Apply now! Two Postdocs on Major Transitions in Evolution: Deadline 15th August 2019

The evolutionary genomics of a major transition in evolution

We are delighted to have been awarded a joint grant from NERC (Natural Environment and Research Council, NERC) and NSF (National Science Foundation, USA) to study the evolutionary genomics of a major transition in evolution, in wasps and bees. This is a collaborative project across three labs: Dr Seirian Sumner’s in University College London, UK, Dr Sandra Rehan’s in York Univ. Toronto, Canada and Dr Amy Toth’s in Iowa State Univ., USA. We are now seeking two highly motivated postdoctoral researchers to join our team and help spearhead this project.

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What’s it all about?

Over 20 years ago, eight major transitions in evolution that explain the emergence of biological complexity were defined, one of which is the evolution of sociality (or superorganismality). Significant advances have been made in understanding the theory underpinning major evolutionary transitions; however, we lack an integrated understanding of the evolutionary patterns and processes of the major transitions. Through this project, we have formulated a new predictive framework on the molecular processes underpinning major transitions; the predictions of this framework will be tested empirically using multi-level genomic analyses of sociality in 16 species of bees and wasps. 

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What we’re looking for

The project is mostly computational, involving large-scale comparative genomic and transcriptomic analyses of bee and wasp species that span the stages of the major evolutionary transition from solitary to social living. Most of the datasets are already complete (and those that are not will be complete by end of 2019), allowing the postdoctoral team to get cracking in analysing data to test hypotheses on how major transitions arise at the level of the genes. The successful candidates will be evolutionary biologists with proven track-records in the use of genomic analyses and bioinformatics to address broad evolutionary questions. An in-depth knowledge of social insects and social evolution is not a pre-requisite, but a curiosity about these topics, and a willingness to learn about how and why they evolved, is essential.

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Some things you need to know

The two postdocs will work concurrently (on 30 months contracts), one based in the UK at UCL, and the other in the USA at ISU. However, both postdocs will work collaboratively and enjoy considerable mobility between the labs of the three Investigators. These positions, therefore, present excellent opportunities for networking in three countries and world-class institutions and their respective lab groups. The positions are available from Sept 2019; successful candidates must be in post by end of Nov 2019 at the latest.



Apply here for the UK job.

Apply here for the US job.


Dr Seirian Sumner

Dr Sandra Rehan

Dr Amy Toth