data suitable for publication. Expertise in analysis of high-throughput sequencing data are essential, and a strong background in evolutionary or population genomics, adaptation and speciation would be advantageous.

Informal enquiries to

1. Job Details

Job title: Postdoctoral Research Associate

School/Support Department: School of Biological Sciences

Unit (if applicable): Institute of Evolutionary Biology

Line manager: Dr Simon Martin

2. Job Purpose

To contribute to an evolutionary genomics research project investigating structural variation in the genome and its role in adaptation and speciation. The post will encompass elements of one or both of two parallel sub-projects: (1) genome assembly, linkage mapping and analysis of structural variation using both short and long-read sequencing data; (2) population genomic analyses based on short read sequencing data, including fieldwork in East Africa.

3. Main Responsibilities

  • Planning and execution of specific elements of the research project, acting under general guidance from the PI. Specifically, conducting bioinformatic analyses of large-scale genomic data either for genome assembly, linkage mapping and comparative genomics or to study signatures of selection in wild and reared population samples. (Approx 60% of time)
  • Coordinating data collection in the field; guiding and or working alongside students and field assistants conducting this work (Approx 15% of time)
  • Performing routine laboratory protocols for DNA extraction; contributing to laboratory maintenance and ordering of supplies. (Approx 5% of time)
  • Maintaining accurate and up-to-date records and taking a lead role in writing up findings for publication. Sharing of data and code with team members and collaborators. Presentation of findings at lab meetings and at least one conference (Approx 20 % of time)

  • 4. Planning and Organising

    The post-holder will plan and manage their own research activities to ensure that the work is conducted in accordance with the research timetable. This work will depend on field-collected and reared samples from collaborators. The post holder will be partly responsible for coordinating with and providing guidance to the collaborators to ensure that the necessary material is obtained.

    5. Problem Solving

    The project is expected to present challenges associated with genomic analyses in highly-diverse non-model organisms as well as working with imperfect field-collected data. This will necessitate development of creative solutions for bioinformatic analysis, and may result in the development of bioinformatics tools that will be shared with the broader community as open-source software.

    6. Decision Making

    The post-holder will set their own short-term time-lines, objectives, and methodologies within the longer scale time-lines, which will be agreed with the PI. Methodological approaches to address the research questions will be selected in collaboration with the PI and other collaborators. The post-holder will have freedom to shape the direction of research questions within the general objectives of the project, with the expectation of clear communication with the PI throughout.

    7. Key Contacts/Relationships

    The post-holder will have regular meetings with the PI, and also interact frequently (either face-to-face or electronically) with collaborators in Kenya.

    8. Knowledge, Skills and Experience Needed for the Job


    • PhD (or will shortly be awarded a PhD) in computational biology, evolutionary/population genetics or a related field


    • Experience in bioinformatics using high-throughput sequencing or SNP data in the unix/linux environment 
    • Ability to work independently 
    • Ability to lead and complete research projects 
    • A proven track record in producing high quality data suitable for publication

    • Expertise in one or more of the following: genome assembly, linkage mapping, analysis of structural variation, population genomics 
    • Experience using high-performance computing 
    • At least one peer-reviewed publication as first author 
    • Fieldwork and or wet lab experience

    Knowledge, Skills and Competencies

    • Ability to code in R, Python, C++ or similar language 
    • Effective project and time management skills

    Personal Attributes

    • Ability to communicate research both in publication and oral presentations as evidenced by track record 
    • Ability to lead a project in collaboration with an international team 
    • An interest in evolutionary genetics and/or population genetics

    • Creativity and adaptability to identify and develop new lines of enquiry

    9. Dimensions

    The post holder will work as part of a small group lead by Dr Simon Martin at the University of Edinburgh, with significant interactions with collaborators at, and possible travel to Mpala Research Centre in Kenya.

    10. Job Context and any other relevant information

    The post holder will be joining a newly-established group funded by a Royal Society University Research Fellowship to Dr Simon Martin. The work will form part of a broader project to study speciation and adaptation in natural populations. The group has strong connections with several other groups in Europe, Africa and the Americas, and open sharing of knowledge and data is a strong expectation within this community.

    Application Procedure

    All applicants should apply online by clicking the apply link at the bottom of this page and submitting an up to date CV and Cover Letter. The application process is quick and easy to follow, and you will receive email confirmation of safe receipt of your application.

    You will be notified by email whether you have been shortlisted for interview or not.

    The closing date is 5pm GMT on 05 July 2019.

    Eligibility to Work

    In accordance with the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 and Immigration Act 2016 the University of Edinburgh, as an employer, has a legal responsibility to prevent illegal working and therefore must check that all employees are entitled to work in the United Kingdom (UK).

    To do so, the University requires to see original documents evidencing right to work in the UK before commencement of employment and this is normally carried out at interview. Details will be provided in any letter of invitation to interview.

    For further information on eligibility to work please visit our eligibility to work webpage 

    If you are from outside the EEA and not currently eligible to work in the UK, there are visa routes that may be available to you, for example:

  • Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent): If you are an academic in the field of sciences; humanities; engineering; medicine; digital technology; or the arts, it may be possible for you to apply for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa. This route requires you to apply to be endorsed as an internationally recognised leader or emerging leader in your particular field by a designated competent body (Arts Council England, British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering, Royal Society, Tech City UK). However, if you are applying for a senior academic role, e.g. Professor/Reader there is an accelerated route to endorsement. Further information can be found on the UKVI website
  • Tier 2: The University is a UKVI licensed sponsor and is able to issue a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to successful candidates who are offered highly skilled roles and meet the eligibility criteria. The CoS enables candidates to apply for a Tier 2 (general visa).

  • Further information about whether you require a visa and other visa routes can be found at: 

    Conditions of Employment

    Pension Scheme

    This role is grade UE07 and therefore the post holder is automatically included in membership of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), subject to the USS membership criteria, unless they indicate that they choose not to join the Scheme.

    For further information please visit our Pensions website .


    The role is grade UE07 and attracts an annual salary of £33,199 to £39609 for 35 hours each week. Salary is paid monthly by direct transfer to your Bank or Building Society account, normally on the 28th of the month. Salaries for part-time staff are calculated on the full-time scales, pro-rata to the Standard Working Week.

    The University reserves the right to vary the candidate information or make no appointment at all. Neither in part, nor in whole does this information form part of any contract between the University and any individual. 
    var links = document.querySelectorAll(".targetLink"), i, j, aTags, string; for(i=0; i The Institute of Evolutionary Biology (IEB) At the Institute of Evolutionary Biology we study evolution in the broadest possible sense, from virtually every angle and using a great range of organisms and techniques.

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