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  Social evolution: cooperation and conflict between genes, individuals and groups

   School of Biology

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  Prof A Gardner  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Natural selection explains the appearance of design in the living world. But at what level is this design expected to manifest – gene, individual or group – and what is its function? Social evolution provides a window on this problem, because it is in the context of social interaction that the interests of genes, individuals and groups come into conflict with each other.

I invite applications for a PhD studentship in my research group at the School of Biology, University of St Andrews, Scotland, to develop new theory on the topic of social evolution. The project will suit a Biology graduate with a strong interest in social evolution, but applications from graduates with other backgrounds are also encouraged, and although prior experience in mathematical modelling would be helpful this is certainly not required as the requisite training will be provided.

Current research in my lab involves development of general theory – using kin selection, multilevel selection, game theory and theoretical population genetics approaches – as well as more specific mathematical and computer simulation models that are tailored to the biology of particular organisms, from microbes to insects to humans. Much of our ongoing work is focused on intragenomic conflicts and associated clinical pathologies, plus the role of sex and gender in social evolution

If evolutionary biology really fascinates you, and you are a careful thinker, then you will flourish in the kind of project that I enjoy supervising. Please direct informal enquiries to Prof Andy Gardner ([Email Address Removed]).

How To Apply

Please make a formal application to the School of Biology through our Online Application Portal.

We require the following documents; CV, personal statement, 2 references, academic qualifications, English language qualification (if applicable).

Keywords: Altruism, Behaviour, Conflict, Cooperation, Gender, Genetics, Sex, Social Evolution, Theory.

Biological Sciences (4)

Funding Notes

This studentship is funded by the European Research Council and the School of Biology at the University of St Andrews for a duration of 3.5 years. There are no nationality restrictions on who can apply, and the studentship will cover both Home and Overseas tuition fees.
Chinese nationals are particularly encouraged to apply, as they will also be eligible for additional funding opportunities at the University of St Andrews.


Hitchcock TJ & Gardner A (2020) A gene’s-eye view of sexual antagonism. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B — Biological Sciences 287, 20201633.
Faria GS, Varela SAM & Gardner A (2019) The social evolution of sleep: sex differences, intragenomic conflicts and clinical pathologies. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B — Biological Sciences 286, 20182188.
Micheletti AJC, Ruxton GD & Gardner A (2018) Why war is a man’s game. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B — Biological Sciences 285, 20180975.

How good is research at University of St Andrews in Biological Sciences?

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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