Are you a curious scientist, wanting to bridge evolutionary ecology questions to environmental science applications? Does combining field and lab work, and interfacing with policy decision-makers pique your interest? Do you have experience with using environmental DNA (eDNA) or have a desire to learn and apply this approach in aquatic systems to help stem biodiversity loss? If so, the Institute of Environmental Sciences (CML) at Leiden University is looking for a PhD candidate who has experience, and ideally is skilled in, genetic-based laboratory and sampling techniques, but also someone who has an affinity with applying these techniques to study questions relating to invasive species, conservation, and evolutionary dynamics. We are particularly interested in candidates familiar with environmental DNA (or eDNA) and/or evolutionary ecology theory (e.g., speciation, hybridization).
Specifically, the PhD will look at applying a new frontier for eDNA research: denoting hybrid zones using non-invasive methods. The PhD candidate will focus primarily on native-invasive interactions among amphibians. As such, the candidate will work alongside a large group of eDNA specialists and evolutionary ecologists at Leiden University, as well as partnering with other universities (e.g., University of Amsterdam), NGO’s (RAVON) and governmental organizations (e.g., USDA), offering a unique, large, and dynamic research network across multiple countries (and continents). Within the network, the candidate will be expected to liaise with others and travel to various countries across Europe and North America for field sampling.
The PhD candidate will become a member in the laboratory of Dr. Stewart, accompanied by multiple MSc, PhD and postdoctoral researchers. This project has been fully funded through the Dutch VIDI program, and as such you will work closely alongside a similarly funded postdoc. Dr. Stewart is dedicated to an inclusive and open research environment to promote passion, independence, and transferable skills for whatever future career goals the candidate may have. In our research group, we strongly value a collaborative approach. Students will enter an environment of weekly informal meetings to promote progress and cohesion within the larger research group, while also engaging with the larger e3DNA working group (the Dutch eDNA research hub hosted by Dr. Stewart and Dr. Trimbos at Leiden University) that meets twice a month.
If you are an interdisciplinary thinker with a MSc degree in Evolutionary or Molecular Ecology, Biology, Sustainability, Environmental Science (or a related field), this PhD position might be a great fit for you.
You are expected to:
- Be a collegial person but have a proactive attitude towards balancing your research endeavors, particularly field and lab work
- Contribute to a dynamic research group involved in eDNA sampling and analysis both within our institute but also with project collaborators in other countries
- Be comfortable and confident working independently when required (e.g., field work)
- Supervise BSc or MSc students for thesis projects and field sampling
- Attend national and international conferences
- Work with supervisors outlining research methodologies and proposals
- Stimulate students’ collaborative and pro-active attitudes