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  3. PhD position The eco-evo-devo of social personalities (1.0 FTE)

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PhD position The eco-evo-devo of social personalities (1.0 FTE)

We are looking for a talented and enthusiastic evolutionary or behavioural ecologist for a fully funded 4-year PhD position. The successful applicant will work on a multidisciplinary project aimed at understanding the emergence of social personalities, using an integrative approa

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Broerstraat, Groningen, Groningen
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
38 - 38 uur
€ 2972 - € 2972 per maand


We are looking for a talented and enthusiastic evolutionary or behavioural ecologist for a fully funded 4-year PhD position. The successful applicant will work on a multidisciplinary project aimed at understanding the emergence of social personalities, using an integrative approach which considers the interplay of ecology, evolution, and development. To this end, the PhD candidate will work with researchers from three different groups: Dr Marion Nicolaus (Animal Ecology), Prof. Franjo Weissing (Theoretical Biology) and Prof. Ton Groothuis (Animal Behaviour), which are all embedded within the Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences (GELIFES).

In most animals, individuals differ systematically in social competences and behaviour. The existence of such ‘social personalities’ is intriguing both from an eco-evolutionary perspective (when does the local environment select for diversification in social behaviour?) and from a mechanistic perspective (how do personality differences emerge in individual development?). Using an integrative eco-evo-devo framework, the successful applicant will address three questions: How do the ecological conditions at different life stages lead to the development of social personalities (eco-devo)? How does the interplay of environment-dependent selection and developmental mechanisms affect the stability of social personalities (evo-devo)? What are the eco-evolutionary consequences of mechanisms like social niche choice or social niche construction (eco-evo)? These questions will be addressed by studies on three-spined sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus), both in the field and in a semi-natural environment (replicate series of ponds connected by corridors allowing dispersal and habitat choice). The empirical research will be complemented by theoretical modelling to derive testable predictions and to provide a framework for interpreting the empirical results.

The PhD candidate will receive varied and cutting-edge research training, with ample opportunities for following advanced courses, workshops and conferences, complemented by training in transferable skills and teaching. The successful applicant is committed to conduct independent and original scientific research, to report on this research in international publications and presentations, and to present the results of the research in a PhD dissertation, to be completed within 4 years. PhD candidates are expected to contribute 10% of their overall workload to teaching.


The ideal candidate is highly motivated, hardworking, ambitious, creative, and has affinity with empirical behavioural ecology research and with theoretical modelling. The successful candidate will have the following required qualifications:
• an MSc degree with specialization in biology (ecology, evolution and/or animal behaviour) or related disciplines
• the ability to work independently and in a team
• excellent command of the English language
• excellent communication and presentation skills, both in word and in writing.

Preferentially, the successful candidate has some experience with modelling and knowledge of a programming language (R, C++).


The University of Groningen offers a salary of € 2,325 gross per month in the first year to a maximum of € 2,972 gross per month in the final year (salary scale Dutch Universities), based on a full-time position (1.0 FTE) excluding a 8% holiday allowance and a 8.3% end of the year bonus.
The position offered is for four years. Each successful candidate will first be offered a temporary position of one year with the option of renewal for another three years. Prolongation of the contract is contingent on sufficient progress in the first year to indicate that a successful completion of the PhD thesis within the contract period is to be expected. A PhD training programme is part of the agreement and the successful candidate will be enrolled in the Graduate School of the Faculty. The conditions of employment are available at the University of Groningen website under Human Resources: https://www.rug.nl/about-us/work-with-us/

The preferred starting date is 1 April 2019.

Application for this position is open until 14 March 23:59 h / before 15 March 2019 Dutch local time by means of the online application form (click on the Apply button below the advertisement on the university website).

Applications for the position should include (as a single PDF file):
• a cover letter explaining the educational background of the candidate and the motivation to apply for this position
• a detailed description of previous research experience, such as obtained in bachelor/master research projects (1-2 pages)
• a comprehensive curriculum vitae, providing details on bachelor and master degrees, work experience, and a publication list (if applicable)
• academic transcripts
• contact details of two or (preferably) three academic references who can provide information on the candidate’s suitability for the position.

Interviews are scheduled to take place in the end of March 2019 in Groningen.

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.

Additional information

Dr Marion Nicolaus

Prof. F.J. Weissing

Conservation Ecology group

Theoretical Research in Evolutionary Life Sciences

Evolutionary Genetics, Development & Behaviour