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Developing innovative statistical and population genetic tools for detecting molecular signatures of natural selection using ancient DNA

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  • Full or part time
    Dr Ray Tobler
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Data from the Aboriginal Heritage Project and other ancient DNA studies will provide an unprecedented opportunity to build the first detailed spatiotemporal portrait of human genetic adaptation through time.


We are seeking highly motivated students to fill two (2) PhD positions and join the landmark Aboriginal Heritage Project (, which is reconstructing Indigenous Australian history from a remarkable collection of hair samples and ethnographic data. The project cuts across traditional research boundaries, incorporating cutting-edge statistical and population genetic analyses with anthropological, archaeological and archival research, while maintaining long-term engagement with Indigenous communities throughout Australia. The first results from the project revealed a remarkably deep and abiding population structure across Australia tracing back to the peopling of the continent 50kya (Tobler et al. Nature 2017;544:180--184).


The candidates must have, as a minimum, an excellent undergraduate academic record and meet the English Language Proficiency (ELP) requirement. The call is open to international and domestic students with backgrounds in biology, bioinformatics, mathematics, statistics, computer science, population/quantitative genetics, or a related field. While a background in biology is desirable, it is not a prerequisite for success, as training opportunities in genetics, human evolution, molecular biology, or other related areas can be provided during the PhD.


Good computational and analytical skills are of high importance and a successful candidate would be competent in one or more of the following:
Statistical analysis of large datasets and/or mathematical modeling;
Fluency in using Linux systems, with a prior hands-on experience with Bash scripting;
Programming in a scripting language such as Python and/or R.


The PhD will be situated in the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD;, a highly dynamic group based at the University of Adelaide, with world leading researchers in ancient DNA, human evolution, population genetics, epigenetics, microbiomics, and megafaunal extinction.

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