Academic opportunity to study population genetics of Panamanian Zamia species

One (two) MSc position is available for a motivated student interested in the study of population genetics of endemic gymnosperms The MSc program will be pursued at the Biology Department of Laval University (https://www.bio.ulaval.ca/accueil/) and part of the BESS program (CREATE, https://www.mcgill.ca/bess/bess). The project is in collaboration with colleagues of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, INDICASAT and the Universidad de Panamá.

Project description:
Population genomics of endangered Zamia species:

 Recent estimates suggest that 65% of all cycads are endangered (Fragnière et al.
2015, J. Biog.). Among Neotropical countries, Panama has a high endemism with 65% of endemic Zamia species (a total of 17 described for the isthmus, Taylor et al. 2012). Human development and poaching activities due to the ornamental value of the Isthmian zamias are threatening the habitats where these plants naturally occur. As part of a long-term program to study the diversity of Panamanian zamias and their symbionts (nitrogen-fixing bacteria and fungi) we are looking for a motivated MSc student to study the species Zamia pseudoparasitica and Z. nana. Zamia pseudoparasitica, endemic to Central Panama, is the only strictly epiphytic gymnosperm and the genetic diversity is unknown. The project consists in collecting, culturing and genotyping populations of Zamia pseudoparasitica and Z. nana in the country. Additionally, the student will be contributing to the current efforts to assess endophyte diversity, the functional genomics of the association and their chemical diversity using molecular networking. Assessing multiple, sequenced genomic regions of diverged populations of Z. pseudoparasitica and Z. nana will aid in understanding the genetic diversity and channel efforts to pursue genetic and demographic rescue of less diverse populations in Panama.

The successful candidate must have strong field skills, adaptability. Also, it is desirable a strong background in biology and willingness to learn French. We are looking for an individual who is highly self-motivated and can work independently. Field and most lab work will be conducted in Panama, at STRI, while the student must take a few courses (in French) at Laval University. Additionally, the student will be working at the Institute of Integrative Biology and systems of Laval University (http://www.ibis.ulaval.ca/).

To be considered, please send a single PDF file merged from the following parts: CV including publication list, academic transcripts, a statement of research interests not exceeding two pages, and the name of two academic references to juan-carlos.villarreal-aguilar@bio.ulaval.ca. The statement should include the student’s initiative to obtain a fellowship for tuition. Applications will be considered until May 15, 2017, or until the position is filled, whichever comes first. The position is available from the summer/fall of 2017.