Postdoc position: developmental plasticity, Ragsdale Lab, Indiana University

Postdoctoral position: Genetics and evolution of developmental plasticity, Ragsdale Lab, Indiana University

A postdoctoral position is available in the Ragsdale laboratory (, Department of Biology, Indiana University, Bloomington. Our lab investigates the genetic regulation and evolution of developmental plasticity, specifically a polyphenism that involves novel morphological traits. The reference species for this research is the nematode Pristionchus pacificus, an emerging model system for evolutionary developmental genetics, which our lab studies using forward and reverse genetics, transgenics, and genome-wide approaches.

Pristionchus pacificus and other species in its family (Diplogastridae) show discrete developmental plasticity, or polyphenism, in their feeding structures. This allows them to assume alternative ecological roles: specifically, they often develop into either a microbe-feeding or predatory morph in response to different environmental cues. Recent work has characterized several of the genes that make up a “switch” for this developmental decision in P. pacificus, providing a genetic model for an animal polyphenism. Moreover, P. pacificus is embedded in a solid phylogenetic infrastructure of species characterized by polyphenism, its secondary loss, and a broad range of feeding morphologies. Given the laboratory tractability of species of Pristionchus and closely related groups, this system enables the discovery of how genetic factors and their interactions evolve to modify plasticity and plastic traits.

The position is part of a program to study the evolutionary origins and consequences of a genetic mechanism for polyphenism. The project thus offers opportunities to use, for example, comparative functional genetics, including multiple “satellite” species to P. pacificus, and molecular population genetics. A Ph.D. in evolutionary biology, developmental biology, or a related field is required. The position will be funded for two years, with the potential to extend for an additional year. Salary will be commensurate with experience, and full benefits are included.

To apply, please submit (i) a letter of application, (ii) a full CV, (iii) a statement of research interests, and (iv) contact information for three references electronically to ( For best consideration, please apply by August 30, 2019. Expected start date can be as soon as October 1, 2019 but is flexible. Inquiries about the position can be directed to Erik Ragsdale (

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