PPost-doc in morphometric analysis in phenotypic evolution and embryonic 

1.Job/ project description: 

The postdoc projects consists in analyzing morphological variation within 
populations and species to test several predictions from theoretical evolution 
and development (evo-devo) studies. This will include actual specimens (from 
different species) and virtual ones coming from mathematical models of 
embryonic development and evolution in populations. Some of these comparisons 
will require helping in the development of new morphometric methods. Some basic 
understanding of evolution and development is highly recommended since the 
project revolves about testing some evo-devo theories with empirical data on 
morphological variation and its morphometric analysis. No actual mathematical 
models of embryonic development would need to be developed since these are 
already done (most of my group is composed of theoretical developmental 
evolutionary biologists working on mathematical models). The applicant, 
however, should have the capacity to think in abstract ways and be able to 
program. The specimens analyzed belong to different animal groups. 
        The research will take place in the Isaac Salazar-Ciudad’s group in the 
Center of Excellence in Experimental and computational developmental biology of 
the Biotechnology Institute of the University of Helsinki, Finland.

The job is for 1 year and renewable for 1 extra year.

2. Background:

Why organisms are the way they are?

Can we understand the processes by which complex organisms are build in each 
generation and how these evolved?

The process of embryonic development is now widely acknowledged to be crucial 
to understand evolution since any change in the phenotype in evolution (e.g. 
morphology) is first a change in the developmental process by which this 
phenotype is produced. Over the years we have come to learn that there is a set 
of developmental rules that determine which phenotypic variation can possibly 
arise in populations due to genetic mutation (the so called genotype-phenotype 
map). Since natural selection can act only on existing phenotypic variation, 
these rules of development have an effect on the direction of evolutionary 

Salazar-Ciudad’s group is devoted to understand these developmental rules and 
how these can help to better understand the direction of evolutionary change. 
The ultimate goal is to modify evolutionary theory by considering not only 
natural selection in populations but also developmental biology in populations. 
For that aim we combine mathematical models of embryonic development that 
relate genetic variation to morphological variation with population models. The 
former models are based on what is currently known in developmental biology. 
Many of our models and theories make predictions about several aspects of how 
morphological variation should be within populations and between species. 
Testing these with empirical data requires advanced morphometrics methods. That 
will be the postdoc job.

Salazar-Ciudad’s group is in close collaboration with Jukka Jernvall’s group 
and other groups within the center of excellence in experimental and 
computational developmental biology. The center includes groups working in 
tooth, wing, hair and mammary glands development. In addition to evolutionary 
and developmental biologists the center of excellence includes 
bioinformaticians, populational and quantitative geneticists, systems 
biologists and paleontologists.

“The Academy of Finland's Centres of Excellence are the flagships of Finnish 
research. They are close to or at the very cutting edge of science in their 
fields, carving out new avenues for research, developing creative research 
environments and training new talented researchers for the Finnish research 
3. Requirements: 

The applicant must hold a PhD in either evolutionary biology, developmental 
biology or, preferably, in evolutionary developmental biology (evo-devo). 
Previous experience in morphometrics is not mandatory but highly convenient. 
Applicants with a PhD in theoretical, mathematical biology or related areas are 
also welcomed. 

Programming skills or a willingness to acquire them fast is required. 

Capacity for abstract and mathematical thinking is required since this projects 
would not consist in applying standard morphometric methods.

The most important requirement is a strong interest and motivation on science 
and evolution. A capacity for creative and critical thinking is also required. 

4. Description of the position: 

The fellowship will be for a period of up to 1+1 years (100% research work: no 
teaching involved). 

Salary according to Finnish postdoc salaries. 

5. The application must include: 

-Motivation letter including a statement of interests 
-CV (summarizing degrees obtained, subjects included in degree and grades, 
average grade).
-Summary of PhD project, its main conclusions and its underlying motivation. 

-Application should be sent to Isaac Salazar-Ciudad by email: 


No official documents are required for the application first stage but these 
may be required latter on. 

6. Deadline:

There is no specific deadline, the position will be filled as soon as a 
suitable candidate is found.

7. Examples of recent publications by Isaac Salazar-Ciudad group.

-Salazar-Ciudad I, Marín-Riera M. Adaptive dynamics under development-based 
genotype-phenotype maps. Nature. 2013 May 16;497(7449):361-4. 

-Salazar-Ciudad I, Jernvall J. A computational model of teeth and the 
developmental origins of morphological variation. Nature. 2010 Mar 

8. Interested candidates should check our group webpage: 


The center of Excellence webpage:


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