Quantitative analysis of nematode collective behavior

Supervisor: Dr. Serena Ding

The Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior at its sites in Konstanz and Radolfzell offers an international, interdisciplinary, and collaborative environment that opens up unique research opportunities. The goal of our basic research is to develop a quantitative and predictive understanding of the decisions and movements of animals in their natural environment.

The Genes and Behavior Research Group at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior would like to fill the following position with a flexible starting date in 2024. This position is fully funded for a period of three years with a possible one year extension. The workplace will be in Konstanz.

Your project:

We seek a motivated doctoral student to work on the analysis of imaging datasets on various types of nematode collective behavior including aggregation, swarming, and towering. These behaviors are visually stunning, and range from 2D to 3D and from 101 to 105 worms. Each such behavior requires different imaging approaches and analysis techniques, so you will learn to work with different data types and develop suitable methods to extract useful information from our rich datasets. We envisage that you will take a primarily data-driven computational approach in collaboration with our experimentalists, to address how nematodes behave collectively by scrutinizing individual- and group-level dynamics.

Essential requirements:

  • Master’s degree in physical science, data science, engineering, or another relevant field
  • Expertise working with image data and tracking techniques
  • Knowledge of programming languages such as Python or MATLAB
  • Fundamental interest in biological phenomena
  • Willingness and ability to work in an interdisciplinary environment
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills in English

Additional skills that would be an asset, but are not necessary:

  • Knowledge of imaging system hardware design
  • Experience with computational modelling

Our group:

The Genes and Behavior Research Group is headed by Dr. Serena Ding. The group’s research is aimed at understanding the mechanism and evolution of collective behavior in nematodes including C. elegans. We design behavioral assays and imaging hardware to capture behavior, develop tracking and data analysis methods to measure behavior, and employ statistical and modeling approaches to predict behavior. Our group currently consists of eight scientists plus support staff, and we are a friendly and interdisciplinary team embedded within a stimulating international research environment. For more information about the group, please visit https://www.serenadinglab.com/.

Our offer:

The successful candidate will become part of the International Max Planck Research School for Quantitative Behavior, Ecology & Evolution (IMPRS-QBEE), and also benefit from close interactions with the Centre for the Advanced Study of Collective Behaviour in Konstanz. You will therefore work in a dynamic and highly international research environment. Our working language is English. The payment for the position is made in accordance with your experience and qualification within the salary group 13 of the collective agreement for the public service (TVöD-Bund). Questions about this position should be addressed to Dr. Serena Ding.

To apply:

Interested candidates should centrally apply via the IMPRS-QBEE portal and directly to sding@ab.mpg.de by 20 November, 2023. You will need your motivation letter, a CV, a copy of your master’s degree, names and contact details of two scientific referees.

The Universität Konstanz and the Max Planck Society are equal opportunity employers that are committed to providing employment opportunities to all qualified applicants without regard to race, color, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, or disability. They seek to increase the number of women in those areas where they are underrepresented and therefore explicitly encourage women to apply  (Equal opportunity). Persons with disabilities are explicitly encouraged to apply.

They will be given preference if appropriately qualified (contact +49 7531 88 4016).

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