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Vacancies: 2 postdoctoral positions in Modelling Evolutionary Processes (eco-evo-devo)

7 December 2016


Call for applications for two postdoctoral research positions in the area of evolutionary systems biology in the lab of Dr Richard Watson at the University of Southampton.


Fellows will build on recent developments unifying evolutionary theory with learning theory. This work converts theoretical tools of learning systems to deepen and expand our understanding of natural evolution. Both positions will use computational and/or mathematical modelling to explore the adaptive capabilities of different functional processes and different assumptions about the processes of and feedbacks within natural selection: the selective conditions in which it takes place, the variation on which it can act, and the heritability of that variation. We focus on modelling how these components of the Darwinian Machine (i.e. selection, variation and inheritance) change over time as a function of past evolution.


Themes addressed within these projects include evolution of:

  • developmental organisations, plasticity, and evolvability (evo-devo)
  • ecological organisations, collective function and niche construction in ecosystems (evo-eco)
  • reproductive organisations and transitions in individuality (evo-ego)


The successful candidates will build mathematical/simulation models to develop our understanding of how ecological, developmental and reproductive feedbacks alter evolutionary dynamics and test the utility of learning theory to characterise them.


Full Time Fixed Term 2 years
£29,301 to £36,001 per annum (depending on experience)
Applications close 29 January 2017
Start date 1 June 2017


For further information and applications, refer to the university recruitment portal or contact Dr Richard Watson.

Sonia Sultan

Sonia Sultan joins EES project

7 November 2016


Sonia E. Sultan is a plant evolutionary ecologist and Professor of Biology at Wesleyan University. Her research group studies ecological development or ‘eco-devo’: how individual plants develop and function differently in response to different environmental conditions, in particular to factors that vary in nature such as light and shade, soil moisture, and key nutrients. Sultan has been a major contributor to the empirical and conceptual literatures on plasticity and niche construction and their roles in adaptive evolution. She published many of these ideas in a book entitled Organism and Environment: Ecological Development, Niche Construction and Adaptation (Oxford University Press, 2015). She will contribute to the EES research program by working on Project 12 (Non-genetic inheritance and adaptation to novel environments) and participating in workshops.

Massimo Pigliucci joins EES project

2 September 2016


Massimo Pigliucci is the K.D. Irani Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York. He has made seminal contributions to both evolutionary biology and the philosophy of biology, and was one of the founders of the extended evolutionary synthesis movement. Pigliucci was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science “for fundamental studies of genotype by environmental interactions and for public defense of evolutionary biology from pseudoscientific attack.” He will contribute to the EES research program by working on Project 2 (The EES in philosophical perspective) and participating in workshops.

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