PhD fellowship in human population and quantitative genetics

University of Copenhagen


PhD fellowship in human population and quantitative genetics

Inferring patterns of natural selection and complex trait evolution using ancient DNA


The Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, at University of Copenhagen invites applications for a PhD student position at the Lundbeck Foundation GeoGenetics Centre in the University of Copenhagen, in the research group of Fernando Racimo, starting on May 1st, 2019. The Racimo group focuses on using ancient and present-day genomes to understand patterns of selection and admixture over time, and to develop methods to jointly analyze population and functional genomic data. For more information about the group, see: 




The candidate will be able to work with unprecedentedly large ancient genomic datasets from a period spanning the last 10,000 years of human history, in combination with functional datasets and medical biobanks. The focus of the project will be on integrating ancient genomics with population genetic theory and quantitative genetic resources. 


The candidate will have freedom to design their project in consultation with the advisor, and the project can range from theoretical methods development to empirical data analysis. Research topics can include: 1) Utilizing trait-association data from metabolic, neurological and anthropometric studies to learn about the evolution of complex traits in ancient genomes from the Paleolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age; 2) Developing methods to detect genes under positive selection when working with multiple populations related to each other in complex ways; 3) Searching for functional variants that were positively selected in humans over time during major cultural transitions, like the advent of agriculture; 4) Testing among different models of evolution on trait-associated variants over time. 


Research environment 


The fully-funded position will be carried out at the Lundbeck GeoGenetics Centre, a world-leading institution in ancient DNA studies. The candidate will have to opportunity to collaborate with leaders in the fields of paleogenomics, population genetics and quantitative genetics, like Eske Willerslev, Rasmus Nielsen, Martin Sikora and Morten Allentoft. The University of Copenhagen is ranked the 29th best university in the world according to Academic Ranking of World Universities 2018 ( It provides excellent academic programs in biology, bioinformatics, statistics, computer science and mathematics. The GeoGenetics Centre is located in central Copenhagen, Denmark – a city that is ranked among the most liveable cities in the world (see e.g. at 5:56). The candidate will have the opportunity to take courses in bioinformatics, computer science, statistical inference, machine learning, data science, population genetics, paleogenomics, paleoproteomics, and archaeological science, among many others. 




The candidate will have an MSc degree or equivalent, with a background in one or more of the following areas: evolutionary biology, population genetics, computational biology, bioinformatics, genomics, mathematics and/or statistics. The ideal candidate will demonstrate a working proficiency in one or more programming languages commonly used in data science (e.g. experience in Python, R, C/C++, Java or Julia) and have experience in the UNIX operating environment. 


Salary and terms of employment 


The position is covered by the Memorandum on Job Structure for Academic Staff.  


Terms of appointment and payment accord to the agreement between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State.  


The starting salary is currently at a minimum DKK 322,642 (approx. €43,015) including annual supplement (+ pension up to DKK 44,567). Negotiation for salary supplement is possible. 


The application, in English, must be submitted electronically by clicking APPLY NOW below.  




The application should include the following items. Applications that do not follow these requirements may not be evaluated: 

  • A cover letter (max. one page) describing your background, personal qualities, research interests and specific reasons for applying to this position.   

  • Curriculum vitae (max. two pages)   

  • List of peer reviewed publications (if any). You may include papers that have been accepted for publication or are in review.   

  • Transcripts of Diplomas (Master’s degree or equivalent)    

  • Contact details of two persons for references and a very brief description of your relationship to them. Do not attach reference letters.   

The main criterion for selection will be the research potential of the applicant and the above mentioned skills. The successful candidate will then be requested to formally apply for enrolment as a PhD student at the PhD school of Science.  


If you consider applying from abroad, you may find useful information on how it is to work in Denmark and at UCPH in this links: 


The University of Copenhagen wishes to reflect the diversity of society and welcome applications from all qualified candidates regardless of age, disability, gender, nationality, race, religion or sexual orientation. Appointment will be based on merit alone.  


The deadline for applications is March 13th 2019, 23:59 GMT +1 


Part of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), and among Europe's top-ranking universities, the University of Copenhagen promotes research and teaching of the highest international standard. Rich in tradition and modern in outlook, the University gives students and staff the opportunity to cultivate their talent in an ambitious and informal environment. An effective organization - with good working conditions and a collaborative work culture - creates the ideal framework for a successful academic career. 


For further information please contact Assist. Prof. Fernando Racimo:  


Fernando Racimo, Ph.D. 


Assistant Professor in Population Genetics 

Lundbeck Foundation GeoGenetics Centre 

Department of Biology 

University of Copenhagen 

Twitter: @ferracimo 


In your application, please refer to


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