Postdoctoral Fellow

The Opportunity:

We are looking to appoint a Postdoctoral Fellow Scientist to join Lawniczak group at the Wellcome Sanger Institute to lead on two large scale targeted sequencing projects on flying insects. These projects have distinct motivations but are operationally and conceptually similar. Both projects are large in their networks and scale of collections and the successful applicant should be keen to fully engage with our partners.

About the Projects:

The primary objective is to use targeted sequencing approaches (both single and multi marker) at large scale on individual flying insects to study change over space and time in the context of biodiversity (for UK insects) and malaria (for African malaria mosquitoes). This will require the development and implementation of innovative analytical methods, reports, and data presentations.

Project 1 is BIOSCAN, a global project initiated by the International Barcode of Life to simultaneously study species diversity, interactions, and dynamics using DNA barcoding. We will be leading BIOSCAN UK on flying insects and have partnered with a number of agencies in the UK to collect and study thousands of individual flying insects each month for five years across the country. The postdoc will help get this project operating smoothly at Sanger (together with a wider team already working
on this) and then lead on data presentation and analysis, studying change in species abundance, diversity, and interactions over space and time as the project progresses and working with others to develop digestible and informative data visualisation and reports.

Project 2 is conceptually similar to BIOSCAN but focused on malaria transmitting mosquitoes in Africa. Here we will be using a targeted sequencing panel that we have already developed (60 mosquito nuclear markers, 2 plasmodium mitochondrial markers) that simultaneously reveals species, population structure, and malaria transmission patterns when applied to many individual Anopheles mosquitoes. The postdoc will be involved in all aspects of technology improvement and data analysis for this amplicon panel, assisting with wet-lab and design improvements where needed and analysing the results from thousands of individual mosquitoes each month. Again, there are interesting spatiotemporal analyses to be done on species ranges and transmission pattern and because more sequencing data is generated for each individual than traditional DNA barcoding, there are opportunities to use these data to investigate for example karyotypes, haplotypes, divergence and diversity and how this varies within and between species over space and time.

Both projects are exciting because of their potential impact and because of their scale. Over the course of the five years, we expect to sequence 1M insects in BIOSCAN and 500k African Anophelines. The projects require creativity to make the most of the data as well as to ‘future-proof’ as much as possible the biological samples so they are of value for other projects including for example long read genome sequencing. We have already begun work in this area, but refinements will be required and there are opportunities to develop additional targeted sequencing panels on other insect groups (e.g. hoverflies).

About You:

You will have a blend of wet and dry lab experience, an interest in insects, especially Diptera, and a dedication to both conservation and malaria elimination. You will be creative and dedicated to making use of the samples and the resulting data to maximise the benefits to malaria and biodiversity research while carrying out interesting evolutionary genetics research.

Essential Skills

PhD in molecular biology, statistics, bioinformatics, population genetics, ecological genomics, or other relevant area of molecular or quantitative analysis
Experience of computer programming for statistical analysis and/or of bioinformatic methods for processing next-generation sequencing data
Excellent analytical, organisational, and problem solving skills
Ability to deliver high-quality scientific outputs as evidenced by publication record
Ability to execute complex analytical projects involving multiple partners
Ability to build collaborative working relationships with internal and external colleagues
Demonstrates inclusivity and respect for all

Ideal Skills

Experience processing large datasets on parallel computing clusters

Other information

Due to Covid 19, the Wellcome Genome Campus closed for all but essential functions and facilities. As we begin restarting our science, we have implemented measures to support our staff on site including one way systems, enhanced cleaning and increased facilities for handwashing. You can learn more about our campus and our return to research here. This role will require working on site in the lab predominately. Full details of working on site can be discussed during the interview stage.

Flexible Working

We appreciate the importance of achieving a healthy work-life balance and support this with a number of benefits, including a flexible working policy for those who may wish to apply to amend their working pattern or arrangement. We welcome applications for this position that are looking for flexible working, such as flexible start and finish times, and equal consideration will be given to individuals regardless of their working preferences.
You can find out more about joining us as a Postdoctoral Fellow here

Application Process:

Please apply with your CV and Cover letter outlining your suitability for the role.

Application Instructions: 

Please apply on our website using this link:

Application Closing Date: 
28 February