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: is a newly formed lab with more information at:

For instructions on how to apply to Memorial’s graduate program visit:

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


About Julissa Roncal

I am an Assistant Professor in the Biology Department at Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada
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