Postdoctoral Researcher in Ecological Network Analysis

University of Helsinki, Finland is offering postdoctoral associate position in mathematics. This position is available for three years in the first instance. Candidates are welcome before January 20, 2020.

The University of Helsinki, founded in 1640, is one of the world's leading universities for multidisciplinary research. The University of Helsinki has an international academic community of 40,000 students and staff members, and it offers comprehensive services to its employees, including occupational health care and health insurance, sports facilities, and opportunities for professional development. The International Staff Services ( office assists employees from abroad with their transition to work and life in Finland.

The Department of Agricultural Sciences invites applications for a

in ecological network analysis for a fixed term of three years. The starting date is flexible, with the optimal date being April 1, 2020. There will be a trial period of six months in the beginning.

The position is placed in the Spatial Foodweb Ecology Group (, and the successful applicant will be part of the Research Centre for Ecological Change (…) at the University of Helsinki.

The postdoctoral project will be focused on developing conceptual and methodological tools to model, forecast and mitigate the effects of climate change on plant-pollinator networks. While theoretical in scope, the project will be driven by real-world challenges, and will benefit from empirical data collected in multiple contexts.

The project is part of a wider, cross-disciplinary consortium, the Pollination of Nepal’s Micronutrient-rich Crops in a Changing Climate, funded by the Climate Change and Health (CLIHE) Academy Programme and the Belmont Forum Climate, Environment and Health calls, which aims at tackling a key threat from climate change: the loss of access to key dietary micronutrients in insect-pollinated crops. With pollinator loss disproportionately harming developing countries, the project seeks to develop efficient strategies 1) to predict the effect of climate change on crop pollinators and on the resilience of insect pollinated crops, both in the target system (Nepal) and in a broader ecological perspective; 2) to predict the ensuing impact on local crop production and human micronutrient intake; and 3) to develop a policy and education package to mitigate these threats.

The postdoctoral researcher will support these initiatives by building a general framework for modelling climatic impacts on mutualistic networks. For this, she/he will integrate plant-pollinator data collected by the consortium with available ecological interaction datasets, to tackle important theoretical and methodological open issues in ecological network theory. In particular, she/he will: 1) explore how limits typical of network data collected in poorly accessible areas (for example, the lack of quantitative information on species interaction strength) affect our ability to model/understand dynamic processes (such as co-extinctions and network adaptation/response to perturbations), and identify possible solutions/methodological advances; 2) develop novel modeling approaches to simulate mutualistic networks' response to climate change; 3) build on available ecological and physics theory to select (and possibly advance) suitable existing approaches to identify network vulnerabilities, with the ultimate aim of developing proactive strategies to improve plant pollinator network robustness against specific, real world threats from global change.

To these aims, we are looking for a highly motivated candidate with a strong interest in community ecology, and who is actively pursuing an academic career in ecology. The successful candidate has a solid interest in both theory and modeling approaches in ecology and wants to apply these skills to explore real world problems. Applicants should either have PhD / postdoctoral experience within the field of community ecology, or a PhD from related fields (physics/mathematics) and a strong interest in applying their technical skills to ecological problems. Previous experience in network modelling is considered a particular bonus, but any candidate with a solid interest in numerical ecology and a willingness to learn network science is welcome. Excellent written and verbal communication skills in English, and the ability to think independently and creatively are required. The candidate must demonstrate ability to take initiative and work independently as well as in a team.

The wider research consortium is led by Prof. Jane Memmott at the University of Bristol, UK, with additional members at Harvard University. The Spatial Foodweb Ecology Group itself is composed of twin teams in Helsinki, Finland, and Uppsala, Sweden. The group sustains several activities stimulating interchange of ideas, efficient supervision and peer support. Thus, the overall setting provides a strong platform for the proposed research in terms of support, experience and backup.

The salary of the successful candidate will be based on level 5-6 of the demands level chart for teaching and research personnel in the salary system of Finnish universities. In addition, the appointee will be paid a salary component based on personal performance. The starting salary will be ca. 3300-3800 euros/month, depending on the appointee's qualifications and experience.

Application should include the following documents as a single pdf file: motivational letter (max 1 page), CV (max 2 pages) and publication list. Include also contact information of two persons who can provide a reference letter based on request.

Please submit your application using the University of Helsinki Recruitment System via the Apply for the position link. Applicants who are employees of the University of Helsinki are requested to leave their application via the SAP HR portal. The deadline for submitting the application is 20 January 2020.

In case you need support with the recruitment system, please contact recruitment(at)


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