PhD positions in microbial ecology and macroevolution

PhD student working on the ecology and/or macroevolution of microbial metabolism, using mathematical modeling, bioinformatics and/or experiments.

The Louca Lab at the University of Oregon, Eugene, USA, is seeking PhD students to work on the ecology of microbial (prokaryotic) metabolism, its interaction with large-scale biogeochemical fluxes and/or its role in microbial macroevolution, using any combination of mathematical modeling, bioinformatics, microcosm experiments and/or field surveys. Potential topics include:

  • The statistical properties of global prokaryotic genomic diversity
  • Gene-level and genome-level processes of prokaryotic macroevolution
  • Development and validation of pathway-centric ecological/biogeochemical models
  • The role of genomic structure in the dynamics of ecosystem-scale microbial metabolic networks
  • Experimental and mathematical characterization of microbial system kinetics
  • Development of efficient phylogenetic and phylogenomic computational tools for analyzing global prokaryotic diversity
  • Estimating global prokaryotic phylogenetic/phenotypic diversity
  • Coevolution of microbial diversity with large-scale geological transitions

Skilled prospective PhD students from a wide range of related disciplines, such as biology, physics, environmental studies or computer science, interested in microbial ecology and evolution, are encouraged to consider joining the Louca lab. Experience in programming (any language), bioinformatics (especially genomics and metagenomics), mathematical modeling and/or molecular biology are strong assets but not absolute requirements. The most important skills are creativity, attention to clear deductive reasoning, as well as a strong motivation to learn and to solve problems. 

Additional information is available at:

Interested students are encouraged to directly contact the lab's principal investigator, Stilianos Louca, to discuss potential research projects and application logistics. The 2018 application deadline for the University of Oregon Department of Biology graduate program is December 1st. 


Why join the University of Oregon?
The University of Oregon is a research-focused university, offering an exceptionally intellectually stimulating environment for young researchers. The UO Department of Biology and the Institute of Ecology and Evolution, in particular, house top researchers across a wide spectrum of the biological sciences, with particular strength in microbial ecology and evolution. UO members benefit from acces to an array of continuously growing central facilities, including UO's next-generation sequencing facility, UO's high performance computing facility and UO's material characterization and microscopy center. The UO is one of only two Pacific Northwest members of the Association of American Universities and holds the distinction of a "very high research activity" ranking in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. UO's recently launched interdisciplinary Presidential Initiative in Data Science is pushing UO to the forefront of big-data analysis, which is drastically transforming the biological and physical sciences. Graduate students at UO enjoy a high degree of autonomy, solid fringe benefits and union-secured rights. 

Why live in Eugene?
Eugene is an exceptionally safe, family-friendly and bike-friendly town, located in one of the most idyllic regions of the United States, the Pacific North-West, in beautiful Oregon. Whether it's skiing in the winter, hiking or fishing in the summer, or seeking out hidden hot-springs in the woods, Eugene is an ideal starting point for every nature enthusiast. With UO being one of the largest employer in the region, Eugene enjoys a high density of academics. Public transport in Eugene is well developed compared to national standards, and UO is conveniently situated within walking distance of the town centre, the beautiful Willamette River and Alton Baker Park. Despite its idyllic location and peacefulness, Eugene has been largely spared of the ongoing craziness of the housing/rental market in other nearby cities. Consequently, students and postdocs tend to enjoy much higher living standards than in other comparably popular areas such as San Fransisco, Seattle, or Boulder-Colorado. This means less financial worries, and more energy to focus on your science and precious personal life. 

Application deadline:
Start date: ASAP
Location: University of Oregon, Eugene, USA