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2-yr postdoc on Genomics-based Population Demographic Histories for Megafauna

The Department of Biology, Aarhus University, invites applications for a 2-year bioinformatics postdoc position to help overcome key knowledge gaps about past megafauna population dynamics, their drivers, and, linked to this, uncertainties about restoration targets.

We are offering applicants an exciting opportunity to join Center for Biodiversity Dynamics in a Changing World (BIOCHANGE). BIOCHANGE aims to address one of the key challenges facing humanity – how to conserve the diversity of life on a planet heading towards 11 billion inhabitants and facing strong climate change in order to safeguard our natural and cultural heritage, quality of life, the numerous ecosystem services on which society depends, and even the basic functioning of the biosphere. Ecological science is key to overcoming this challenge, and BIOCHANGE works towards this goal via basic research on fundamental Anthropocene ecological dynamics, climate change impact predictions, scenarios, and mitigation options, Big Data ecological approaches, and interdisciplinary perspectives on human-nature relations and solutions.

Starting Date and Period
The position is for 2 years and is available from April 1, 2021 or as soon as possible hereafter, but no later than August 1, 2021.

Job description
Large-bodied mammal species (megafauna) are ecologically important, but have decline worldwide across the last 50,000 years or more under pressure from hunting, habitat loss etc., with these declines still ongoing in many regions. In consequence, megafauna species have special attention in nature conservation and ecosystem restoration. At the same time, there are many unanswered questions about past megafauna population dynamics, their drivers (notably climate vs. human impact), and, linked to this, uncertainties about restoration targets. This postdoc project will address this key knowledge gap through reconstructing population demographic histories for a large number of mammal species worldwide, contrasting megafauna and smaller species. Whole genome sequence data is publicly available as raw data for numerous megafauna species, often from multiple individuals. Such data contain a rich source of information on past demographic changes that can be extracted using population genetics approaches. This bioinformatics project will be based on existing data, and key elements in the work will be to locate and curate the data available such that it can be aggregated in a homogenized database for subsequent population demographic reconstructions to be coupled with relevant ecological modelling.
The postdoc is expected to contribute ideas and concepts to the project and lead the development of at least two high-quality papers based on the project, contribute to the project’s public outreach and teaching, as well as collaborate with other team members, including students, sharing skills, and helping solve problems in her/his area of expertise.

Your profile
Applicants must have PhD degree in bioinformatics, population genetics or quantitative biology (or equivalent), or have submitted their PhD thesis for assessment before the application deadline. Expertise in large-scale bioinformatics analyses is required and familiarity with population genetics principles for inference on population demographics is a great advantage. Experience with ecological niche modelling and interest in megafauna, ecology, and conservation are also an advantage. The successful candidate is expected to have strong collaborative skills, proven abilities to publish at a high international level, and have good skills in English and international applicants who do not have English as their first language must prove strong English language writing skills and fluency.

Who we are
Project PI prof. Jens-Christian Svenning will be the main supervisor. The postdoc will join Svenning’s VILLUM Investigator team within the Center for Biodiversity Dynamics in a Changing World (BIOCHANGE) and the Section for Ecoinformatics & Biodiversity (ECOINF). BIOCHANGE is a center of excellence focused on improving our understanding, predictive capacity, and responses to the ongoing and future dynamics in biodiversity under global change. ECOINF harbors strong expertise in macroecology, remote sensing, and megafauna and vegetation ecology, as well as in ecology and biodiversity broadly. Together BIOCHANGE and ECOINF constitute an ambitious, collaborative and highly international research community. Postdocs and PhD students are encouraged to collaborate within the group, across departments and with other universities. More information about the people and research activities of the group can be found at here and here.
The project will be carried in collaboration with professor Mikkel H. Schierup, Bioinformatics Research Centre (BiRC), a leading expert on population genomics and bioinformatics as well as head of a high performance computing system that will be available for the project.

What we offer
The successful candidate is offered:

  • an ambitious, creative and friendly research environment, inviting lively, open and critical discussion within and across different fields of research
  • a working environment with teamwork, close working relations, network activities among young scientists and social activities
  • a workplace characterized by professionalism, equality and a healthy work-life balance
  • access to a well-developed research infrastructure
  • office space, shared equipment
Place of Work
The place of employment and work is Center for Biodiversity Dynamics in a Changing World (BIOCHANGE) and Section of Ecoinformatics & Biodiversity (ECOINF), Department of Biology, Aarhus University, Ny Munkegade 114, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark.

Contact Information
Applicants seeking further information are invited to contact: Professor Jens-Christian Svenning, phone +45 28992304, e-mail:

Application procedure
Shortlisting is used. This means that after the deadline for applications – and with the assistance from the assessment committee chairman, and the appointment committee if necessary, – the head of department selects the candidates to be evaluated. All applicants will be notified whether or not their applications have been sent to an expert assessment committee for evaluation. The selected applicants will be informed about the composition of the committee, and each applicant is given the opportunity to comment on the part of the assessment that concerns him/her self. Once the recruitment process is completed a final letter of rejection is sent to the deselected applicants.

Letter of reference
If you want a referee to upload a letter of reference on your behalf, please state the referee’s contact information when you submit your application. We strongly recommend that you make an agreement with the person in question before you enter the referee’s contact information, and that you ensure that the referee has enough time to write the letter of reference before the application deadline. Unfortunately, it is not possible to ensure that letters of reference received after the application deadline will be taken into consideration.

Formalities and salary range
Natural Sciences refers to the Ministerial Order on the Appointment of Academic Staff at Danish Universities under the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation.

Application materials
The application must be in English and include a curriculum vitae (which should include your number of citations and H-index from Google Scholar), degree certificate, a complete list of publications and information about research activities.

Appointment shall be in accordance with the collective labour agreement between the Danish Ministry of Finance and the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. Further information on qualification requirements and job content may be found in the Memorandum on Job Structure for Academic Staff at Danish Universities.

Salary depends on seniority as agreed between the Danish Ministry of Finance and the Confederation of Professional Associations.

All interested candidates are encouraged to apply, regardless of their personal background. Research activities will be evaluated in relation to actual research time. Thus, we encourage applicants to specify periods of leave without research activities, in order to be able to subtract these periods from the span of the scientific career during the evaluation of scientific productivity.

Aarhus University offers a broad variety of services for international researchers and accompanying families, including relocation service and career counselling to expat partners. Read more here. Please find more information about entering and working in Denmark here.

Aarhus University also offers a Junior Researcher Development Programme targeted at career development for postdocs at AU. You can read more about it here.

The application must be submitted via Aarhus University’s recruitment system, which can be accessed under the job advertisement on Aarhus University's website.

Aarhus University
Aarhus University is an academically diverse and research-intensive university with a strong commitment to high-quality research and education and the development of society nationally and globally. The university offers an inspiring research and teaching environment to its 38,000 students (FTEs) and 8,000 employees, and has an annual revenues of EUR 885 million. Learn more at

01 January 2021


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