Postdoctoral Fellowship in Evolutionary Genomics

Cambridge, MA, USA
Apr 11, 2018
May 09, 2018
Contract Type
Full Time
Job Type
PhD / Doctoral

Postdoctoral Fellowship in Evolutionary Genomics

Faculty of Arts and Sciences


Position Description

Gene flow between butterfly species in the Amazon

The James Mallet Group seeks two Postdoctoral Fellows to investigate the causes and genomic effects of gene flow among species of the butterfly genus Heliconius.

We have recently identified a number cases of hybridization and introgression among a group of closely related species of Heliconius butterflies. In one publication (Simon Martin et al. 2013, Genome Research), we documented that up to 42% of the genome had been exchanged between a pair of occasionally hybridizing species. We now have unpublished evidence from a different pair of Heliconius from the Amazon for an even more extraordinary case. Up to 98% of the genetic material has been exchanged between these two species, leading to very low divergence across most of the genome, punctuated by scattered "genomic islands" of high divergence. In these Heliconius, and in the Anopheles gambiae group of malaria mosquitoes, introgression has swamped the original signal of speciation history, giving a highly misleading impression of phylogenetic relationships across most of the genome.

We aim to understand how this situation could be maintained, and the "speciation genes" involved in keeping such species apart. Genes for differences in flight behavior, ecology and host plant use, pheromones, mating behavior, and genes involved in female hybrid sterility are all of interest. We need to understand the population genetics of the interactions between the species, both empirically via analysis of genome data and functional analysis, and in theory. In doing so, we will advance the understanding of speciation with gene flow, and of introgression among species. It is hoped to apply this understanding to very similar situations among the African malaria mosquitoes and other disease vectors.

Basic Qualifications

• Candidates must have completed their PhD in biology
(biology, molecular biology, integrative biology or similar);
• Relevant experience in population genetics, genomics, functional genetics, and/or data analysis;
• A record of scientific publications

Additional Qualifications

The successful applicants will have:
• An interest in evolution and population genetics
• Laboratory skills, especially in functional genetics or next-generation sequencing
• Bioinformatics, statistics, and data analysis skills. Knowledge of population genetic theory
• Good communication skills, both written and oral
• Field experience is not required, but could be helpful

Special Instructions

Materials should include:
• A cover letter (2 pages maximum) describing your research experience and motivation, with special attention to your training in ecological statistical modeling;
• Curriculum vitae;
• Up to three relevant scientific publications on which you were an author;
• Names, addresses and email addresses for three referees

Application review will begin on December 15, 2017 and will continue until the positions are filled. The target start date can be adjusted to accommodate the selected candidates.

Contact Information

Contact James Mallet ( for questions regarding the position or application process. For further information about OEB visit

Contact Email

Equal Opportunity Employer

We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

Minimum Number of References Required

Maximum Number of References Allowed

Supplemental Questions