graduate student position at Uni of Iceland


PhD student position at the Institute of Life- and Environmental Sciences, University of Iceland

The evolutionary and population genomics group of Einar Arnason at the Institute of Life- and Environmental Sciences (ILES) at University of Iceland invites applications for a PhD position in evolutionary genomics for the research topic: Analysis of time-series of whole-genome data from highly fecund gadids.

Field of work

Our research focus is on understanding evolutionary processes in highly fecund organisms. We use highly fecund gadids as study organisms. With a recently awarded Icelandic Research Fund Grant of Excellence we will obtain unparalleled amount of whole-genome sequence data from various gadid populations. Whole-genome sequence data holds huge promise in furthering our understanding of the mechanisms of selection, speciation and adaptation in natural populations. This collaborative project is joint with Katrin Halldorsdottir at ILES, Alison Etheridge at the Department of Statistics in University of Oxford, and Wolfgang Stephan and Bjarki Eldon at the Leibniz Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity Science in Berlin. Among our collaborators are Montgomery Slatkin and Rasmus Nielsen at University of Berkeley in California, Fernando Racimo Centre for GeoGenetics Copenhagen University and Tim Sackton Director of Bioinformatics at Harvard University.

The student will be based at University of Iceland and work under the supervision of Einar Arnason, Katrin Halldórsdóttir, and Bjarki Eldon in Berlin. This is a highly interdisciplinary project combining latest molecular technology, and advanced statistical and bioinformatic analysis. We will maintain good communication between all participants. The position therefore comes with possibilities to visit participating labs and groups in Berlin, Berkeley, Copenhagen, Oxford, and Cambridge (MA).

Analysis of time-series of samples using whole-genome sequencing promises to be a powerful way of understanding evolutionary history, in particular, for detecting selection. The PhD project is about the time-series part of the overall project.

We are looking for a highly motivated individual with a strong interest in evolutionary and population genomics. The University of Iceland expects PhD candidates to complete their studies and write and defend a dissertation within a time period of 3 years after a master’s degree according to the Bologna process.

Qualification requirements

- M.Sc. (or equivalent) in biology, statistics, mathematics, or computer science;

- experience in some kind of data analysis;

- the ability to work both independently and in a team;

- proficiency in written and spoken English

- experience in analysing genomic data is an asset;

- strong interest in evolutionary biology and genomics is an asset;

- experience in working with UNIX/Linux is an asset

How to apply

Please include the following in the application:

i) 1-2 page motivation letter, which should state interest in the project, expectations for your Ph.D. studies and what makes you qualified for the position,

ii) CV and publication list (if any),

iii) transcripts from B.Sc. and M.Sc. studies, and a list of courses during postgraduate studies,

iv) contact information for 2 letters of reference

The successful applicant could anticipate to start work as early as July 2018, or later upon agreement, with funding guaranteed for three years.

Salary will be according to the current collective wage and salary agreement between the Union of University Teachers and the Minister of Finance.

All applications will be answered and applicants will be notified of the employment decision when a decision has been made. Applications will be valid for six months from the end of the application deadline.

APPLY by filling out form for vacancy nr. 354

Some relevant publications

Einar Árnason and Katrín Halldórsdóttir. 2015. Nucleotide variation and balancing selection at the Ckma gene in Atlantic cod: analysis with multiple merger coalescent models. PeerJ e786. doi:10.7717/peerj.786

Bjarki Eldon and John Wakeley 2006. Coalescent processes when the distribution of offspring number among individuals is highly skewed. Genetics 172:2621-2633. doi:10.1534/genetics.105.052175

Bjarki Eldon, Matthias Birkner, Jochen Blath and Fabian Freund 2015. Can the site-frequency spectrum distinguish exponential population growth from multiple-merger coalescents? Genetics 199: 841-856. doi:10.1534/genetics.114.173807

Fernando Racimo 2015. Testing for ancient selection using cross-population allele frequency differentiation. Genetics 202:733-750.

Joshua G. Schraiber and Steven N. Evans and Montgomery Slatkin 2016. Bayesian inference of natural selection from allele frequency time series. Genetics 203: 493-511. doi:10.1534/genetics.116.187278

Appointments to positions at the University of Iceland are made in consideration of the Equal Rights Policy of the University of Iceland.

The University of Iceland has a special Language Policy (

The School of Engineering and Natural Sciences employs ca. 360 people in academic positions. The School offers an international working environment, with the number of international employees and students increasing each year. Currently about quarter of all employees and graduate students are international. There are around 2900 students at the School, divided into six faculties, including approximately 350 MS students and 150 doctoral students. Research institutes at the School are the Science Institute that divides into the Institute of Earth Sciences and Institute of Physical Sciences, Institute of Life and Environmental Sciences, Engineering Research Institute and the Institute for Sustainability Studies which is an interdisciplinary institute and belongs to the five schools of the University of Iceland.

The University of Iceland is the largest teaching, research and science institute in Iceland and is ranked among the top 250 universities in the world by Times Higher Education.

More information about the University of Iceland can be found at the University of Iceland website, Relocation Service (

Further information

For further information, please contact Einar Arnason (


The application deadline is through the 16th July, 2018

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