Postdoctoral Research Associate in Landscape/Population Genomics and Evolutionary Biology

Location : Durham

Salary : £34,304 - £40,927 per annum

Job Description 

Durham University

Durham University is one of the world’s top universities with strengths across the Arts and Humanities, Sciences and Social Sciences. We are home to some of the most talented scholars and researchers from around the world who are tackling global issues and making a difference to people’s lives.


The University sits in a beautiful historic city where it shares ownership of a UNESCO World Heritage Site with Durham Cathedral, the greatest Romanesque building in Western Europe. A collegiate University, Durham recruits outstanding students from across the world and offers an unmatched wider student experience.


Less than 3 hours north of London, and an hour and a half south of Edinburgh, County Durham is a region steeped in history and natural beauty. The Durham Dales, including the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, are home to breathtaking scenery and attractions. Durham offers an excellent choice of city, suburban and rural residential locations. The University provides a range of benefits including pension and childcare benefits and the University’s Relocation Manager can assist with potential schooling requirements.


Durham University seeks to promote and maintain an inclusive and supportive environment for work and study that assists all members of our University community to reach their full potential. Diversity brings strength and we welcome applications from across the international, national and regional communities that we work with and serve.


The Department


The Department of Biosciences is consistently ranked in the top 5 UK Biological Sciences Departments in the Complete University Guide and was ranked 8th for Research Impact in REF2014. Research in the department is focused around four key themes – animal cells & systems; biomolecular interactions; ecology, evolution & environment; and molecular plant sciences. Our research is supported by outstanding research infrastructure in advanced bioimaging (including super-resolution, confocal and electron microscopy), genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, high-performance computing and field research. We promote research at the interface with other disciplines.


For more information, visit our departmental website: https://www.dur.ac.uk/biosciences/.


The Role


Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Evolutionary Biology with a particular emphasis on Population and Landscape Genomics. The research project is funded by a collaborative NSFDEB-NERC grant that builds on well over a decade of research on the evolutionary causes and consequences of reproductive and aggressive interference in rubyspot damselflies (Hetaerina spp.), this project tackles the question of how adaptations that reduce interspecific interference affect range expansion. 


The focal species, H. titia, varies in wing coloration both seasonally and geographically, and wing colour determines the frequency and intensity of territorial and reproductive interactions between H. titia and other sympatric Hetaerinaspecies. Taking advantage of among-population variation in wing colour, we will use genomic approaches to understand how behavioural interference between species influences range dynamics.


The successful applicant will be expected to take a leadership role in the design and management of the genomic analyses to compare rates of diversification and historical demography among H. titia populations and between H. titiaand four congeners to differentiate between several possible historical range expansion scenarios.  


Responsibilities :


  • To understand and convey material of a specialist or highly technical nature to the team or group of people through presentations and discussions that leads to the presentation of research papers in conferences and publications.
  • To prepare and deliver presentations on research outputs/activities to audiences which may include: research sponsors, academic and non-academic audiences.
  • To publish high quality outputs, including papers for submission to peer reviewed journals and papers for presentation at conferences and workshops under the direction of the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder.
  • To assist with the development of research objectives and proposals.
  • To conduct individual and collaborative research projects under the direction of the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder.
  • To work with the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder and other colleagues in the research group, as appropriate, to identify areas for research, develop new research methods and extend the research portfolio.
  • To deal with problems that may affect the achievement of research objectives and deadlines by discussing with the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder and offering creative or innovative solutions.
  • To liaise with research colleagues and make internal and external contacts to develop knowledge and understanding to form relationships for future research collaboration.
  • To plan and manage own research activity, research resources in collaboration with others and contribute to the planning of research projects.
  • To deliver training in research techniques/approaches to peers, visitors and students as appropriate.
  • To be involved in student supervision, as appropriate, and assist with the assessment of the knowledge of students.
  • To contribute to fostering a collegial and respectful working environment which is inclusive and welcoming and where everyone is treated fairly with dignity and respect.
  • To engage in wider citizenship to support the department and wider discipline.



This post is fixed term for two years, as funding is available for this duration only. 


The post-holder is employed to work on research/a research project which will be led by another colleague. Whilst this means that the post-holder will not be carrying out independent research in his/her own right, the expectation is that they will contribute to the advancement of the project, through the development of their own research ideas/adaptation and development of research protocols.


Successful applicants will, ideally, be in post by 1 November 2021.




How to Apply


For informal enquiries please contact Dr Jonathan Drury (jonathan.p.drury@durham.ac.uk).   All enquiries will be treated in the strictest confidence. 


We prefer to receive applications online via the Durham University Vacancies Site. https://www.dur.ac.uk/jobs/. As part of the application process, you should provide details of 3 (preferably academic/research) referees and the details of your current line manager so that we may seek an employment reference.


Applications are particularly welcome from women and black and minority ethnic candidates, who are under-represented in academic posts in the University .


What to Submit


All applicants are asked to submit:


  • A CV and covering letter which details your experience, strengths and potential in the requirements set out below;


Next Steps


The assessment for the post will include a remote presentation and interview. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview and assessment on tbc.


Person Specification 


The Requirements



  1. Qualification
  • A PhD (or be close to submission) in Evolutionary Biology or a related subject.
  1. Experience
  • Experience in conducting high quality academic research. 
  • Demonstrable ability to write material of a quality commensurate with publication in highly ranked journals.
  • Demonstrable ability to present research papers at international conferences and communicate complex information to specialists and within the wider academic community.
  • Experience with genomic wet-lab protocols (e.g., PCR, RAD-seq or WGS library prep, etc.)
  • Experience using bioinformatic pipelines for preparation and (population genetic) analyses of SNP libraries or similar.
  1. Skills
  • Demonstrable ability to work cooperatively as part of a team, including participating in research meetings.
  • Ability to work independently on own initiative and to strict deadlines.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills.





  1. Experience
  • Strong publication record in peer-reviewed journals, commensurate with stage of career.
  • A track record of presenting research at conferences, symposia, or meetings, commensurate with stage of career.
  • Demonstrable ability to develop research proposals and designs in collaboration with other academics.
  • Experience of overseeing students with respect to the development of their practical/research skills e.g. acting as a demonstrator; supervising student projects/practicals.
  • Experience with simulating and/or fitting models of historical demography (e.g., G-PhoCS, fastsimcoal2, PSMC, ABC, etc.).
  • Experience in computational methods development.
  1. Skills
  • Demonstrable ability to plan and manage independent research.