Ph.D. position in Plant Conservation and Phylogeography

I am seeking a motivated Ph.D. student to conduct a project with two main objectives. The first is to characterize a trans-Andean migration route for rainforest taxa. This project will use palm taxa (Arecaceae) as case studies to elucidate a pattern of trans-Andean migration across a region of low elevation in the Andes of Loja, Ecuador. There are numerous taxa in the palm family with a disjunct distribution on the pacific side of Ecuador and Colombia (Choco region) and the eastern side of the Andes in Peru and Bolivia (Western Amazonia). Diversification times for taxa on either side of this barrier and a potential directionality of the migration will be inferred through a phylogeographic approach. A second goal is to conduct a conservation genetics study of the palm genus Parajubaea hypothesized to have colonized the Andes from the Atlantic forest of Brazil <22 million years ago. This genus contains only 3 species (did not radiate much), two of which are IUCN threatened with wild populations restricted to Bolivia, where it is economically important. Its reproductive biology and specialized habitat could explain its limited diversification and colonization to the rest of the Andes. Other research questions of interest to the student are welcome within the framework of Neotropical plant evolution. The Ph.D. student will work under the mentorship of Dr. Julissa Roncal and will interact with other graduate and undergraduate students in the team, as well as with collaborators in Ecuador (Dr. Nora Oleas), Colombia (Dr. Maria Jose Sanin) and Bolivia (Dr. Monica Moraes).

Student’s qualifications

A MSc degree in a related discipline (e.g. biology, botany, ecology, molecular biology, bioinformatics)·    Experience in organismic botany, phylogenetics and/or population genetics analyses, and bioinformatics is highly desirable.

Excellent writing, analytical, organization and communication skills. Attention to detail.

Written and oral proficiency in English is mandatory for international students. TOEFL test required for admission to the university, but not the GRE tests.

Position characteristics

Project start date is January 5, 2018. The PhD program comprises four years with an annual stipend of $19,500. The student is expected to teach on average 10 hr/wk during the fall and winter semesters but not in the spring. The department of Biology at Memorial University has 29 faculty members and over 100 graduate students. Memorial University is Atlantic Canada’s largest university offering a multicultural environment. Screening will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled.

How to apply: Interested applicants should send their CV, a one-page statement of research interests and career goals, transcripts, and contact information of 3 references (who have agreed to be contacted) in a single pdf or word file to Dr. Julissa Roncal at Email: jroncal@mun.ca.

For instructions on how to apply to Memorial’s graduate program visit: http://www.mun.ca/become/graduate/apply/index.php

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This summer conferences

We participated at the Peruvian Society of Botany annual meeting in Cuzco giving two oral presentations and at the Canadian Society of Ecology and Evolution with two oral presentations. Time to write up !

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PhD position in Plant Phylogenetic Community Ecology

I am seeking a motivated PhD student to start a project on the Flora of Newfoundland: a molecular DNA approach. This project seeks to understand the phylogenetic diversity of the flora of Newfoundland, and the phylogenetic community structure of different habitats, ecoregions, or geological formations (e.g. African versus North American plates) of the island. Knowledge of how phylogenetically diverse the flora is in different areas will inform conservation actions in the province. The role of plant traits on the historical assembly of these communities could also be addressed, and other hypotheses of the student’s interest. The PhD student will work under the mentorship of Dr. Julissa Roncal, and will interact with other graduate and undergraduate students in the team, as well as with the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Center in Corner Brook (member of NatureServe).

Student’s responsibilities:

  • Fieldwork in Newfoundland to collect missing vascular plant genera (ca. 30). Laboratory work include DNA extraction, PCR, and DNA sequencing (Sanger)
  • Reconstruction of a community phylogenetic tree for all vascular plant genera (ca. 500) using different algorithms
  • Utilize phylogenetic comparative methods to address hypotheses on phylogenetic diversity, community structure and trait evolution

Student’s qualifications:

  • A MSc degree in a related discipline (e.g. biology, botany, ecology, molecular biology, bioinformatics)·    Experience in organismic botany, DNA laboratory work, phylogenetics, and GIS is highly desirable.
  • Excellent analytical, organization and communication skills. Attention to detail.
  • Written and oral proficiency in English is mandatory for international students. TOEFL test required for admission to the university, but not the GRE tests.

Project start date is September 1, 2016. The PhD program comprises four years with an annual stipend of $19,000. The student is expected to teach on average 10 hr/wk during the fall and winter semesters but not in the spring. The department of Biology at Memorial University has 29 faculty members and over 100 graduate students. Memorial University is Atlantic Canada’s largest university offering a multicultural environment. Screening will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled.

How to apply: Interested applicants should send their CV, a one-page statement of research interests and career goals, transcripts, and contact information of 3 references (who have agreed to be contacted) in a single pdf or word file to Dr. Julissa Roncal at Email: jroncal@mun.ca.

For instructions on how to apply to Memorial’s graduate program visit: http://www.mun.ca/become/graduate/apply/index.php

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Welcome Fritz!

New MSc student, Fritz Pichardo, started the program in the Fall 2015. Fritz will work on the phylogentics of the palm tribe Euterpeae.

MSc student Fritz Pichardo

MSc student Fritz Pichardo

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First ELAP student visiting the lab

Victor Jimenez, a MSc student from Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos in Lima Peru, won the ELAP scholarship from the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs to conduct research with us for six months. Victor will evaluate the potential ecological effects on the diversification patterns of Astrocaryum sect. Huicungo (Arecaceae). We are collaborating with Dr. Yolanda Wiersma.

Victor_photo

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Congratulations to Boni and Zobayer!

Boni and Zobayer submitted this month three proposals to obtain additional funds for their theses. Keep up the good work!

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MSc student position in Plant Systematics at Memorial University of Newfoundland-Canada

I am seeking a motivated master student to start a project on the phylogeny and biogeographic history of the tropical plant tribe Euterpeae (Arecaceae). This palm tribe contains 31 species in 5 genera, and will be used as a case study to provide insight into speciation and historical migration of plants amongst tropical American regions and habitats. The student will reconstruct a molecular phylogeny using nuclear DNA sequences, calibrate it using the fossil record or earlier studies, and infer the distribution of ancestral lineages. The MSc student will work under the mentorship of Dr. Julissa Roncal, and will interact with other graduate and undergraduate students in the team.

Student’s responsibilities:

·    Conduct fieldwork in Colombia (Quindio Botanical Garden)

·    Laboratory work include DNA extraction, DNA sequencing and cloning

·    Reconstruction of phylogenetic trees using different algorithms (e.g. Bayesian, Maximum likelihood)

·    Infer diversification times of extant lineages, and the geographic origin of ancestral lineages using different methods.

 Student’s qualifications:

·    A BSc degree in a related discipline (e.g. biology, botany/physiology, molecular biology, bioinformatics, biotechnology)·    Experience in organismic botany, DNA laboratory work, phylogenetics and/or bioinformatics is highly desirable.·    Excellent analytical, organization and communication skills.

·    Written and oral proficiency in English is mandatory for international students. TOEFL test required for admission to the university, but not the GRE tests.

Position Characteristics:

Project start date is May 1, 2015 or September 1, 2015. The MSc program comprises two years with an annual stipend of $17,500. The student is expected to teach on average 10 hr/wk during the fall and winter semesters. The department of Biology at Memorial University has 29 faculty members and over 100 graduate students. Memorial University is Atlantic Canada’s largest university offering a multicultural environment. The city of St. John’s offers nice scenery with numerous walking trails close to campus, bars, concerts, and a very friendly, family-oriented community.

How to apply: Interested applicants should send their CV, a one-page statement of research interests and career goals, transcripts, and contact information of 3 references (who have agreed to be contacted) in a single pdf or word file to Dr. Julissa Roncal at Email: jroncal@mun.ca.This is a newly formed lab with more information at: http://www.mun.ca/biology/jroncal/

For instructions on how to apply to Memorial’s graduate program visit: http://www.mun.ca/become/graduate/apply/index.php

International students with strong credentials are welcome. Screening will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled.

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