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PhD fellowship in ancient dog genomics: Inferring patterns of natural selection and complex trait evolution

The Racimo group invites applications for a PhD student position at the University of Copenhagen. Our group focuses on using ancient and present-day genomes to understand patterns of selection and admixture over time, and to develop methods to jointly analyze population and functional genomic data. This position would be particularly focused on analyzing a large panel of ancient dog genomes and to develop methods to infer patterns of natural selection in dogs in the last 15,000 years.


The candidate will be able to work with an unprecedentedly large ancient genomic dataset of canine samples, from a period spanning the last 15,000 years. The focus of the project will be on integrating ancient genomics with population genetic theory and quantitative genetic resources.

The candidate will have freedom to design their project in consultation with the advisor. Research topics can include: 1) Utilizing canine trait-association data to learn about the evolution of complex traits in ancient dogs from the Paleolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age; 2) Developing methods to detect genes under positive selection when working with multiple populations related to each other in complex ways; 3) Searching for functional variants that were positively selected in dogs over time during major human cultural transitions, like the advent of agriculture; 4) Testing among different models of co-evolution between humans and dogs.

The PhD position is funded by the Villum Foundation, and will be carried out at the Globe Institute, a newly-created research institute in Denmark. The candidate will have to opportunity to collaborate with international leaders in the fields of population genetics of domesticated species, statistical genetics and paleogenomics, including Greger Larson, Laurent Frantz, Alicia Martin, Anders Hansen and Evan Irving-Pease. The University of Copenhagen is a world-leading institution of higher learning and provides excellent PhD programs in biology, statistics, computer science and mathematics. The candidate will have the opportunity to take courses in bioinformatics, computer science, statistical inference, machine learning, data science, population genetics, paleogenomics, paleoproteomics, and archaeological science, among many others.


The candidate will have an MSc degree or equivalent, with a background in one or more of the following areas: evolutionary biology, population genetics, computational biology, bioinformatics, genomics, mathematics and/or statistics. The ideal candidate will demonstrate a working proficiency in one or more programming languages commonly used in data science (e.g. experience in Python, R, C/C++, Java or Julia) and have experience in the UNIX operating environment.

Salary and terms of employment

The employment as PhD fellow is full time and for 3 years. The student will have to enrol as a PhD student at the Graduate School at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. This requires submission and acceptance of an application for the specific project formulated by the applicant, together with the PI, during an initial three-month employment as a research assistant.

The PhD study must be completed in accordance with The Ministerial Order on the PhD programme (2013) and the Faculty’s rules on achieving the degree. Salary, pension and terms of employment are in accordance with the agree­ment between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State. Depending on seniority, the monthly salary begins around 27,363 DKK /approx. 3,661 EUR (October 2019-level) plus pension.


The application should include the following items. Applications that do not follow these requirements may not be evaluated:

  • A cover letter (max. one page) describing your background, personal qualities, research interests and specific reasons for applying to this position.
  • Curriculum vitae (max. two pages)
  • List of peer reviewed publications (if any). You may include papers that have been accepted for publication or are in review.
  • Transcripts of Diplomas (Master’s degree or equivalent)
  • Contact details of two persons for references and a very brief description of your relationship to them. Do not attach reference letters.
The main criterion for selection will be the research potential of the applicant and the above mentioned skills. The successful candidate will then be requested to formally apply for enrolment as a PhD student at the PhD school of Science.

The application, in English, must be submitted electronically by clicking APPLY NOW below.

The deadline for application is 1 March 2020 at 11:59 PM CET. The starting date will be 1 September 2020, but can be negotiated to be earlier or later.

If you consider applying from abroad, you may find useful information on how it is to work in Denmark and at UCPH in this links:, and

The University of Copenhagen wishes to reflect the diversity of society and welcome applications from all qualified candidates regardless of age, disability, gender, nationality, race, religion or sexual orientation. Appointment will be based on merit alone.

Part of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), and among Europe's top-ranking universities, the University of Copenhagen promotes research and teaching of the highest international standard. Rich in tradition and modern in outlook, the University gives students and staff the opportunity to cultivate their talent in an ambitious and informal environment. An effective organization - with good working conditions and a collaborative work culture - creates the ideal framework for a successful academic career.

For further information please contact Assistant Professor Fernando Racimo:

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