The Yoder Lab at Duke University seeks to hire a senior postdoctoral research scientist interested in the genomics of speciation.
The project is focused on an evolutionary radiation of small nocturnal primates endemic to Madagascar, the mouse lemurs (genus Microcebus). These primates constitute something of a classic “cryptic” species radiation in that they are highly similar morphologically and ecologically, but strongly diverged genetically and geographically. Whereas only two species were recognized in 1992, that number has grown to 25. Research questions focus on understanding the phylogenomic relationships among species, the levels of genomic divergence that separate them, the levels of gene flow (if any) among them, and the underlying genomic signatures that define them and perhaps maintain their species identity. Of particular interest is the question of “what are the forces of selection (sexual and/or natural) that might have driven their diversification and maintain their species identity?”
At present, genomic resources relevant to the project include a high-coverage and near-chromosome level assembly of one species within the radiation (the “gray mouse lemur,” generated in collaboration with the Baylor College of Medicine, Human Genome Sequencing Center), low coverage (~20X) genomes of ten other individuals within the species complex, low coverage (6 – 30X) genomes of ten additional species within the genus, and field samples for another five to ten species. In collaboration with investigators Alison Richard, Laurie Godfrey, and Emilienne Rasoazanabary, we are stewards of a large collection of wild-caught samples (> 200 individuals) of the reddish-gray mouse lemur collected from the Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve — a population that may be in the earliest stages of ecological speciation in sympatry. Finally, via the captive collections of the Duke Lemur Center, and in collaboration with investigators at the Brunoy Centre National de la Recerche Scientifique, we have access to biological samples from thousands of individual gray mouse lemurs now living, or preserved, from fifty years of captive management.
The main duties of the researcher will be managing, processing, and analyzing next-generation sequence data, generating high-quality genome assemblies, subsequent population/speciation genomic analysis, database organization, and most importantly, shared intellectual leadership of the project aims and publication of the results. There will be some molecular lab work, though the research will be largely bioinformatic. The ideal candidate will have experience working with genomic and population genetic data, a strong publication record, and ideally, demonstrated grant-writing skills. Moreover, the candidate will be highly organized, mature, enthusiastic, motivated, with plenty of esprit de corps and joie de vivre!
Starting salary will be in the range of $50K – $60K, dependent on skills and experience. The position is guaranteed with seed funds for two years (assuming a successful first-year review), with continuation possible through successful grant acquisition.
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