We are seeking a PhD student to join us (Prof. Anna Lindholm & Dr. Andri Manser) in a research project at the Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies assessing the potential of a naturally occurring selfish genetic element (called t haplotype) as a tool to control invasive mouse pests on islands where they harm endemic wildlife. The t haplotype is a supergene in house mice with two seemingly ideal characteristics for pest control. First, males that carry two copies of the gene (t/t homozygotes) are completely sterile. Second, males that carry only one copy of the t (+/t heterozygotes) pass the gene on to 95% of their offspring rather than the 50% expected under Mendelian inheritance (gene drive), allowing the genetic propagation of the sterile t in a population. Preliminary work suggests that sterile t releases could offer a powerful, versatile, and humane tool to eradicate target populations due to a lack of fertile males. The aim of the project is to assess the potential of the sterile t as a pest control tool from a wide range of methodological angles.
What will you be doing?
The applicant will study the impact of sterile males on offspring production in settings of increasing complexity, from a laboratory experiment, to enclosure populations, to releases into a semi-natural population where sterile males have to integrate into a preexisting complex social environment. Additionally, the applicant will have the opportunity to contribute to analysis of relevant large datasets, and/or modelling.
What are we looking for?
You are passionate about evolutionary biology and keen to explore how evolutionary concepts could be applied to solve a major practical problem. You enjoy working with animals as well as designing and implementing experiments to test your ideas. You are highly motivated, collaborative and an excellent communicator, and have a demonstrable desire to learn new skills. Experience with animal experiments, data analysis, and modelling will be viewed as a bonus. You bring a relevant MSc degree or equivalent.
What we offer
The great majority of your time will be spent on research. We offer excellent experimental facilities, great collaborators, and strong support in developing your scientific skills and abilities. Participation in teaching activities, and taking classes, is part of your training. The project has four years of funding, with a generous salary. We provide a highly international largely English speaking environment
How to apply
Please submit applications as a single pdf file, including a letter of motivation that highlights your interest in and suitability for the project, your CV, and recommendation letters or contact details of 2 references, by email to Dr Anna Lindholm ([Email Address Removed]). Screening of applicants is ongoing and continues until late August 2022. Starting date: Autumn 2022 (to be negotiated)