Utrecht University – PhD student bioinformatics and the origin of eukaryotes

Job description
You are a PhD student to join our team as part of a project that addresses the origin and ancient evolution of the eukaryotes, funded by a recently awarded NWO VICI grant. The earliest stages of eukaryotic evolution are characterised by a drastic increase in cellular and genomic complexity: already before the last common ancestor of all modern eukaryotes cellular components like the nucleus, cilia, mitochondria, and the elaborate endomembrane system had arisen. You will use our unique in-house collection of eukaryotic genome sequences, some of which have only recently become available, to reconstruct ancestral gene repertoires using bioinformatic techniques. In combination with prokaryotic genome sequences, these repertoires will enable you to elucidate the processes that resulted in the increase in complexity, such as gene and whole-genome duplications, endosymbiosis and horizontal gene transfer.

You, as the ideal candidate, have a background in bioinformatics, data analysis, cell biology, and/or evolutionary biology. You are ambitious, you fit well in our team and you have a strong drive to succeed as a scientist. You will work in a large, dynamic and diverse Computational Biology department. You will be directly supervised by your promotor Prof Berend Snel, and collaborate with two other PhD students and a postdoc within the NWO VICI project.

A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, colleagues from various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.

The city of Utrecht is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands, with a charming old center and an internationally oriented culture that is strongly influenced by its century-old university. Utrecht city has been consistently ranked as one of the most livable cities in the Netherlands.

The Faculty of Science consists of six departments: Biology, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Information and Computing Sciences, Physics and Astronomy, Chemistry and Mathematics. The Faculty is home to 5600 students and nearly 1500 staff and is internationally renowned for the quality of its research. The Faculty’s academic programmes reflect developments in today’s society. Read the overall impression 2016 of the Faculty of Science.

The Theoretical Immunology group at Utrecht University studies the immune system using computational biology, i.e., by mathematical models and bioinformatics. We aim to make immunology a more quantitative science, e.g., by putting numbers on cellular life spans, division rates, killing rates and repertoire sizes. We typically collaborate with immunology labs and help analysing experimental data in quantitative manner. The group takes part in the Utrecht Center for Quantitative Immunology and is embedded in a Theoretical Biology and Bioinformatics group studying various areas in biology with computational approaches.

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