PhD position in mathematical evolutionary biology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Plön

PhD position in Mathematical Biology (3 years)

I am looking for a PhD student to join my research group at the Max
Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology.

Evolutionary dynamics of antibiotic resistance on plasmids

The evolution of antibiotic resistance poses a severe threat to modern
healthcare. Clinically relevant resistance is often encoded on plasmids.
Plasmids are extrachromosomal DNA elements that can be transmitted
vertically or be transferred horizontally between cells. The location of
resistance genes on plasmids can lead to special evolutionary dynamics.
The aim of the project is to develop mathematical models for the
evolution and spread of resistance on plasmids. On the mathematical
side, the analysis will mainly be based on branching process theory,
complemented by deterministic ODE systems and stochastic computer
simulations. The position is part of a DFG-funded Research Training
Group (RTG) on "Translational Evolutionary Research". The program brings
together 14 research groups from several institutions to study how
insights from evolutionary biology can be applied to solve problems in
medicine, food production, and wildlife conservation. Projects are
organised in tandems who work on related topics. The tandem partner of
the proposed project is Professor Tal Dagan (University of Kiel). The
student would hence closely interact with a research group that focuses
on experimental evolution and data analysis. The ideal student will be
one who is interested in applying mathematical modeling to gain insights
into biological problems and is enthusiastic about math as well as about
biology. The successful student will learn how to set up and analyse
theoretical models to describe biological processes and become skilled
in using branching process theory as a modeling tool. Applicants should
have a background in mathematics, physics, biology, computer science or
a related field. Good quantitative skills are essential. Prior
experience in mathematical modeling and knowledge of a programming
language (C, C++, Java, R, Python...) is an advantage.

Working environment

The student will join a young group at the Max Planck Institute for
Evolutionary Biology. In our group, we focus on exploring the role of
stochasticity in evolution. In the context of resistance evolution, we
closely collaborate with experimental microbiologists at the University
of Kiel. The group is part of the Department of Evolutionary Theory. The
student will hence be part of a larger community of researchers working
at the intersection of mathematics and biology with many opportunities
to take part in journal clubs, reading groups etc. The Max Planck
Institute is a lively institute with three departments (Evolutionary
Theory, Microbial Population Biology, Evolutionary Genetics) and several
additional research groups. It hosts several workshops per year and
continuously welcomes international short-term and long-term visitors,
creating a stimulating and positive research environment. We maintain
close interactions with Kiel University and belong to the Kiel Evolution
Center. The area is a center of evolutionary biology in Germany.


Plön is a small town, embedded into a beautiful landscape with
innumerous lakes and close to the Baltic Sea. The area provides ample
opportunity for free time activities such as swimming, canoeing, or
biking in a stunning environment. At the same time, the cities of Kiel
and Lübeck (≥200,000 inhabitants) are only half an hour train ride away.
Hamburg (Germany’s second largest city) can be reached within 1.5h by train.


Interested students should send their application (motivation letter,
CV, copies of certificates, contact details of two references) by email
to Please use the code PhD2019-2 in the subject line.

The Max Planck Society strives for gender and diversity equality. We
welcome applications from all backgrounds. The Max Planck Society is
committed to employing more disabled individuals and especially
encourages them to apply. The Max Planck Society seeks to increase the
number of women in those areas where they are underrepresented and
therefore explicitly encourages women to apply.

For further questions, please get in contact with Dr. Hildegard Uecker.
Application deadline is December 15, 2019. However, the position will
remain open until filled by a qualified candidate.


Dr. Hildegard Uecker
Research group Stochastic Evolutionary Dynamics
Department of Evolutionary Theory
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology
Phone: + 49 4522 763-536

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