29 May 2008

Post-doc in co-evolution of Darwin's finches and their parasites

And now for a little missive in the "if only I had two heads" category...

I don't think I've ever posted a job advert before, but this is just too brilliant to not. Arriving in my email in-box this morning from the indispensable EvolDir mailing list was this:
Co-evolution of Darwin's Finches and parasites

The Clayton Lab (darwin.biology.utah.edu) at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City is seeking a highly motivated postdoc for an NSF-funded project concerning Darwin's Finches and their parasites. The project, which is based in Utah and the Galapagos Islands, is at the interface of co-evolutionary ecology, immunology, behavior, and conservation biology. Although Darwin's Finches are one of the most famous examples of adaptive radiation, we know relatively little about the role of parasites and pathogens in their ecology, behavior and evolution. Unfortunately, finch populations have recently come under serious threat from the introduced tropical nest fly Philornis downsi. A better understanding of this parasite is urgently needed because of the danger it poses to these iconic birds. The overriding goals of this project are: 1) to conduct rigorous tests of the impact of P. downsi and other parasites on Darwin's Finches; and 2) to determine the ability of the finches to defend themselves against parasites. The project will focus on interactions between P. downsi and the Medium ground finch (Geospiza fortis) on Santa Cruz Island; however, we will also study interactions between other species of finches and their parasite communities. We hope that this work will help conservation biologists protect Darwin's Finches from invasive parasites and pathogens in the
future.

The postdoctoral position is renewable annually for up to three years, depending on performance and funding. The salary starts at $35,000 per year, plus benefits. We are interested in candidates with experience working under physically demanding field conditions. A background in experimental design and statistical analysis is essential, and some experience with population or epidemiological modeling is a plus. Experience with birds and parasites/pathogens is desirable, but not essential. Strong communication skills and experience mentoring graduate and undergraduate students are also desirable. Proficiency in Spanish (spoken and written) is a definite plus.

To apply, send a single email file with the items listed below to Dr. Dale Clayton, c/o Alyssa Farley at: alyssafarley@bioscience.utah.edu
1) CV including info on publications, field experience, and analytical skills
2) One page statement of research interests and future goals
3) Names & contact info (incl telephone numbers) of 3-5 referees who are familiar with the applicant's past research and skills.

Review of applications will start in mid-June and continue until a suitable candidate is found. The position could start as early as August, 2008. The University of Utah is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

Dale H. Clayton, Ph.D.
Professor, Dept. of Biology, Univ. of Utah
257 South 1400 East
Salt Lake City, Utah 84112
Voice: 801-581-6482; Fax: 801-581-4668
To say that this is a rather fine opportunity for someone just finishing their PhD is just a wee bit of an understatement.

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