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Universities of Montana and Nebraska: Postdoctoral Fellowships and Graduate Student Research Assistantships

(posted 2017-09-01)

Program announcement: Genome-to-phenome connections in wild populations

We are pleased to announce the establishment of a new collaborative research and training network created to advance evolutionary and ecological genomics in natural populations. The UNVEIL network (Using Natural Variation to Educate, Innovate, and Lead) is funded by a recent NSF EPSCoR award, and brings together researchers from the University of Montana and the University of Nebraska. The network seeks to advance our understanding of the genetic basis of fitness-related traits in wild populations and to train the next generation of integrative biologists to solve pressing societal challenges in ecological and conservation genomics.

The research and training activities of the UNVEIL network will center around three core projects, which are united by their conceptual focus on adaptation to spatiotemporal environmental variation - high altitude adaptation and hypoxia resistance in deer mice, adaptation to climate change in snowshoe hares and other species that undergo seasonal phenotypic changes, and thermal adaptation in yellow monkeyflowers. Network members and trainees will work collaboratively on these projects to meet the following goals:

1. Advance the science of genome-to-phenome connections through the development of novel approaches for the integration of functional and genomic data.

2. Develop ethical guidelines for the application of genomic interventions for wildlife conservation.

3. Create a unique interdisciplinary training environment to broaden participation in the STEM workforce, and to train integrative biologists that are both technically and ethically equipped to leverage genomic approaches to solve ecological and conservation challenges.

In the coming years, the network will provide a variety of opportunities that may be of interest to the community:

Postdoctoral Fellowships: Over the next four years, we will fund four postdoctoral fellowships within the network. We anticipate filling two of these positions this year. In addition to a competitive salary and benefits package, fellows will be provided generous research funds ($50,000; $25,000/year over two years) to allow them the freedom to creatively extend the core projects in novel directions or to work on complementary questions in independent experimental systems with active mentorship from one or more members of the UNVEIL network.

Graduate Student Research Assistantships: We will also fund graduate student research assistantships on both campuses. Two UNVEIL Diversity Fellowships will be available in the Fall of 2018 and will support one graduate fellow on each campus for a three-year tenure. Additional research assistantships will be available for students to work on aspects of the core projects outlined above.

Annual symposia: Finally, to aid in the exchange of ideas and to advance research and training activities both within and beyond the network, we will hold yearly UNVEIL conferences. These conferences will feature 1.) a scientific program focused on evolutionary and ecological genomics in wild populations, 2.) technical and analytical workshops, and 3.) working group sessions to develop ethical frameworks for the application of genomic interventions for wildlife conservation. We anticipate broad participation from biologists, philosophers, and land managers in the ethics working groups and these sessions will serve as catalysis meetings to formulate policy position white papers, synthesis papers for academic audiences, and ethics training materials.

Specific announcements of all of these activities will be disseminated periodically as deadlines approach, but interested postdoctoral and graduate fellowship candidates are strongly encouraged to contact one or more of the following UNVEIL PIs to discuss these opportunities further:

Zac Cheviron (Ecophysiology and Evolutionary Genomics,
Lila Fishman (Evolutionary Genetics and Genomics;
Jeff Good (Ecological and Evolutionary Genomics,
L. Scott Mills (Population Ecology and Global Change Biology,
Kristi Montooth (Evolutionary and Physiological Genetics,
Colin Meiklejohn (Evolutionary and Speciation Genomics,
Dane Scott (Environmental Ethics,
Jay Storz (Evolutionary genetics and physiology,

General inquires can be addressed to Zac Cheviron (