Eco-Evolutionary Study of the Pace-Of-Life Syndrome and the Gut Microbiome in Damselflies
University of Leuven Ecology, Evolution and Biodiversity Conservation


(ref. BAP-2019-468)

You will be embedded in an international, enthusiastic and dynamic team with ample expertise in using damselflies as model systems to address key questions at the intersection of ecology and evolution. Our team has excellent research facilities including climate rooms and well-equipped ecophysiology and microbiology laboratories. This PhD project is embedded in a larger project led by Prof. Luc De Meester, Prof. Ellen Decaestecker and Prof. Robby Stoks on eco-evolutionary dynamics. Your day-to-day supervisors will be Dr. Lizanne Janssens, Dr. Nedim Tüzün and Dr. Shinjini Mukherjee; a full-time technician trained in microbiology will provide assistance. Leuven is a beautiful historical university city with a very high and pleasant standard of living ( Leuven is a 15-minute train ride away from Brussels International Airport and a 20-minutes train ride from Brussels itself. Brussels is one of the best-connected cities in Western Europe; Amsterdam, Paris and London are all reachable within 2 hours by train. The university, founded in 1425, has a top research and teaching standard ( The KU Leuven features consistently in Europe's top-15 universities and has been elected by Reuters as most innovative university in Europe.



We invite applications for a PhD position to study multi-trait plasticity and evolution of a damselfly along latitudinal gradients and poleward range expansion fronts. Special focus will be on the interplay between the pace-of-life syndrome (POLS) and the gut microbiota and their link with stress ecology. Stressors include heat stress and/or pollutants. This project includes indoor common-garden rearing experiments, phenotyping POLS traits, metagenetic analyses of gut microbiota communities and reciprocal gut microbiota transplant experiments.


Recent relevant publications:

Debecker S & Stoks R (2019) Pace of life syndrome under warming and pollution: integrating life history, behavior, and physiologyacross latitudes. Ecological Monographs 89:e1332.


Macke E, Callens M, De Meester L, Decaestecker E (2018). Host-genotype dependent gut microbiota drives zooplankton tolerance to toxic cyanobacteria. Nature Communications 8:1608.


Verheyen J, Delnat V & Stoks R (2019) Increased daily temperature fluctuations overrule the ability of gradual thermal evolution tooffset the increased pesticide toxicity under global warming. Environmental Science & Technology 53:4600-4608.



  • Highly motivated student with an excellent academic record (comparable to great honor = magna cum laude).
  • A European union associated master degree (EER – Switzerland) in biology, biochemistry or similar (bio-engineer, biomedical sciences).
  • Very good command of both spoken and written English.
  • Strong interest in evolutionary ecology and microbiology, and a high ability for accurate lab work.
  • Proven microbiological skills are an asset, but training can be provided.



  • We offer a full time job initially for a period of one year, but extendable to a total of four years pending good evaluation.
  • Funding is available for the full four years, but we request and give support for applying for your own scholarship.



For more information please contact Prof. dr. Robby Stoks, tel.: +32 16 32 37 10, mail:


Please submit your CV, a 1-page letter of motivation including relevant experience, email adresses of two referents, and a transcript of your bachelor and master study results as a single PDF.


Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed on 13. August 2019.


The starting date is 1st of October 2019 (can be negotiated).


You can apply for this job no later than August 09, 2019 via the online application tool

KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at

If you apply for this position please say you saw it on Bioloxy


All Jobs


Harvard University Academic Positions

Kuwait University Current Faculty Openings

Osaka University Academic Opportunities

Purdue University Job Postings for Faculty Positions

Texas Tech University Faculty Openings

Tsinghua University Job Postings

University of Cambridge Job Openings

University of Geneva Faculty Opportunities

University of New South Wales Job Openings

University of Nottingham Research Positions

University of Oslo Academic Jobs

University of Saskatchewan Faculty Positions

University of Southampton Research Vacancies

University of Tokyo Current Academic Vacancies

University of Toronto Open Faculty Positions