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    Opportunity: PhD projects in genomic analysis of ancient DNA & megafaunal evolution/extinction @ University of Adelaide -- Adelaide, SA, Australia
    Submitted by Ray Tobler; posted on Thursday, December 07, 2017


    Several PhD project opportunities starting immediately in bioinformatics, genomics, and statistical genetics.

    We are seeking highly motivated students to fill two (2) PhD positions as part of the megafaunal evolution/extinction research team at the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA ( The research program cuts across traditional research boundaries, incorporating cutting-edge molecular biology techniques, population genetic analyses, statistical modeling, and palaeo-climate/environmental reconstructions. Themes of the program are reconstructing the population history of living & extinct species (using ancient DNA to directly sample past populations), identifying the drivers of Pleistocene/Holocene megafaunal extinction by integrating genomic data and models of past climate & environment (e.g. Cooper et al. Science 349:602-606), exploring the prevalence and impacts of past admixture/hybridisation events (e.g. Soubrier et al. 2016 Nature Communications 7:13158), and characterising the genomic evolution of species through time. Focal species are drawn from across the world - primarily Australia, North America, and Eurasia - and include extant and extinct bison, horses, cave lions, wolves, bears, rhinos, thylacines, and kangaroos/wallabies (among many others).


    The candidates must have, as a minimum, an excellent undergraduate academic record and meet the English Language Proficiency (ELP) requirement. The call is open to international and Australian domestic students with backgrounds in bioinformatics, mathematics, statistics, computer science, population/quantitative genetics, or a related field. While a background in biology is desirable, it is not a prerequisite for success, as training opportunities in genetics, evolution, molecular biology, or other related areas can be provided during the PhD. Successful candidates will be involved in analysing genomic datasets from extinct animal species/populations from across Australia, North America, and Eurasia, with special emphasis on reconstructing demographic histories (including inference of hybridisation/admixture and past responses to climate/environmental change) and identifying drivers underlying adaptation and/or extinction.


    Good computational and analytical skills are of high importance and a successful candidate would be competent in one or more of the following:
    • Statistical analysis of large datasets and/or mathematical modelling
    • Fluency in using Linux systems, with a prior hands-on experience with Bash scripting
    • Programming in a scripting language such as Python and/or R


    The PhD will be situated in the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD;, a highly dynamic group based at the University of Adelaide, with world leading researchers in ancient DNA, human evolution, epigenetics, microbiomics, and megafaunal extinction.


    Interested applicants are encouraged to send a CV (including names and contact details of three references) and a cover letter to Dr Kieren Mitchell (kieren.mitchell[at]

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