Senior Research Fellow in Computational Modelling of Evolutionary Individuality (Evo-Ego)

Southampton, United Kingdom
£40,931 to £46,047 Per annum
10 Aug 2022
End of advertisement period
13 Sep 2022
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Agents, Interactions & Complexity

Location:  Highfield Campus
Salary:   £40,931 to £46,047 Per annum
Full Time Fixed Term (26/04/2024)
Closing Date:  Tuesday 13 September 2022
Interview Date:   To be confirmed
Reference:  1932322FP

You will join our team to build computational models of evolutionary processes, at the lab of Richard Watson at the University of Southampton.

About the project: 

The Scaling-up of Purpose in Evolution (evo-ego): Connectionist approaches to the evolutionary transitions in individuality

This project (funded by the John Templeton Foundation) investigates the evolutionary transitions in individuality, such as the transition from unicellular life to multicellular organisms. The approach will build on recent developments unifying evolutionary theory with learning theory (Watson & Szathmary, 2016, TREE, 31(2), 147-157). This work converts (connectionist) models of distributed learning and cognition, already well-developed in computer science/neural networks/machine learning, to deepen and expand our understanding of natural evolution. The candidate will use computational modelling to explore the evolution of network structure and its effect on ecological/developmental organisation and evolutionary capabilities. This will characterise the type of relationships and organisation that is needed to convert a collection of (previously) independent evolutionary individuals into a new level of organisation that functions and evolves at a new, higher level of individuality. In particular, we will explore the hypothesis that the conditions that enable evolution to exhibit a transition in individuality are predicted by the conditions that enable learning systems to induce and exploit deep models, a.k.a. deep learning.

You will be based in Southampton, will also work with co-investigators Chris Buckley (University of Sussex, UK.) and Mike Levin (Tufts University, USA). As a part of this team, you will also work closely with PhDs and another post-doc dedicated to this project and on related projects. 

Appropriate skill sets include computational modelling of gene-regulation networks, ecological dynamics/community network modelling, theoretical population genetics, mathematical modelling of biological evolution, social evolution theory, adaptive dynamics, evolutionary game theory, computational individual-based modelling, complex adaptive systems, algorithmic/functional modelling of evolutionary adaptation.

It is essential you have a PhD** or equivalent professional qualifications and experience in evolutionary theory (e.g. adaptation, selection, evolutionary systems biology, mathematical biology, social evolution theory), with strong mathematical skills and experience in simulation modelling/programming,

OR a PhD** or professional qualifications and experience in computer science/maths/physics (e.g. algorithms, machine learning, complex systems/dynamical systems modelling, optimisation) with strong knowledge/experience of working on applications in theoretical evolutionary biology.

 and be capable of building bridges that link between evolutionary biology and computer science.  

**Applications for Research Fellow positions will be considered from candidates who are working towards or nearing completion of a relevant PhD qualification. The title of Research Fellow will be applied upon successful completion of the PhD. Prior to the qualification being awarded the title of Senior Research Assistant will be given.

Equality, diversity and Inclusion is central to the ethos in the School of Electronics and Computer Science. We particularly encourage women, Black, Asian and minority ethnic, LGBT+ and disabled applicants to apply for this position. We are commited to improving equality for women in science and have been successful in achieving an  Athena SWAN bronze award in April 2020. We give full consideration to applicants that wish to work flexibly including part-time and due consideration will be given to applicants who have taken a career break. The University has a generous maternity policy*, onsite childcare facilities

 The University of Southampton is in the top 1% of world universities and in the top 10 of the UK’s research-intensive universities. The University of Southampton is committed to sustainability and being a globally responsible university and has recently been awarded the Platinum EcoAward. This commits all of our staff and students to take responsibility for managing their activities to minimise harm to the environment, whether this through switching off non-essential electrical equipment or using the recycling facilities.

 *subject to qualifying criteria

Further information:

Application procedure:

Applications must include a CV, publications list, the names of three referees and a covering letter explaining your current interests and relevant background.

You should submit your completed online application form at The application deadline will be midnight on the closing date stated above. If you need any assistance, please call Sian (Recruitment Team) on +44 (0) 23 8059 4043. Please quote reference 1932322FP on all correspondence.