The Human Resources Strategy for Researchers

PhD position in Evolutionary quantitative genetics: Understanding evolvability

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    NTNU Norwegian University of Science and Technology
    Biological sciencesBiology
    First Stage Researcher (R1)
    31/05/2020 23:00 - Europe/Brussels
    Norway › Trondheim

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We are looking for dedicated employees to join us.


About the position

The PhD position is part of a project on evolvability financed by the Norwegian Research Council. In brief, evolvability is the ability of organisms to respond to selection. On short timescales, evolvability depends on the amount of additive genetic variance. Yet, evolvability, variation in evolvability and the factors responsible for this variation are poorly understood. To improve our understanding of evolvability, we will synthesize the empirical knowledge on additive genetic variance and identify key factors affecting this property of living organism by performing quantitative reviews and meta-analyses of published results on evolvability. More specifically, we will investigate questions such as: Does variation in life history strategy affect evolvability? Does environmental fluctuation increase evolvability? Ultimately, we will build a large open-access data base on evolvability.

Using newly developed statistical methods to analyze line-cross data, we will also investigate the importance of epistatic interactions in quantitative traits. The PhD student will work with Professor Christophe Pélabon and the post-doc Salomé Bourg at NTNU, Professor Thomas F. Hansen at UiO, Professor Mihaela Pavlicev at Vienna University, senior researcher Geir H. Bolstad at NINA (Trondheim). Part of the work during the first years of the PhD will be located in Oslo or Vienna.

A 3-year PhD position in evolutionary biology is available at the Centre for Biodiversity Dynamics, NTNU (Trondheim, Norway) with Prof. C. Pélabon and Prof.  T. F. Hansen (UiO). The appointment can be extended by up to one year, subject to acceptance of 25% teaching duties in agreement with the Department of Biology.

Duties of the position

The main tasks of the PhD student will be to gather information on evolvability from the literature with the rest of the team and analyze these data to test specific hypotheses about the factors affecting evolvability. Theoretical work on the evolution of evolvability is also planned. The PhD student is thus expected to take the lead of some parts of the project and develop his/her own research questions within the general framework of the project. The position provides an excellent opportunity for students who wish to qualify for future work in both basic and applied research positions and/or wish to pursue a career in academia.

Required selection criteria

PhD candidate:

We seek candidates who have an academic record and interests in evolutionary theory and quantitative genetics and who are highly motivated for theoretical work and data analysis. Good competence in statistics is thus important. Candidates must have completed a master’s degree or second degree (equivalent to 120 credits) with a grade of B or better in terms of NTNU’s grading scale. Applicants who are unable to meet these criteria may be considered only if they can document that they are particularly suitable candidates for education leading to a PhD degree. MSc students who expect to complete their master’s degree studies by summer 2020 are encouraged to apply. Employment will then be postponed until the master’s degree is finished.


The appointment is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants and national guidelines for appointment as PhD, post doctor and research assistant.

Preferred selection criteria

  • Competence in statistical genetics.
  •  Interest for theory.  

  • Willingness to learn and extend new forms of statistical and/or mathematical analyses.

  • Theoretical knowledge of relevant topics in evolutionary biology and quantitative genetics such as the multivariate Lande equation, epistasis, genetic architecture.

  • Experience of meta-analytical work and work with large data bases would be an advantage.

  • Good skills in written and oral English.

Personal characteristics

  • The candidate should be able to work in team but also independently.
  • We are seeking innovative candidates that are able to generate their own research questions within the framework of the project.

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal suitability.

We offer

Salary and conditions

PhD candidate:

PhD candidates are remunerated in code 1017, and are normally remunerated at gross from NOK 479 600 per annum before tax, depending on qualifications and seniority. From the salary, 2% is deducted as a contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.


The period of employment is 3 years (with a possibility for up to one year extension with teaching duties). Appointment to a PhD position requires admission to the PhD programme in Biology https://www.ntnu.edu/studies/phbi.

Appointment to a PhD position requires that you are admitted to the PhD programme in [subject area] (Link to website, if applicable) within three months of employment, and that you participate in an organized PhD programme during the employment period.


The engagement is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants, and the acts relating to Control of the Export of Strategic Goods, Services and Technology. Candidates who by assessment of the application and attachment are seen to conflict with the criteria in the latter law will be prohibited from recruitment to NTNU. After the appointment you must assume that there may be changes in the area of work.

It is a prerequisite you can be present at and accessible to the institution on a daily basis.

About the application

The application and supporting documentation to be used as the basis for the assessment must be in English.

Publications and other scientific work must follow the application. Please note that applications are only evaluated based on the information available on the application deadline. You should ensure that your application shows clearly how your skills and experience meet the criteria which are set out above. 

Joint works will be considered. If it is difficult to identify your contribution to joint works, you must attach a brief description of your participation.

General information

A good work environment is characterized by diversity. We encourage qualified candidates to apply, regardless of their gender, functional capacity or cultural background. 


The city of Trondheim is a modern European city with a rich cultural scene. Trondheim is the innovation capital of Norway with a population of 200,000. The Norwegian welfare state, including healthcare, schools, kindergartens and overall equality, is probably the best of its kind in the world. Professional subsidized day-care for children is easily available. Furthermore, Trondheim offers great opportunities for education (including international schools) and possibilities to enjoy nature, culture and family life and has low crime rates and clean air quality.


NTNU is committed to following evaluation criteria for research quality according to The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment - DORA.

As an employee at NTNU, you must at all times adhere to the changes that the development in the subject entails and the organizational changes that are adopted.

Information Act (Offentleglova), your name, age, position and municipality may be made public even if you have requested not to have your name entered on the list of applicants.

If you have any questions about the position, please contact Christophe Pelabon, email christophe.pelabon@ntnu.no. If you have any questions about the recruitment process, please contact HR Advisor Nina Sandberg, e-mail: nina.sandberg@ntnu.no.

Please submit your application electronically via jobbnorge.no with your CV, diplomas and certificates. Applications submitted elsewhere will not be considered. Diploma Supplement is required to attach for European Master Diplomas outside Norway. Chinese applicants are required to provide confirmation of Master Diploma from China Credentials Verification (CHSI).

If you are invited for interview you must include certified copies of transcripts and reference letters. Please refer to the application number NVD-48/20 when applying.

Application deadline: 31.05.2020

NTNU - knowledge for a better world

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) creates knowledge for a better world and solutions that can change everyday life.

Department of Biology 

We work with global challenges in natural diversity, climate, the environment, health and nutrition. Our expertise in biological processes at all levels – from molecules to ecosystems – contributes to a sustainable society. The Department educate graduates for a wide range of careers in public administration, business and academia. The Department of Biology is one of eight departments in the Faculty of Natural Sciences.

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EURAXESS offer ID: 508753


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