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International Union for the Study of Social Insects

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Here you will find details of social insect related job vacancies, studentships and grants currently available. If you have any social insect related vacancies that you would like to have advertised here, please e-mail to INSECTS@bio.ku.dk. All advertisements must include either a closing date for applications, or a date on which they may be removed from the web site. This page was last modified on Thursday, September 28, 2023

Overview of vacancies on this page:

Postdoc: "Wildposh" (Wild pollinators and pesticides), Royal Holloway University, London

PhD: Consequences of genomic changes during the evolution of ant slavery, Mainz, Germany

Postdoc: Evolution and Molecular Regulation of Insect Cognition, Mainz, Germany

Two postdocs: Insect Sentience, Queen Mary University of London

Postdoctoral Research Assistant: Cognitive Control of Invasive Ants, Regensburg, Germany

Postdoc: The origin of sociality in Hymenoptera, University of Exeter, Cornwall

Postdoc : Protein evolution in the course of evolution of social complexity, Münster / Frankfurt

PhD and MS positions: Ant Behavior and Ecology, University of Central Florida

Postdoc: the molecular regulation of learning and forgetting in ants, Mainz, Germany

PhD: Swarm Construction: Ant-Inspired Processes for Teams of Building Robots, Macquarie University

Postdoc: "Wildposh" (Wild pollinators and pesticides), Royal Holloway University, London

Application deadline: 29 September 2023

Applications are invited for the post of Postdoctoral Research Assistant in the Department of Biological Sciences.

We are seeking a 2-year Postdoctoral Research Assistant, starting in January 2024, to join the research team responsible for implementing WildPosh, a European-funded consortium project that seeks to evaluate the risks of exposure of wild pollinators to pesticides across Europe. This project will involve contributors across multiple countries that include academics and industry partners, and is expected to make major contributions to shaping environmental risk assessment of plant protection products at EU and national levels. The postholder will be based within the research teams of Professor Mark Brown and Professor Elli Leadbeater, and will be responsible for developing, reviewing and implementing field methods for collection of nectar and pollen from a wide range of plant species, including work with live bees. They will also manage a network of other laboratories that will perform matched experiments across Europe. The post is an excellent opportunity for a postdoctoral scientist with a strong interest in pollinator conservation and applied policy and practice.

The successful candidate will have a PhD in a relevant subject area within the Biological Sciences (at or near completion), and a strong record of publication within their subject area as appropriate to career stage. A full clean driving licence that is valid in the UK is essential. Experience of ecological fieldwork is essential, as is experience of work with flowers or flower-visiting insects. Knowledge of GIS systems would be an advantage. A record of working with external collaborators is desirable, and evidence of strong project management skills will be important. We are seeking a researcher who will contribute actively to our departmental community through participation in research activity, research seminars, lab meetings, mentorship initiatives and outreach. The postholder will be expected to be available to travel to consortium meetings across Europe and international conferences, and must be available to complete fieldwork in the SouthEast of England that may involve residential stays away from home.

In return we offer a highly competitive rewards and benefits package including:

The post is based in Egham, Surrey where the University is situated in a beautiful, leafy campus near to Windsor Great Park and within commuting distance from London. It is not suitable for hybrid working.

For an informal discussion about the post, please contact Mark Brown and Elli Leadbeater (Mark.Brown@rhul.ac.uk; Elli.Leadbeater@rhul.ac.uk). Applicants are strongly advised to get in contact before submitting an application.

For queries on the application process the Human Resources Department can be contacted by email at: recruitment@rhul.ac.uk

Please quote the reference: 0923-418

Closing Date: 23:59 BST, 29th September 2023

Interview Date: Week beginning 16th October 2023

For further details and to apply please visit: https://jobs.royalholloway.ac.uk/Vacancy.aspx?ref=0923-419

Posted 21/9/2023

PhD: Consequences of genomic changes during the evolution of ant slavery, Mainz, Germany

Application deadline: 1 October 2023

Join our international team as a graduate student to investigate the consequences genomic changes during the evolution of dulotic social parasitism. Follow up on the recent discovery that slavemaking ants have convergently lost odorant receptors and investigate the ability of these ants to perceive odors. What are the consequences of these changes for their behavior and processing of odorant information in the brain? This innovative project combines behavioral and neurobiological experiments as well as gene expression and bioinformatics analyses. Our aim is to reveal whether hosts can perceive more odors than slavemaking ants, by performing odor perception screens using antennal electrophysiology. We will examine antennal transcriptomes to uncover shifts in the expression of odorant receptor genes. Our goal is also to study brain anatomy to determine whether the loss of odorant receptor genes has led to a reduction in glomeruli in the antennal lobes. Finally, slavemaker specific candidate genes will be identified and functionally characterized through the use of RNAi and behavioral screens.

Work in an international team with neurobiologist Carlotta Martelli, evolutionary biologists Jürgen Heinze and Barbara Feldmeyer, and bioinformatician Erich Bornberg-Bauer, and direct supervisor Susanne Foitzik. Funding is secured over 3 years, and the position could potentially be extended. You will be integrated into the GenEvo graduate program (https://www.genevo-rtg.de/), which provides a close-knit community of graduate students and molecular and evolutionary biology training and methodological courses such as on bioinformatics.

Applications are open until October 1, 2023. To apply, please send a letter of motivation, CV with publication list, and contact information for two reviewers to Susanne Foitzik at foitzik@uni-mainz.de.

Posted 21/9/2023

Postdoc: Evolution and Molecular Regulation of Insect Cognition, Mainz, Germany

Application deadline: 1 October 2023

Postdoctoral Researcher Position at the iomE Mainz, Germany: Uncovering the Evolution and Molecular Regulation of Insect Cognition

Join us as a postdoctoral researcher at Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, Germany, investigating the molecular foundations of cognition in Cataglyphis ants. Uncover the complexities of insect navigation and the equilibrium between memory formation and forgetting. Partnering with Dr. Inon Scharf (Univ Tel Aviv, Israel) and Dr. Romain Libbrecht (Univ Tours), our research, funded by the German Science Foundation (DFG), builds upon pioneering experiments investigating (epi-)genetic influences on ant cognition during spatial orientation. 

With a PhD in evolutionary biology, molecular genomics, or bioinformatics and a good publication record, you possess what is needed for this position. Funding is secured over 20 months, and the position could potentially be extended. Be part of the Institute of Organismic and Molecular Evolution at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz and a team of researchers working on the evolution of gene regulation https://www.genevo-rtg.de/, combining behavioral experiments, evolutionary theory, molecular biology and bioinformatics. 

Applications are accepted until October 1st, 2023. To apply, send a letter of motivation, CV with publication list, and contact details of two referees to Susanne Foitzik at foitzik@uni-mainz.de.

Posted 21/9/2023

Two postdocs: Insect Sentience, Queen Mary University of London

Application deadline: 11 October 2023

Two Postdoctoral Research Associate positions are available at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) on the Open Philanthropy-funded project: Addressing key evidence gaps in the science of insect sentience.

Are insects sentient? The question is urgent. Insect farming is on the rise, presented by its supporters as a creative solution to the problem of feeding the world while combating climate change—but feared by critics to be an animal welfare catastrophe. Recent work on bees (emotion-like states and cognitive biases, play behaviour, cross-modal object recognition, interval timing, metacognition and motivational trade-offs based on memories) points to a capacity for conscious experiences in these insects. There is fragmented evidence across insects to indicate there may be a substantial risk of pain-like experiences in some species. Nonetheless, one of the perceived advantages of insect farming is that there are (supposedly) no ethical concerns. Globally, trillions of insects are slaughtered annually by methods such as microwaving, baking or boiling without anaesthesia; many are simply starved to death.

The successful candidates will work under the supervision of Profs Lars Chittka (QMUL) and Jonathan Birch (LSE) to explore the question of sentience, and its ethical implications, in two commonly farmed insects, black soldier flies and house crickets.

About You

Candidates should have a PhD (or close to completion) in Biology, Psychology, Neuroscience or a similar field. Experience with behavioural tests, video analyses, statistics and data evaluation are essential, as is a track-record of high quality publications. Self-motivation, ability to work as part of a team and excellent research management and presentation skills are essential.

About Queen Mary

At Queen Mary University of London, we believe that a diversity of ideas helps us achieve the previously unthinkable.

Throughout our history, we’ve fostered social justice and improved lives through academic excellence. And we continue to live and breathe this spirit today, not because it’s simply ‘the right thing to do’ but for what it helps us achieve and the intellectual brilliance it delivers.

We continue to embrace diversity of thought and opinion in everything we do, in the belief that when views collide, disciplines interact, and perspectives intersect, truly original thought takes form.


We offer competitive salaries, access to a generous pension scheme, 30 days’ leave per annum (pro-rata for fixed-term), a season ticket loan scheme and access to a comprehensive range of personal and professional development opportunities. In addition, we offer a range of work-life balance and family-friendly, inclusive employment policies, flexible working arrangements, and campus facilities, including an on-site nursery at the Mile End campus.

The posts are based at Mile End campus. They are full time (35 hours per week), fixed term for 2 years, with an expected start date of January 2024. The salary is Grade 4/5 in the range of £37,182 - £44,722 per annum, inclusive of London Allowance.

Informal enquiries should be addressed to Prof Lars Chittka via: l.chittka@qmul.ac.uk

For further details and to apply for the role, please visit: https://www.qmul.ac.uk/jobs/vacancies/items/8935.html?fbclid=IwAR1jQi5m4X-xrqGOs8snqNSIWUYbmbugG09rlcikw1Z6y-VjPbu-GFxS8uQ

The closing date for applications is 11 October 2023. Interviews are expected to be held shortly thereafter.

Posted 28/9/2023

Postdoctoral Research Assistant: Cognitive Control of Invasive Ants, Regensburg, Germany

No specific deadline, but please apply as soon as possible.

2 year post-doc position: Developing and field-testing novel approaches to invasive ant control

We are looking for a postdoctoral researcher to bring our ERC-funded project 'Cognitive Control' to fruition.

The aim of COGNITIVE CONTROL is to gain fundamental insights into collective cognition and apply them to the emerging global challenge of invasive animal control. Invasive ants are ecologically devastating, economically damaging, and almost impossible to control. Ants are protected physically and by social immunity. However, their cognitive abilities are almost universally ignored, and offer novel angles of attack.

Over the last three years, we have identified some simple interventions which may improve invasive ant control methods. This includes adding psychoactive ingredients to baits to reduce foraging round-trip time, and psychological manipulations like strategic odour use. The aim of this post-doc is to bring these methods from the lab into the field, running large scale baiting experiments in Spain, within a national park heavily impacted by invasive Argentine ants. We plan to deploy toxicants in alginate hydrogel beads, with and without the addition of psychoactive or psychological manipulations, in order to compare the effect of adding these manipulations to control efficacy. The post-doc will be responsible for working out the details of the large-scale field experiments, managing the student staff hired to help with the fieldwork (working closely with our colleagues in Spain), take part in the fieldwork and data collection, analyse the results, and write any resultant manuscripts in collaboration with the rest of the project team. In addition, outside the fieldwork season, the post-doc will work on bringing similar manipulations to controlling pest ants in buildings, in collaboration with our industrial partner.

The position is set to start in January 2023, but we will continue searching until a suitable candidate is found.

Candidates require:

Also advantageous are:

For more information, or to apply, contact Dr Tomer Czaczkes (tomer.czaczkes@ur.de). For more information about the lab, visit our website: www.animal-economics.com.

Applicants should send: their C.V., a personal statement of motivation, and the contact details of at least one previous supervisor willing to provide a letter of reference.

The successful candidate will be employed at full time researcher rates for Germany (§ 2 Abs. 1 WissZeitVG, TV-L E13, 100%), c. 4100-6000 euro gross per month depending on years of qualifying experience.

Note: This advertisement is not legally binding. The official advertisement (German only) may be found at https://www.uni-regensburg.de/universitaet/stellenausschreibungen/lehre-forschung/index.html. But be warned: it won't be very informative.

Posted 21/9/2023

Postdoc: The origin of sociality in Hymenoptera, University of Exeter, Cornwall

Application deadline: 23 October 2023

A 3 year full time NERC-funded postdoctoral position is available to starting during January 2024 in the research group of Professor Jeremy Field, based in the Centre for Ecology & Conservation, University of Exeter, Cornwall Campus, UK (https://ecologyconservation.exeter.ac.uk/staff/profile/index.php?web_id=Jeremy_Field). The successful applicant will be part of an exciting and novel project using UK-based field experiments and molecular work to test the roles of trade-offs and plasticity in the origin of sociality in Hymenoptera (wasps, bees and ants). There could also be comparative, theoretical or transcriptomic work depending on how the project develops and on the interests and aptitudes of the postholder. The Centre for Ecology & Conservation (https://ecologyconservation.exeter.ac.uk/) provides an environment that is exceptional on a world scale for conducting research in evolution and ecology, including several large research groups that focus on social evolution and ecology in insects, vertebrates and microbes.

Applicants will possess a relevant PhD or equivalent qualification in evolutionary/behavioural ecology or a related field of study. Candidates who will have submitted their PhD thesis before the job start date but not yet had their viva will also be considered. The successful applicant will be able to work collaboratively and supervise the work of others such as field assistants. They will have excellent data analysis skills, enjoy fieldwork and will possess a driving licence that is valid in the UK. While the postholder is expected to already have some of the skills required for the work, they will be able to obtain training and advice in areas where they lack experience.

The closing date for completed applications is 23 October 2023. Interviews are provisionally expected to take place during 9-10th November 2023. The latest possible job start date is 1 February 2024. Applications from both UK and non-UK citizens are welcome.

For full details, including how to apply, enter the job reference number (R87175) as a Keyword in the University of Exeter job search engine at:
https://jobs.exeter.ac.uk/hrpr_webrecruitment/wrd/run/etrec105gf.open?wvid=3817591jNg (or https://jobs.exeter.ac.uk/)

Informal enquiries to: j.p.field@exeter.ac.uk

Posted 21/9/2023

Postdoc : Protein evolution in the course of evolution of social complexity, Münster / Frankfurt

Application deadline: 15 December 2023

The candidate will investigate the genomic basis of convergent slave-maker evolution in ants, a system which has already dazzled Darwin and where one species exploits the social system of their host species. Both diverged from a recent common ancestor. The three independent origins of slave-making in the nine investigated closely related species (of which we avail high-quality genomes) allows investigating specific predictions with regards to these fascinating evolutionary phenotypic changes and associating these to genomic changes. The PostDoc position will be based in Münster (Bornberg group) or Frankfurt (Feldmeyer group) and closely linked to another project (Foitzik group in Mainz and Heinze group in Regensburg) which aims at functionally testing some of the candidate genes which have already been identified or will be identified in this project. Tenure will be for 3 years.

Related publication:
Feldmeyer, B., Gstöttl, C., Wallner, J., Jongepier, E., Séguret, A., Grasso, D. A., Bornberg-Bauer, E., Foitzik, S., & Heinze, J. (2022). Evidence for a conserved queen-worker genetic toolkit across slave-making ants and their ant hosts. Molecular Ecology 31, 4991–5004. https://doi.org/10.1111/mec.16639

For more details of the position, please see https://www.uni-muenster.de/Rektorat/Stellen/ausschreibungen/st_2031509_sk15.html

We look forward to receiving application (to ebb.admin@uni-muenster.de) by 15 December 2023. Anticipated starting date is flexible within the first half of 2024.

Posted 28/9/2023

PhD and MS positions: Ant Behavior and Ecology, University of Central Florida

No deadline given, but review of applications will start immediately

PhD and MS positions are available in the laboratory of Dr. Christina Kwapich (https://www.christinakwapich.com/) at the University of Central Florida (https://sciences.ucf.edu/biology/). Graduate students are expected to develop research questions and conduct field work in Florida, present their research at national and international conferences, and participate in the daily intellectual life of the laboratory and Department of Biology. Major research areas in the lab include: The biology of myrmecophiles and myrmecomorphs (ant-associated crickets, spiders, beetles, etc.), comparative ant colony organization, production ecology of seed harvesting ants, and ant nest architecture. Graduate positions are fully funded through a combination of Teaching and Research Assistantships. Positions also include health insurance and tuition waivers.

Required qualifications:
A deep interest in organismal biology, a desire to conduct demanding fieldwork in a hot and humid environment, and strong written communication skills are expected. For MS positions: A BS in animal behavior, entomology, evolution and ecology, or a related field is required. For PhD positions: A BS in one of the above fields and demonstrated research productivity (publication or MS thesis) are required.

Application process:
Before applying, students should familiarize themselves with recent publications from the laboratory and watch posted research talks on the lab webpage. For consideration, students should contact Dr. Kwapich at Christina.Kwapich@ucf.edu with the following materials:

Review of applications will begin immediately for positions starting August of 2024. If invited to formally apply to the graduate program, additional application materials will be due December 1st (https://sciences.ucf.edu/biology/graduate/applying/).

Posted 21/9/2023

Postdoc: the molecular regulation of learning and forgetting in ants, Mainz, Germany

Position is open until filled, but may start as early as July 2023

An 18-month postdoctoral position is available at Johannes Gutenberg Mainz, Germany, starting from 1 July 2023 (or later). The work will be carried out in the research group headed by Dr Susanne Foitzik and in collaboration with Dr Inon Scharf (Univ Tel Aviv, Israel) and Dr Romain Libbrecht (Univ Tours) and is funded by the DFG (German Science Foundation). Extension of position might be possible. 

The proposed project aims to investigate the molecular underpinnings and fitness consequences of spatial learning in the context of foraging in Cataglyphis ants. Experiments on the influence of epigenetic regulators on the ability of foraging ants to learn and forget their way through a maze were conducted by our collaborative team in Israel. The task of the postdoc is now to analyze the transcriptional basis and epigenetic changes underlying these cognitive performances. 

PhD and demonstrated experience through publications in the field of evolutionary biology, molecular genomics and bioinformatics.

Interested candidates should apply by sending (1) a letter of motivation, (2) a CV with publication list and (3) the names, institutions and email addresses of three references to Susanne Foitzik at foitzik@uni-mainz.de.
The Position is open until filled, if interested send a short email announcing your interest to apply.

Posted 9/6/2023

PhD: Swarm Construction: Ant-Inspired Processes for Teams of Building Robots, Macquarie University

Application deadline: 1 October 2023 (though can be filled earlier)

Lead Supervisor: Chris R Reid, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia

Background: Construction and manufacturing can be dangerous, wasteful industries — prime candidates for automation by teams of mobile robot builders. However, our understanding of how to program robots for teamwork is limited. This project aims to understand how colonies of weaver ants build complex silk nest structures using decentralised, self-organised processes.

The project: The first phase will utilise individual tracking techniques to follow worker positions, coupled with frequent 3D-scanning of the emerging nest structure, to characterise the individual-level behaviours and interaction rules used at each stage of construction. This data will be used to assemble a theoretical framework, validated by simulation modelling and robophysical tools, that explicitly links individual-level behaviour to team-based coordination and stage transitions, and finally emergent structural outcomes. This framework will be transformational in our understanding of a range of other complex systems in nature and engineering. Insights from the biology and modelling phases of the project will be combined to deliver the first generation of bio-inspired robots that use teamwork to adaptively 3D-print complex structures without the need for oversight or pre-planning.

The investigation spans concepts of behavioural ecology, computational science and robotic engineering, and candidates with experience in one or more of these fields will be desirable.

This is a fully funded PhD position open to students worldwide.

How to apply:
Please follow the instructions at:

Contact info:
Dr Chris R Reid / chris.reid@mq.edu.au

Posted 24/2/2023

Vacancies will be advertised on this page until the closing date for applications, or, where no firm closing date is given, for a maximum of 3 months. If a position has been filled in the meantime, please let the webmaster know.

This site is maintained and promoted on the Internet by David Nash. email to: DRNash @ bio.ku.dk
Last modified Thursday, September 28, 2023