PhD Student Position Insect Phylogenomics Microbiomes, Endosymbionts, in the Simon Lab, UConn

The Simon lab at the University of Connecticut seeks creative and

motivated PhD

students interested in phylogenetics, molecular phylogenomics,

bioinformatics, and/or

symbiont-host interactions (endosymbionts and/or microbiomes) to begin

in the fall of

2018. Experience preferred but not required.

Applicants will participate in an NSF sponsored project entitled:

Exploring Symbiont

Biodiversity and Complexity in the Family Cicadidae to study the

co-diversification and

interaction between cicadas, their primary “obligate” endosymbionts,

their secondary

“facultative” endosymbionts and their gut microbiota.

Cicada obligate endosymbionts have recently been demonstrated to exhibit


and unprecedented genome diversity. Since cicada symbionts are largely

unknown our

work will result in considerable biodiversity discovery. We hypothesize

that gain or loss

of host-symbiont consortium members during cicada phylogenetic history

will be

correlated with internal or external environmental changes. We are most

interested in

the timing of symbiont consortium changes. For example, does the gain of

a secondary

(facultative) endosymbiont facilitate the breakdown or loss of primary


endosymbionts? Or does the breakdown or loss of the obligate

endosymbiont allow

invasion by a secondary endosymbiont? Broader impacts will involve

collaborations with

team members in the US, India, NZ, and Fiji.

Senior Personnel and collaborators on the project include: Thomas

Buckley (NZ),

David Marshall, John Cooley, John McCutcheon, Emily and Alan Lemmon,

Chris Owen,

Beth Wade, Al Sanborn, Dan Mozgai, Max Moulds (AU), Ben Price (UK),

Martin Villet

(ZA), Deepa Agashe (IN), Krushnamegh Kunte (IN), Sudhanya Hajong (IN),

Cong Wei

(CN), Hong He (CN), Daniela Takiya (BR), Tatiana Ruschel (BR), Pablo Pessacq

(Argentina), Claudio Veloso (Chile), Peter Lockhart (NZ, FJ), and

numerous cicada

researchers around the world.

Interested and qualified PhD candidates should send an email describing


motivation, skills, and research experience/interests along with a CV,

GPA, GRE and

TOEFL (if relevant) scores. Applicants should also arrange to have

letters sent letters

sent by three referees who are familiar with the candidates work. Strong

applicants will

be contacted to schedule an informal Skype interview. Applications to

UCONN (early

admission) are due December 15th with rolling admission thereafter.

Financial support

for Ph.D. students is available via research assistantships from our NSF


teaching assistantships, and university fellowships, but applications to

outside funding

sources are also strongly encouraged. Send all material to

The successful candidates will join the EEB Department at the University

of Connecticut

and also have opportunities to work in the laboratories of

collaborators. The EEB

department is a diverse, highly collegial and interactive group of

scientists. Relevant to

these positions, we are particularly strong in Systematics with eight

faculty members

whose major focus is phylogenetic systematics and half a dozen others

who use

phylogenetics in their work. We offer three graduate courses in

systematics (Principles

and Methods of Systematics, Molecular Systematics, and Phylogenetic


plus numerous relevant grad seminars. There is a strong symbiont group

on campus

that includes members of EEB and Molecular and Cell Biology. EEB also

has strengths

in phenotypic plasticity and functional morphology, global change

ecology, behavior,

and organismal evolution, ecology and conservation.