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ACCE DTP fully funded studentship - The evolution and genomics of sexual phenotypes

   School of Biosciences

Sheffield United Kingdom Bioinformatics Cell Biology Evolution Molecular Biology

About the Project

The Project

Sexual dimorphism is one of the most conspicuous sources of biodiversity and can be observed across a range of phenotypes, including morphology, life history and behaviour. Understanding the genetics and evolution of sex differences are therefore key goals in biology. Traditionally, sex chromosomes have been viewed as the primary source of sex differences. However, there is now growing evidence that many sexual dimorphisms are actually the product of differences in how genes are expressed in males and females over the lifecycle. This project will test how the sexual genome evolves and develops using next-generation sequencing data and birds as a model system. Birds are an ideal system to ask these questions as they exhibit a spectacular diversity of sexual dimorphisms and many species are subject to strong sexual selection. The specific approach taken can be tailored to the particular interests of the student and could include studies of sex chromosomes, gene expression, alternative splicing, adaptation, sexual selection and genome evolution. This work would suit a highly motivated student with strong analytical skills and an enthusiasm for evolution and genomics. Prior experience with bioinformatics or programming is welcomed but certainly not required. The project will involve computational and laboratory work, and the successful candidate will receive high quality training in programming, wet-lab skills and state-of-the-art genomic techniques. Additionally, there will be ample opportunity for the student to develop their own research interests over the course of the project.

The Team

The PhD student will be joining a productive and collaborative research group in the School of Biosciences at the University of Sheffield. There will be many opportunities to collaborate with ongoing work in the lab. For more details see The applicant will also benefit from the diverse range of expertise offered by the co-supervisors Prof Jon Slate (University of Sheffield) and Prof Steve Paterson (University of Liverpool). Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact Dr Alison Wright, the lead supervisor, for more details on the group, project and facilities ().

This PhD project is part of the NERC funded Doctoral Training Partnership “ACCE” (Adapting to the Challenges of a Changing Environment. ACCE is a partnership between the Universities of Sheffield, Liverpool, York, CEH, and NHM, for more information about ACCE and how to apply please visit the website:

The NERC ACCE DTP and the University of Sheffield are committed to recruiting future scientists regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation or career pathway to date. We understand that commitment and excellence can be shown in many ways and we have built our recruitment process to reflect this. We welcome applicants from all backgrounds, particularly those underrepresented in science, who have curiosity, creativity and a drive to learn new skills. "

How to apply:

All applicants to ACCE must complete the ACCE personal statement proforma. This is instead of a normal personal/supporting statement/cover letter. The proforma is designed to standardise this part of the application to minimise the difference between those who are given support and those who are not. The proforma and more information on the ACCE application process can be found here:

Shortlisted applicants will be invited for an interview to take place in the w/c 21st February 2022.

Science Graduate School

As a PhD student in one of the science departments at the University of Sheffield, you’ll be part of the Science Graduate School. You’ll get access to training opportunities designed to support your career development by helping you gain professional skills that are essential in all areas of science. You’ll be able to learn how to recognise good research and research behaviour, improve your communication abilities and experience the breadth of technologies that are used in academia, industry and many related careers. Visit to learn more.

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