PhD Scholarships in Bayesian Computer Modeling and Visualization of Virus Phylogegraphy [New Zealand]

Two PhD scholarships are available in the Computational Evolution Group at the University of Auckland under the supervision of Dr Alexei Drummond, co-founder of the BEAST software package for Bayesian evolutionary analysis.
The successful candidates will be involved in developing a Bayesian unification of geographical population dynamics and phylogenetics with a focus on human pathogenic viruses.

Current phylogenetic models provide inferences about genetic variation, however this research will focus on the roles of landscape, geography, dispersal and migration, in shaping (viral) genetic histories. The successful candidates will work on two novel classes of tractable phylogenetic models that explicitly include the spatial distribution of samples and the geographic features of surrounding habitats. While the primary focus of the research will be on viral pathogens, the proposed work will have the potential to establish a new foundation for phylogeographic modelling in general. Besides developing ethodology, the successful candidates will be involved in developing a new version of the BEAST software to include both phylogeographical modelling and visualization.

The research will be conducted in collaboration with Dr Marc Suchard?s research group in UCLA and the successful candidates will have the opportunity to spend up to one month each year in Los Angeles. The successful candidates will have a background in applied mathematics, statistics, computer science or evolutionary biology.

Students will be affiliated with either the Bioinformatics Institute or the Department of Computer Science depending on their background and preference.

Applications should be sent to Dr Alexei Drummond (alexei@cs.auckland.ac.nz) by 3rd March 2009, and include a CV, and the names of two referees.