An outstanding opportunity is available either for a postdoc (≤3.5 years) or 
for a Ph.D. studentship (3 years) to work on the ecological and evolutionary 
genomics of fur seals.  The position is available in Joe Hoffman's research 
group ( in the Department of Animal Behaviour at 
Bielefeld University.  The project runs from now until the end of 2021 and is 
funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) within the recently approved 
collaborative research centre (SFB/TRR 212) entitled: A Novel Synthesis of 
Individualisation across Behaviour, Ecology and Evolution: Niche Choice, Niche 
Conformance, Niche Construction (NC3).

The project:  The successful candidate will exploit and continue to build upon 
an exceptionally detailed long-term study of Antarctic fur seals (Arctocephalus 
gazella) at Bird Island, South Georgia.  High quality genome and transcriptome 
assemblies have already been generated and microsatellite and high density SNP 
data will be available for ≤7000 marked individuals spanning a time series from 
the mid 1980's to the current day.  The aim of this project (sub-project A01 of 
the collaborative research centre) is to determine how fitness variation is 
shaped by interactions between individual genetic quality (inbreeding) and the 
social environment within breeding colonies.  We will collect highly detailed 
observational and biometric time-series data from mother-offspring pairs in two 
neighbouring colonies of high and low social density.  We will then dissect 
apart the mechanistic underpinnings of fitness variation using a combination of 
endocrinological and immunological profiling, gene expression profiling, 
high-density SNP genotyping and methylation profiling.  The result will be an 
unprecedentedly detailed understanding of the behavioural, physiological and 
genetic mechanisms underpinning fitness variation in a wild vertebrate, which 
will have important implications for understanding ecological and evolutionary 
dynamics as well as adaptation to climate change.

Postdoc applicants: We seek a bright and highly motivated postdoc with a strong 
PhD in a relevant topic (e.g. population genetics, behavioural genetics, 
evolutionary or conservation genomics).  We are looking for two main attributes 
in particular: (i) The candidate must have a deep understanding as well as 
practical experience of working with genomic data (experience of gene 
expression profiling and / or whole-genome resequencing would be particularly 
desirable) and be proficient in writing custom scripts and working in Unix and 
R; (ii) As the project involves two field seasons at South Georgia in the South 
Atlantic, the candidate would ideally also have experience of fieldwork with 
vertebrates.  Experience of working with long-term individual-based datasets 
from wild animal populations would be advantageous but is not a requirement.  
The candidate should be able to work both independently and as part of a 
multidisciplinary team, and a high standard of spoken and written English is 

Ph.D. applicants: Bright and highly motivated Ph.D. candidates should hold a 
B.Sc. or equivalent in a relevant topic (e.g. population genetics, behavioural 
genetics, evolutionary or conservation genomics). An M.Sc. would also be 
advantageous but is not necessary.  Strong quantitative skills (including 
proficiency in R) as well as practical experience of working with next 
generation sequence data (e.g. gene expression profiling or related approaches) 
would be desirable, but training can be provided.  The candidate should also be 
able to work both independently and as part of a multidisciplinary team, and a 
high standard of spoken and written English is expected.

The working environment:  The successful candidate will join the Hoffman lab, a 
young and dynamic group comprising three PhD students and two postdocs.  They 
will be based at the Department of Animal Behaviour at Bielefeld University 
(  The department is the oldest 
of its kind in Germany and currently hosts around six principal investigators, 
ten postdocs and twenty PhD students.  It offers a stimulating international 
environment and an excellent research infrastructure including brand new 
molecular laboratories.  The working language of the Department is English.  
The successful candidate will also have the opportunity to interact closely 
with the cooperation partner (Dr Jaume Forcada) during two Antarctic field 
seasons and via placements at the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, UK.

Bielefeld University is particularly committed to the career development of its 
employees.  It offers attractive internal and external training and further 
training programmes.  Employees have the opportunity to use a variety of 
health, counselling and prevention programmes.  Bielefeld University places 
great importance on a work�Cfamily balance for all its employees.  Bielefeld is 
a city of 325,000 inhabitants with an attractive historical centre and easy 
access to the Teutoberger Wald for hiking and other outdoor pursuits.  It 
offers a very high standard of living and is well connected to most major 
European cities.

The collaborative research centre: The successful candidate will be embedded 
within a larger collaborative research centre (SFB) comprising 18 principle 
investigators, 8 postdocs and 16 PhD students based at Bielefeld University, 
the University of Münster and the University of Jena.  The aim of the SFB is to 
produce a conceptual and empirical synthesis of individualisation across 
behaviour, ecology and evolution.  The SFB will provide exceptional 
opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration and academic networking, 
together with structured training, scientific exchange, equal opportunities and 
early career support programmes.  Full details of the SFB can be found at

Renumeration: Salary will be paid according to Remuneration level 13 (Postdoc 
100%, PhD studentship 65%) of the Wage Agreement for Public Service in the 
Federal States (TV-L) and includes health insurance.

Application procedure: To apply, please provide: (i) a letter of motivation 
including a statement of your research interests and skills and experience 
relevant to the position; (ii) a CV including publication list; (iii) names and 
contact details of two referees willing to write confidential letters of 
recommendation; (iv) for monitoring purposes only, please clearly state your 
nationality, age, sex, and where you saw the position advertised.  All 
materials should be e-mailed as a single PDF to: with 'Postdoc / PhD studentship application' 
(delete as applicable) in the subject line.  Incomplete or incorrectly 
formatted applications will not be considered.  The application deadline is 
April 14th 2018 and interviews will take place shortly thereafter.  We would 
ideally like the successful candidate to start before July 1st, although there 
is some scope for flexibility depending on the timeframe of the most qualified 
applicant.  For further information, please see and / or 
contact Joe Hoffman ( with any informal 
inquiries.  Note: this position is being re-advertised due to a limited 
response to our posting of December 2017.

Bielefeld University has received a number of awards for its achievements in 
the provision of equal opportunity and has been recognized as a family friendly 
university. The University welcomes applications from women. This is 
particularly true with regard both to academic and technical posts as well as 
positions in Information Technology and Trades and Craft. Applications are 
handled according to the provisions of the state equal opportunity statutes. 
Applications from suitably qualified handicapped and severely handicapped 
persons are explicitly encouraged.

Representative publications:
Hoffman JI et al. (2007) Female fur seals show active choice for males that are 
heterozygous and unrelated. Nature 445: 912�C914
Hoffman JI et al. (2014) High-throughput sequencing reveals inbreeding 
depression in a natural population.  Proc Nat Acad Sci USA, 111: 3775�C3780.
Forcada J & Hoffman JI (2014).  Climate change selects for heterozygosity in a 
declining fur seal population.  Nature, 511: 462�C465.
Stoffel et al. (2015) Chemical fingerprints encode mother-offspring similarity, 
colony membership, relatedness and genetic quality in fur seals.  Proc Nat Acad 
Sci USA, 112: E5005-E5012
See for a full list together with 
downloadable PDFs.

Joe Hoffman
Department of Animal Behaviour
University of Bielefeld
Postfach 100131
33501 Bielefeld
+49 (0)521 1062711

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