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Postdoctoral fellowship in human population and quantitative genetics: Inferring patterns of natural selection and complex trait evolution using ancient DNA

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences
University of Copenhagen
Lundbeck Foundation Centre for GeoGenetics

The Racimo group invites applications for a postdoctoral fellow 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.

The candidate will be able to work with unprecedentedly large ancient genomic dataset from a period spanning the last 50,000 years of human history, in combination with functional datasets and medical biobanks. The focus of the project will be on integrating ancient genomics with population genetic theory and quantitative genetic resources, to learn about how humans adapted to their environments as they transitioned from hunting and gathering to agriculture and complex societies, with a particular focus on complex trait evolution.

The postdoctoral candidate will be co-advised by Fernando Racimo (University of Copenhagen) and Rasmus Nielsen (UC Berkeley). The candidate will have some freedom to design their project in consultation with the advisors, and the project can range from theoretical methods development to empirical data analysis. Research topics can include: 1) Utilizing trait-association data from metabolic, neurological and anthropometric studies to learn about the evolution of complex traits in ancient genomes 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 humans over time during major cultural transitions, like the advent of agriculture; 4) Testing among different models of evolution on trait-associated variants over time.

The fully-funded position is for 3 years, and the project will be carried out at the new Lundbeck Foundation Centre for GeoGenetics, a unique center of research excellence in Denmark, with the aim to understand the evolution of complex traits and diseases using ancient DNA. The Centre is located in the newly created Globe Institute at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. The candidate will have the opportunity to collaborate with leaders in the fields of paleogenomics, population genetics and medical genetics, including Martin Sikora, Morten Allentoft, Richard Durbin, Eske Willerslev, Thomas Werge and Laurent Excoffier.

The starting date would be 1 September 2020, but is negotiable.

The candidate will have a MD, PhD, or equivalent doctorate, with a strong background in one or more of the following areas: population genetics, human genetics, genomics, computational biology, bioinformatics, machine learning, data science, mathematics and/or statistics. The ideal candidate will demonstrate a working proficiency in programming and statistical computing (e.g. experience in Python, R, C/C++, Java or Julia) and have experience handling large data sets in the UNIX operating environment.

Salary and terms of employment
The position is full-time commencing on 1 Sseptember 2020 or as soon as possible hereafter.
Salary, pension and terms of employment will be in accordance with the agreement between the Danish Ministry of Finance and AC (Danish Confederation of Professional Associations). Currently, the monthly salary starts at 34,360 DKK/ approx. 4,590 Euro (October 2019-level). Depending on qualifications, a supplement may be negotiated. The employer will pay an additional 17.1 % to your pension fund.

Non-Danish and Danish applicants may be eligible for tax reductions, if they hold a PhD degree and have not lived in Denmark the last 10 years. The position is covered by the “Memorandum on the Job Structure of Academic Staff at Universities of 11 December 2019".

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

Please include

  • Cover letter (half to one page)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Diplomas (PhD degree or equivalent)
  • Description of current research
  • Complete publication list
  • Contact details of two people for references
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:

Application deadline: 15 March 2020, 23.59pm CET

For further information please contact Assist. Prof. Fernando Racimo:

The further process
After the expiry of the deadline for applications, the authorized recruitment manager selects applicants for assessment on the advice of the hiring committee. All applicants are then immediately notified whether their application has been passed for assessment by an unbiased assessor. Once the assessment work has been completed each applicant has the opportunity to comment on the part of the assessment that relates to the applicant him/herself.

You can read about the recruitment process at

The applicant will be assessed according to the Ministerial Order no. 242 of 13 March 2012 on the Appointment of Academic Staff at Universities.

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.

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