Offre de thèse – Disease transmission in ant social networks, Lausanne (Suisse)

I am looking to recruit a highly motivated PhD student to work on disease transmission in ant social networks at the Department of Ecology and Evolution (DEE) of Lausanne University, Switzerland. The position is fully funded for three years and starts in August 2017.

The successful candidate will work with a novel system, the queenless clonal raider ant Ooceraea biroi (formerly: Cerapachys biroi), to investigate the properties of social groups that increase resistance to pathogens (fungi, nematodes). The unusual biology of this species allows us to precisely control and replicate aspects of colony composition (e.g. size, genetic and demographic structure) that are thought to modulate interaction network structure, and therefore, disease spread. The student will use newly developed techniques for automated behavioral tracking in combination with experimental infections and/or molecular methods (RNAseq/qPCR) to study how ant colonies of different composition regulate behavior and immune function at the individual and group levels, and how this affects disease spread. Within this framework, the student will also be encouraged to develop her/his own research questions.

Candidates should have a Master’s degree (or equivalent) and a background in evolution/ecology, behavior, epidemiology, systems biology or other relevant field. Motivation, curiosity, and an ability to work independently are essential. Experience working with social insects, programming, or standard wet-lab techniques would be advantageous but are not necessary. The working language of the group is English; proficiency with French is helpful but not required.

The successful applicant will join an international, interactive department with 20 groups working on a wide range of topics in evolution and ecology, including other labs working on social insects. Lausanne is a small but vibrant city located on the shore of Lake Geneva, less than one hour from the Alps. There are large student and international communities and the city is well connected to all major European cities.

To apply, please send a CV, a short (<1 page) cover letter describing your background and interests, and the name and contact information of 2-3 persons willing to provide recommendations to: by the end of March. Informal inquiries are also welcome.

Yuko Ulrich (main supervisor)
Laboratory of Social Evolution and Behavior (current address)
The Rockefeller University, New York

DEE in Lausanne:
O. biroi:

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