Two PhD Positions in Primatology ~

26 de septiembre de 2007

Two PhD Positions in Primatology

We look for two ambitious, highly motivated applicants for three-year PhD positions to work on a comparative study of the energetic aspects of brain size evolution at the Anthropological Institute and Museum (University of Zürich).
In the Swiss National Foundation (SNF) project "The Expensive Brain: Comparative Analyses of
Variation in Relative Brain Size" by K. Isler and C. van Schaik we examine brain size evolution from
an energy-cost perspective. To allow an increase in brain size, either total energy metabolism
must be increased, or the organism reduces energy allocation to other functions such as
production, digestion or locomotion.
The first PhD project will be focused on trade-offs between brain tissue and the digestive tract or
other expensive organs by applying the comparative method on primates or mammals in general.
You will start by compiling published quantitative data and collect complementary data from
dissections of various mammalian species.
The second PhD project investigates the implication of the energy-cost perspective that a
population's brain size is negatively correlated with the frequency of exposure to periods of
unavoidable starvation, as suggested by recent work on orangutans. In addition to a comparative
analysis of published data, you will also collect endocranial capacities from primate genera or
species inhabiting a broad range of habitats with documented seasonal food shortages.
You will be working in an international, multidisciplinary team of primatologists and
paleoanthropologists at one of Europe's leading institutions in this field. Salaries rise from CHF
34000 in the first year to CHF 40000 in the third year.
Interested applicants should have a strong interest in zoology and primatology, a good
background in evolutionary biology, a very good academic track record, be fluent in written and
spoken English and hold the equivalent of a Master's degree. Advanced skills in statistical data
analysis and, for the first project, previous experience with dissections are required.
Candidates should send a letter of application, a curriculum vitae, a transcript of the university
diplomas, contact information for three references, and a summary of the Master's thesis (all
combined to a single PDFs) to Karin Isler at no later than October 31, 2007.
Start of the project is planned for February 1, 2008.

For further information, please contact Karin Isler (

Dr. Karin Isler
Anthropologisches Institut und Museum
Universität Zürich-Irchel
Winterthurerstrasse 190
CH-8057 Zürich

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