Senior Research Associate in Microbiota variation, fitness and senescence in the Seychelles warbler University of East Anglia - Faculty of Science School of Biological Sciences United Kingdom

Are you an ambitious researcher with expertise in evolutionary ecology or microbiology, and an enthusiasm to understand what drives individual variation in fitness within wild populations? 

Fundamental gaps exist in our knowledge of the role that the gut microbiota (GM) plays in the health and evolution of its host. Indeed, we have very little understanding of the causes or - perhaps more importantly - the consequences of individual GM variation within natural populations. 

This novel and exciting project now plans to use the uniquely tractable system provided by the Seychelles warbler to undertake a comprehensive investigation into what determines individual GM variation - and how that impacts reproduction, survival and senescence - within a wild vertebrate population. 

The Seychelles warbler system is an excellent model as it provides a closed system (no migration in or out) in which we can monitor all individuals - and key parameters of their varying environment - across their entire lives. This includes longitudinal screening of GM composition, measures of individual condition (including telomere dynamics) and accurate measures of reproductive success and survival (to estimate fitness and senescence). A molecularly-verified pedigree also allows us to disentangle the influence of genes and the environment on the GM traits and fitness components.

Candidates need to hold a PhD, or near completion (or equivalent experience) in evolutionary biology, ecology or microbiology, have an excellent understanding of evolutionary concepts, expertise in the analysis of complex data sets (including fitness components and/or microbiome diversity). Experience in molecular lab work, statistics and bioinformatics would be beneficial, as would experience in (and enthusiasm for) fieldwork on animals, and be able to fulfil all the essential criteria in the person specification.

Based in Prof D.S. Richardson’s (DSR) group in Biological Sciences (BIO) at UEA (https://people.uea.ac.uk/david_richardson), the PDRA will also collaborate with Prof Matt Hutchings (MH: an expert in microbiology). They will also be part of the international ‘Seychelles Warbler Project’ team (http://seychelles-warbler-project.group.shef.ac.uk) and work closely with Dr Hannah Dugdale https://hannahdugdale.wordpress.com/ (an expert on analysing fitness and heritability in wild populations). Within BIO they will actively participate in DSR’s and MH’s vibrant research groups and in departmental activities, including research development meetings, departmental seminars and journal clubs. BIO provides excellent research facilities and offers a diverse and stimulating research environment with many research groups working on questions related to this project. The Norwich Research Park – home of BIO – also hosts a number of other world-leading research institutions including the Earlham Institute, the John Innes Centre and the Quadram institute (which focuses on gut biology and health)

The full time NERC funded post is for a fixed term of 36 months and is due to commence on 1 November 2019.

Closing date: 5 September 2019

The University is a Bronze Athena Swan Award holder, currently working towards Silver


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