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Postdoctoral Research Associate / Fellow

University of Exeter - College of Life and Environmental Sciences

Location: Cornwall
Salary: The starting salary will be from £30,497 on Grade E (PDRA level) or from £36,382 on Grade F (PDRF level), depending on qualifications and experience.
Hours: Full Time
Contract Type: Fixed-Term/Contract
Placed On: 4th November 2021
Closes: 2nd December 2021
Job Ref: P79282

The College of Life and Environmental Sciences

This full time post is available from 1 February 2022 on a fixed term basis until 1 February 2025. 

The post

The College wishes to recruit a Postdoctoral Research Associate or Fellow to conduct research on host-pathogen interactions working with Wellcome Trust Sir Henry Dale research fellow Dr Ben Longdon, at the University of Exeter, Penryn campus. 

Host-parasite interactions offer fascinating opportunities to study coevolution, local adaptation and rapid evolutionary change. Our work uses a unique experimental system of up to 50 species of Drosophila and naturally occurring pathogens to ask fundamental questions about pathogen host shifts – where a pathogen jumps from one host species to another. Host shifts are a major source of emerging infectious diseases, with HIV, Ebola virus and SARS-CoV-2 having all jumped into humans from other host species. By taking a comparative approach, with a strong set of hypotheses from ecological and evolutionary theory, we can provide insights into the factors underlying host shifts that will be generally applicable to any group of hosts or viruses.

Understanding pathogen host shifts is critical, especially in light of environmental change. Our model system has provided key insights into host shifts, namely the importance of genetic similarity between hosts. The initial aim of the postdoc is to extend this by examining why viruses can infect some hosts and not others by examining the role pathogen genetics (relatedness) and ecology (interactions between microbes) play in pathogen emergence but there are many opportunities to develop new projects to explore the ecology and evolution of pathogen host shifts. 

About you

The successful applicant at PDRA level will be able to present information on research progress and outcomes, communicate complex information, orally, in writing and electronically and prepare proposals and applications to external bodies. 

The successful applicant at PDRF level will be able to develop research objectives, projects and proposals; identify sources of research funding and contribute to the process of securing funds and make presentations at conferences and other events. 

Applicants will possess a relevant PhD (or be nearing completion for Associate level) or possess an equivalent qualification/experience in a related field of study and be able to demonstrate sufficient knowledge in the discipline and of research methods and techniques to work within and develop established research programmes and methodologies. The successful applicant will be responsible for leading experimental work, data collection and analysis, working closely with the PI and collaborators.

Centre for Conservation and Ecology

The post will be based in the internationally excellent Centre for Conservation and Ecology https://www.exeter.ac.uk/cornwall/research/facilitiesandcentres/cec/. The centre has a huge number of researchers working in ecology and evolution, including a large group of researchers working on host-parasite interactions (including Prof Angus Buckling, Prof Camille Bonneaud, Prof Edze Westra, Prof Robbie McDonald, Dr Xav Harrison, Prof Ben Raymond, Dr Alex Hayward and Dr Stineke Van Houte) and provides an exciting and stimulating research environment.

Further Information

For further information, please contact Dr Ben Longdon, e-mail b.longdon2@ex.ac.uk

Please highlight in your cover letter why you would like to work in our group (www.benlongdon.com), why you are interested in this project, and how your skillset/experience is relevant. 

The closing date for completed applications is 2 December 2021. 

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