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PhD: An interdisciplinary study of arthropod moulting

Project Title

An interdisciplinary study of arthropod moulting


University of Lausanne

Supervisors and Institutions

Prof. Allison C. Daley (Institute of Earth Sciences, University of Lausanne), Prof. Marc Robinson-Rechavi (Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne), Prof. Robert Waterhouse (Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne).

Funding Status

Funding is in place for this project

Project Description

We are seeking three PhD students at the University of Lausanne for an interdisciplinary project examining the evolution of arthropod moulting, by integrating paleontological, morphological, molecular and genomic data. Two posts are available at the Department of Ecology and Evolution and one at the Institute of Earth Sciences, all for a maximum of 4 years. These positions are part of a Sinergia project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation.

PhD student 1 will focus on the evolution of conserved moulting modes, combining fossil and molecular data, under the supervision of Prof Allison Daley. The student will contribute paleontological data to a large database of moulting characteristics, and analyse how moulting strategies have changed throughout arthropod evolutionary history. This student will also work together with a postdoc in the same lab and the rest of the project team to identify commonalities in moulting that are linked to terrestrialisation.

PhD student 2 will study the phenotypic plasticity of moulting in semi-terrestrials, and more generally the role of transcriptomics in moulting function and evolution, under the supervision of Prof Marc Robinson-Rechavi. They will work closely with other students and postdocs in the project to establish broad trends in the characteristics of moulting. Together with PhD student 3 and a postdoc in the Hebrew University Jerusalem, they will bridge the pure bioinformatics side of the project with the experimental and paleontological side.

PhD student 3 will characterise genomes of key arthropods for understanding the diversity of moulting, and study the phylogenomics of moulting genes and pathways, under the supervision of Prof Robert Waterhouse. They will work closely with a bioinformatics staff in charge of the assembly and annotation of genomes. Together with PhD student 2 and a postdoc in the Hebrew University Jerusalem, they will bridge the pure bioinformatics side of the project with the experimental and paleontological side.

Job information: Expected start date in position is 01.06.2021 or to be determined. Contract length is 1 year initially, renewable 2 +1 years, maximum 4 years. Activity rate is 100%. Workplace is at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, Faculty of Geosciences and Environment, Institute of Earth Sciences or Faculty of Biology and Medicine, Department of Ecology and Evolution.

Your responsibilities: You will be fully dedicated to research work within this collaborative project. You will also have the opportunity, if you want, to participate in teaching.

Your qualifications: You must have a Master in a relevant field. These posts are best suited to interdisciplinary students who are adept at learning new approaches and working across different research fields. Evidence of having changed fields or worked with diverse people is a plus. Career paths with changes of orientation (e.g. physics to evolutionary biology, or ecology to bioinformatics) will be considered favourably.

For PhD student 1, a strong background in paleontology, evolutionary biology, or earth sciences is required, and experience with paleoecology, quantitative biology/paleontology, or arthropod evolution is desirable.

For PhD student 2, a strong background in bioinformatics, genomics, or quantitative biology is required. Experience in evolutionary biology or in transcriptomics are a plus.

For PhD student 3, a strong background in genetics / genomics, bioinformatics / computational biology is required, and experience with comparative genomics is highly desirable. A demonstrated strong interest in evolutionary biology is required.

For all students, good spoken and written English are a prerequisite.

What the position offers you: You will join a four-lab network of researchers conducting an interdisciplinary study of arthropod moulting by combining multiple research disciplines. As a result, the students will belong to an international collaboration, and travel to member labs to learn new research techniques and approaches. All labs offer state-of-the-art research facilities, and the universities represent vibrant academic environments covering a wide range of biology and earth sciences topics. The students will belong to doctoral programs in Ecology and Evolution, Quantitative Biology, or Earth Sciences, which provide opportunities for professional training and acquisition of highly transferable skills. This is complemented by a wide range of activities (retreats, symposia, student life). Student 1 will also belong to the Doctoral Program of Western Switzerland (CUSO) in Earth Surface Processes and Paleobiosphere. Students 2 and 3 will also be part of the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics and its PhD training network. The positions are fully funded. Salary and benefits are internationally highly competitive. Additional funding for consumables, computing, and to attend international conferences is available. We offer a nice working place in a multicultural, diverse and dynamic academic environment. Opportunities for professional training, a lot of activities and other benefits to discover.

Contacts for further information:
For PhD 1, contact Prof. Allison Daley (
For PhD 2, contact Prof. Marc Robinson-Rechavi (
For PhD 3, contact Prof. Robert Waterhouse (

Your application: Deadline is 01.04.2021.
Only applications through the website ( will be considered. Please send the following documents in a Word or PDF format: Your CV; Publication list; Copy of your diplomas; Cover letter indicating your preferred start date and the position(s) to which you are applying; A letter detailing what your most meaningful research experience is to date and why, and what accomplishment—academic or not—to date are you proudest of and why; Name and contact information of 3 potential referees.

Contact Name

Allison Daley

Contact Email

Link to More Information

Closing Date

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Expiry Date

Thursday, April 15, 2021
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