Postdoctoral Researcher or Doctoral Student Position in Eco-Evolutionary Control Theory

Helsinki University

Finland

December 13, 2021

Description

The Bioinformatics and Evolution group led by Professor Ville Mustonen, based at the Department of Computer Science, the Organismal and Evolutionary Biology Research Programme, and the Institute of Biotechnology, invite applications for a

POSTDOCTORAL RESEARCHER OR DOCTORAL STUDENT POSITION in ECO-EVOLUTIONARY CONTROL THEORY

Evolution connects all living organisms and is the common thread across biology. Organisms evolve to better survive in their environments and to adapt to new challenges. This leads to complex dynamical scenarios, which are presently understood only in a limited way. Understanding evolution is one of the most intriguing scientific topics due to its ability to unify often seemingly disjoint fields of biology. Furthermore, quantitative understanding of evolution is a prerequisite to successfully combat pathogens, pests and loss of biodiversity. Predictability and control of evolving populations is an emerging topic of high scientific interest1,2 and vast translational potential in applications such as vaccine and therapy design. This project will develop eco-evolutionary control theory. For example, we will find out what are the key determinants of controllability of a multi-species bacterial community, and apply the results to therapy optimisation. These projects are at the interface of microbial evolution, statistical physics, and information theory. A highly quantitative background and a burning interest in evolution are required.

The position is part of the Academy of Finland funded project “Eco- evolutionary control theory and its applications to drug therapies”.

Supervision: Professor Ville Mustonen (University of Helsinki); This is a collaborative project with the Lässig Group at the University of Cologne and the Särkkä Group at Aalto University.

Keywords: stochastic optimal control, eco-evolutionary dynamics, evolutionary theory, drug resistance.

1. Lässig M, Mustonen V, Walczak AM (2017) Predicting evolution. Nat Ecol Evol 1(3):1–9. 2. Lässig M, Mustonen V, (2020) Eco-evolutionary control of pathogens. PNAS, 117 (33), 19694-19704

The ideal candidate will have experience in machine learning methods (e.g. reinforcement learning), stochastic optimal control theory and evolutionary theory. However, as our research is cross-disciplinary it is possible to contribute coming from several different fields. Thus, we welcome applications from exceptional candidates, with a highly quantitative background, from other fields.

Desired knowledge, skills and experience:

• PhD/MSc in a relevant subject area (e.g. Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science, Engineering, Statistics, Computational Biology, Bioinformatics) • Ability to develop and analyse novel mathematical models and read mathematical literature • Ability to work independently, organise workload, and communicate ideas and results • Strong publication record • Proven record in problem solving, data analysis and generation of novel ideas • Experience in formulating statistical models and applying them to real data • Proficiency in a scripting language (e.g. Python) and UNIX/Linux, in a compiled language (e.g. C++) and cluster based computing.

Please submit your application as a single pdf file which includes:

• CV and list of publications • a copy of your transcript records (i.e. printout of the courses completed during MSc/PhD) • contact details of two references (e.g. MSc/PhD thesis supervisors) • a cover letter with a description of your research interests.

The salary of the postdoctoral researcher will be based on level 5 of the demands level chart for teaching and research personnel in the salary system of Finnish universities. In addition, the appointee will be paid a salary component based on personal performance. The starting salary of the postdoctoral researcher will be ca. 3200–3500 euros/month, depending on the appointees' qualifications and experience. The appointee must hold a doctoral degree at the start of the employment contract.

The salary of the doctoral student will be based on level 2 of the demands level chart for teaching and research personnel in the salary system of Finnish universities. In addition, the appointee will be paid a salary component based on personal performance. The starting salary of the postdoctoral researcher will be ca. 2250-2400 euros/month, depending on the appointees' qualifications and experience. The appointee should either already have the right to pursue a doctoral degree at the University of Helsinki by the start of the appointment, or apply for the right and obtain it within the probationary period of six months of their appointment. If the candidate does not already have the right to pursue a doctoral degree at the University of Helsinki, it must be applied for separately, please see: https: // www. helsinki.fi/ en/research/doctoral-education/the-application- process-in-a-nutshell.

The University of Helsinki offers comprehensive services to its employees, including occupational health care and health insurance, sports facilities, and opportunities for professional development. The International Staff Services office (https: // www. helsinki.fi/en/university/working-at-the- university) assists employees from abroad with their transition to work and life in Finland. A six-month trial period will be applied.

Please submit your application through the University of Helsinki Recruitment System via the link Apply for the position. Applicants who are employees of the University of Helsinki are requested to leave their application by signing to https: // msap.helsinki.fi.

The closing date for applications is 13 December 2021 at 23:59 EEST, start date for the position is negotiable and the duration is at least two year.

For more information, please contact Prof. Ville Mustonen (v.mustonen@helsinki.fi).

The University of Helsinki welcomes applicants from a variety of genders, linguistic and cultural backgrounds, and minorities.

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