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Bringing prehistoric Europe back to life using Iron Age DNA

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  • Full or part time
    Dr E Elhaik
    Prof M Collins
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Background. Ancient DNA research is one of the most exciting fields in genetics. Using ancient DNA, we can answer questions such as: what did the Vikings or Ancient Romans look like? What diseases did they have? How did their migration affect our environment? What percentage of our DNA came from theirs? Can we trace their movements using the plant seeds that they moved around?

The successful candidate will receive multiple trainings in the ancient DNA lab in the University of York, in the Bioinformatics Hub at the University of Sheffield, and in one of the world leading companies in DNA tests, located in Ohio (USA). The candidate will gain valuable experience in “wet lab” techniques, bioinformatics, and business.

Job description
We are seeking an outstanding graduate student who is self-motivated and can work independently, with an enthusiasm for a mix of fields and computational lab work. The position is open to all applicants with mathematical/bio-statistical and computational skills and an interest in paleo-genomics and developing expertise in bioinformatics, genomics, and biodiversity while developing ties with a major US DNA diagnostics company.

Our groups have strong expertise in studying ancient DNA and developing powerful tools, such as the Geographical Population Structure (GPS), which can find one’s village of origin using our DNA (http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/dna-gps-maps-where-your-ancestors-lived).
This is a multidisciplinary project which provides many learning opportunities in various exciting and emerging fields. The successful candidate will spend about 6 months working in the Ancient DNA lab in York learning how to sequence and assemble ancient genomes and 3 months in the US training with a DNA diagnosis company. In the remaining time, the candidate would be a part of the Bioinformatics Hub at the University of Sheffield.

Funding Notes

Fully funded for a minimum of 3.5 years, studentships cover: (i) a tax-free stipend at the standard Research Council rate (at least £14,057 per annum for 2016-2017), (ii) research costs, and (iii) tuition fees at the UK/EU rate. Studentships are available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements. Students from EU countries who do not meet residency requirements may still be eligible for a fees-only award.


This PhD project is part of the NERC funded Doctoral Training Partnership “ACCE” (Adapting to the Challenges of a Changing Environment). This is a partnership between the Universities of Sheffield, Liverpool, York and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.
Selection process: Shortlisting will take place as soon as possible after the closing date and successful applicants will be notified promptly. Shortlisted applicants will be invited for an interview to take place at the University of Sheffield on w/c 15th February 2016.

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