PhD fellowship - Evolution of vertebrate non-coding sequences and genome size

Deadline: 01.11.2021


Nord University

Global challenges demand new insight, innovative solutions and local legitimacy. Nord University is a young university with strong regional ties and a global perspective. We are committed to delivering relevant educational programmes and research, with a focus on blue and green growth, innovation and entrepreneurship, and welfare, health and education. Nord University has 11,500 students and 1,350 employees at nine study locations in central and northern Norway.

Faculty of Biosciences and Aquaculture (FBA) educates people with the aim of promoting sustainable and innovative development to meet global challenges in food production, climate and environment. The faculty is an international arena for education, research and knowledge dissemination, with employees and students from 25 different countries. The faculty offers a PhD in Aquatic Biosciences. FBA has 900 students and 160 employees in Bodø and Steinkjer. The professional community is organised into the following divisions: Aquaculture, Ecology, Genomics and Animal Science, Production and Welfare.

Read more: www.nord.no/en/fba

About the position

A 3-year PhD fellowship is available at the Faculty of Biosciences and Aquaculture, Nord University (Bodø, Norway).

We are offering a PhD position to study the evolution of vertebrate non-coding sequences and genome size. Although the vertebrate protein coding gene repertoire is relatively stable, genome size varies by several orders of magnitude from 0.3 to around 50 gigabases (e.g. pufferfish vs. lungfishes). The roles played by this variable non-coding DNA remains hotly debated, with options ranging from ‘mostly junk’, to ‘almost all functional’. Similarly, what evolutionary pressure have contributed to the genome size variance remain unknown.

Recent advances in high-throughput sequencing technologies have resulted in the availability of large numbers of well assembled genomes as well as sequence variance data from a growing number of wild species subject to natural selection. This makes it possible to not only infer how genome size has changed, but also to investigate the likely evolutionary processes underlying these changes through the use of population genetics methodologies.

This project will make use of around 200 whole genome sequences and phylogenetic and population genetic approaches to determine how and why non-coding sequences evolve. The research includes both methods development and analyses of sequence changes in non-coding sequence. The research will make use of the highly variable teleost genome sizes in order to identify the evolutionary pressures and mechanisms underlying genome size evolution.

The proposed research is pure bioinformatics, and the student will need to gain an understanding of sequence alignment and phylogenetic tree building approaches and be able to efficiently implement at least some of these. In order for this the student should be or become proficient in R, C (or C++), SQL, Bash and a general-purpose scripting programming language like Perl or Python.

Qualification requirements

MSc or equivalent in bioinformatics, computational biology, computer science, physics, mathematics, biology (given computational experience) or similar.

Grade average of B or better (or equivalent score) both for the programme in total and the master’s thesis.

The candidate must have some programming experience and will ideally have a strong background in statistics. Students of computational biology, computer science, physics, mathematics and biology (given computational experience) are encouraged to apply.

Proficiency in oral and written English is essential and knowledge of a Scandinavian language is beneficial for the position.

The successful candidate will join the PhD program in Aquatic Biosciences at Nord University and is expected to complete the study within the three-year project period.

The candidate should fulfill the admission requirements and participate in the training component stipulated in regulations of the PhD program.Application for admission to the program must be submitted within three months after taking up the position. For admission requirements and regulations, see our web page.

We offer

The annual salary for doctoral researchers (code 1017) is set at wage level 54, LR 20, NOK 491.200,- in the Norwegian State Salary Scale. Suitably qualified candidates may be placed in code 1378.

  • Advantages within the Government Pension Fund for borrowing, insurance and pension.
  • Creative and collegial working environment
  • A workplace with steady progressive development
  • Flexible working hours
  • Active university sports team

General information

The person who is appointed must abide by the applicable laws, agreements, and directives. The responsibilities and duties associated with the position may change with future reorganization at Nord University.

The public sector workforce is expected to reflect the diversity of the population in general. Nord University therefore encourages qualified candidates with disabilities, gaps in their CV, immigrant backgrounds or different life experience to apply. Nord University practices moderate allocation according to gender quotas in accordance with the Basic Agreement for State Employees.

If applicants indicate they have disabilities or gaps in their CV, their details may be used anonymously for the purposes of governmental annual review

Contact information

Further information about the position can be obtained by contacting :


Applications must be submitted electronically by November 1th 2021.

Applicants for this position are required to provide the following:

  • Motivation letter outlining the candidate’s suitability for this position and relevant experience (maximum 1 page)
  • A research outline specifying how the candidate proposes to implement the project (maximum 1 page)
  • Curriculum vitae, including a list of publications (maximum 3 pages)
  • Certified copies of academic degree transcripts and any other relevant qualifications
  • Contact details for at least two referees
  • Signed consent form PhD (if relevant)

All documents must be uploaded as attachments to the electronic application form.

It is the applicant's responsibility to submit the complete documentation within the deadline.

After the application period has expired a list of applicants will be published. Note that, in special cases, the identity of particular applicants to a position may be made public even when that applicant has requested that their application be processed confidentially. Applicants requesting an exemption from publication of their identity must explain their reasons for doing so in their application. In this case, advance notice will be given in the event of a decision to make any information about the applicant public.

Refnr. 30072101

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