Graduate position: ArizonaStateU.WeevilSymbiontEvolution

E-mail inquiries ( are strongly encouraged.

Applications are accepted until December 15, 2018; with a preference date
of December 01, 2018.

Apply to the Evolutionary Biology Ph.D. Program:
Apply to the M.Sc. in Biology Program:

The Franz Lab of Insect Systematics, Evolution, and Biodiversity
Informatics at Arizona State University is seeking a highly motivated M.Sc.
or Ph.D. (preferred) candidate for the U.S. National Science
Foundation-funded project: “Weevils of Sonora: Discovering species
distributions and historical patterns of symbiont associations”. We are
looking in particular for candidates interested in addressing molecular
phylogenetic and -genomic research tasks and questions related to the
evolution of weevil gut symbionts. At least two years of Research
Assistantship funding are available; with additional years to be supported
through a variety of sources.

Public abstract (see
“This project addresses a gap in our understanding of insect biodiversity
within and adjacent to the southwestern United States. The Mexican State of
Sonora shares a 375 miles-long border with Arizona, and has a large
biodiversity of insect fauna that remains very poorly known. In the case of
beetles in the weevil superfamily, less than 100 species have been
documented, yet nearly 1,000 species – many of them new to science – are
expected to occur in Sonora. Weevils are economically important; thousands
of species have either detrimental (crop pest) or beneficial (biocontrol)
ecosystem impacts. This project will create a new collaboration between
researchers and students at Arizona State University and two Mexican
universities, with the goal of thoroughly sampling the weevil diversity of
Sonora and publishing the results in a dynamic and openly accessible
on-line checklist. Longstanding questions about the evolution of weevil
diversity, and its relationship to their gut-inhabiting bacteria and host
plant diets, will also be addressed. The project will mentor two doctoral
students and undergraduate students in the concepts and methods of modern
systematics and biodiversity data science. A multi-faceted education and
outreach program will include the creation of a flashcard-based K-3
textbook on regional insect diversity and functional natural history.

The project includes an extensive field work and collection curation
component, expected to yield at least 5,000 unique species/locality
instances of research-ready specimens in the weevils (Coleoptera:
Curculionoidea). Field-to-data dissemination workflows will benefit from
further improving the Symbiota software platform, with new options to
publish data packages to external journals. The checklist will include
updated taxonomic names, all specimens, species distribution maps, host
plant records, images, species profile pages, and an interactive
identification key to the Sonoran weevil genera as currently recognized. A
well-structured metagenomics sequencing study of the gut content of more
than 100 species in eight targeted weevil lineages will identify both their
plant hosts and bacterial symbiont profiles. This dataset will facilitate
the discovery of numerous symbiont clades, and test novel hypotheses
regarding the relative impact of weevil phylogeny, biogeography, host
associations, and other environmental gradients on the weevils’ observed
symbiont profiles”.

Research in our lab is well balanced between collections-based and
genetic/genomic approaches; with particular strengths in biodiversity
informatics and data science. The lab is closely integrated with the
Hasbrouck Insect Collection and Biodiversity Knowledge Integration Center.
We are committed to open science and an inclusive, equitable, and
team-oriented work environment that promotes the candidate’s career and
personal advancement.