PhD Fellowship in Statistical and Population Genomics
University of Copenhagen

PhD fellowship in statistical and population genomics - From correlations to explanations: towards a new European prehistory (COREX)

We invite applications for a PhD student position at the University of Copenhagen, as part of the COREX synergy project. Synergy projects represent the top level of European Research Council funding, with a budget of €10 million over six years. In the project “From correlations to explanations: towards a new European prehistory (COREX)” geneticists and archaeologists from the University College London (led by Mark Thomas and Stephen Shennan) join forces with archaeologists from Gothenburg (led by Kristian Kristiansen and Karl Göran-Sjögren), and geneticists from Copenhagen (led by Kurt Kjær, Eske Willerslev and FernandoRacimo). The project will combine prehistoric human genomic, archaeological, environmental, stable isotope and climate data to better understand the processes that shaped our biological and cultural past from the time of the first farmers to the Iron Age.

The applicant will be advised by Assoc. Prof. Fernando Racimo, whose research group focuses on using ancient and present-day DNA to understand patterns of selection and admixture over time, in combination with archaeological and paleo-environmental data, and to develop methods to infer dynamic population processes while accounting for both spatial and temporal variation.


The candidate will be able to work with unprecedentedly large ancient genomic, archaeological and paleo-vegetation datasets from a period spanning the last 10,000 years of West Eurasian history. The focus of the project will be on performing exploratory analyses and developing computational models to connect population genetic processes (population expansions, migrations and admixture), patterns of material culture distribution (i.e. diffusion of technology and art forms), environmental factors (climate, ecozones, subsistence strategy and the presence of pathogens), sedimentary DNA and demographic data (such as population density estimates from radiocarbon date density data). This will be done using a variety of geostatistically-aware models that account for auto-correlations in both space and time.

This will serve as a pioneer example of how to build statistically-supported conceptual bridges between archaeological and genetic inference. Our project will serve to determine what the impact of the movement of people was on the European landscape, simultaneously on multiple scales: continental, regional and local.

The fully funded PhD position will be carried out at the Lundbeck Foundation GeoGenetics Centre, a unique center of research excellence in Denmark, with the aim to understand the evolution of complex traits using ancient DNA. The candidate will have to opportunity to collaborate with leaders in the fields of paleogenomics, sedimentary DNA and archaeology, including Mark Thomas, Stephen Shennan, Kristian Kristiansen, Kurt Kjær, Karl Göran-Sjögren, Eske Willerslev, Ralph Fyfe, Karin Frei and Jesse Woodbridge. The University of Copenhagen is a world-leading institution of higher learning and provides excellent PhD programs in biology, statistics, computer science and mathematics. The candidate will have the opportunity to take courses in bioinformatics, computer science, statistical inference, machine learning, data science, population genetics, paleogenomics, paleoproteomics, and archaeological science, among many others.

The employment as postdoc is a full time position for 3 years. Tentative starting date is 1 March 2022 or after agreement.


The candidate must have an MSc degree or equivalent at the start of the PhD position. The degree can be in one or more of the following areas: statistics, data science, evolutionary biology, population genetics, computational biology, bioinformatics, mathematics, or related areas. The ideal candidate will demonstrate a working proficiency in one or more programming languages commonly used in data science (e.g. experience in Python, R, C/C++, Java or Julia) and have experience in the UNIX operating environment.

As a prerequisite for a PhD fellowship employment, your master’s degree must be equivalent to a Danish master’s degree. We encourage you to read more in the assessment database: Please note that we might ask you to obtain an assessment of your education performed by the Ministry of Higher Education and Science.

Salary and terms of employment

The employment as PhD fellow is full time and for 3 years.

It is conditioned upon the applicant’s successful enrolment as a PhD student at the Graduate School at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. This requires submission and acceptance of an application for the specific project formulated by the applicant.

The PhD study must be completed in accordance with The Ministerial Order on the PhD programme (2013) and the Faculty’s rules on achieving the degree. Salary, pension and terms of employment are in accordance with the agreement between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State. Depending on seniority, the monthly salary begins around 28.597 DKK /approx. 3.845 EUR (October 2021-level) plus pension.

The Lundbeck GeoGenetics Centre at the GLOBE Institute will be the main working place.


The application must include the following items. Applications that do not contain these requirements, may not be evaluated: 

  • A cover letter (max. one page) describing your background, personal qualities, research interests and specific reasons for applying to this position. 
  • Curriculum vitae (max. two pages) 
  • List of peer reviewed publications (if any). You may include papers accepted for publication or in review to be. 
  • Certified copy of original Master of Science diploma and transcript of records in the original language, including an authorized English translation if issued in other language than English or Danish. If not completed, a certified/signed copy of a recent transcript of records or a written statement from the institution or supervisor is accepted.
  • Contact details of two persons for references and a very brief description of your relationship to them. Do not attach reference letters. 

The main criterion for selection will be the research potential of the applicant and the above mentioned skills. The successful candidate will then be requested to formally apply for enrolment as a PhD student at the PhD school of Science.

The application, in English, must be submitted electronically.

Deadline for applications is 5 November 2021.

If you consider applying from abroad, you may find useful information on how it is to work in Denmark and at UCPH in this links:

The University of Copenhagen wishes to reflect the diversity of society and welcome applications from all qualified candidates regardless of age, disability, gender, nationality, race, religion or sexual orientation. Appointment will be based on merit alone.
Part of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), and among Europe's top-ranking universities, the University of Copenhagen promotes research and teaching of the highest international standard. Rich in tradition and modern in outlook, the University gives students and staff the opportunity to cultivate their talent in an ambitious and informal environment. An effective organization - with good working conditions and a collaborative work culture - creates the ideal framework for a successful academic career.

For further information, please contact Associate Professor Fernando Racimo:


Part of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), and among Europe’s top-ranking universities, the University of Copenhagen promotes research and teaching of the highest international standard. Rich in tradition and modern in outlook, the University gives students and staff the opportunity to cultivate their talent in an ambitious and informal environment. An effective organisation – with good working conditions and a collaborative work culture – creates the ideal framework for a successful academic career.


Application deadline: 05-11-2021
Employment start: 01-03-2022
Working hours: Full time
Department/Location: GLOBE Institute

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