Come work with us – two positions as post doctoral fellows in disease ecology are available

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Funding comes and goes in mysterious ways, but right now I am in the fortunate position to advertise not one, but two postdoc fellowships in disease ecology at the Zoonotic Ecology and Epidemiology lab at Linnaeus University in Sweden. This is a great time to come join us! The lab currently consists of two senior researchers, four postdocs, two PhD students and one technician. We are also part of the centre of excellence Ecology and Evolution in Microbial Model Systems, a body of 50 or so researchers (PIs, postdocs, PhDs) that collaborate at the crossroads of disciplines. You will have a great time!

The project

The influenza A virus is a multihost pathogen with zoonotic potential, but most subtypes and genotypes are associated with wild birds, in particular dabbling ducks of the genus Anas. Since 2002, the Zoonotic Ecology and Epidemiology research group has worked broadly on host-pathogen interactions of this virus in a population of migratory Mallards in SE Sweden. Through systematic sampling for viruses we have built up a large collection of influenza A virus, and combined data on host and virus to build infection histories of the individual ducks. These data, together with targeted studies on movement ecology of Mallards, have enabled us to address disease ecology questions in this system. Currently, we seek to strengthen our research team with one or two Post Doctoral student(s) interested in disease ecology of IAV in a broad sense. The interested student should have research interests and prior experiences that align with the currently ongoing research, but could be focused either on evolutionary aspects of the virus (phylogenetics and evolution, or functional aspects of virus), or the consequences of the host of infection (either in terms of ecological costs, epidemiological modelling, or disease in a movement ecology perspective).

Qualifications

Requirements for the position are a strong record of disease ecology research with a PhD in either virology, veterinary medicine, ecology, molecular biology or similar. Other assessment grounds that would place the candidate at an advantage include a presentation of documented evidence of disease ecology research, preferably on influenza A virus, a high proficiency in written and spoken English, the ability to solve problems and to work independently, as well as interact in a research group.

Terms of employment

The position will be full time for 2 years. The proposed starting date is from the 1st of January 2017, but can be negotiated.

Apply?

Find out more and file your application on the following link.

Want to know more?

Check out our blog, read our papers, or send me a direct email (and to prove you are not a robot: jonas dot waldenstrom at lnu dot se)

#MyGenderGap – my history of inequality in numbers

 

By Jonas Waldenström

Last week Nature published a news story on the gender gap in science. That is, the ever-growing gap between women and men as their careers develop. Typically, women are in majority in undergraduate studies, are more or less equally represented at the PhD level, but plummet at the postdoc, tenure track, and tenure levels. As a consequence the number of female professors is low at most universities. As an example, in the comparatively gender friendly Sweden only roughly 20% of professors are women. Clearly something is rotten in the state of research.

We all know this, it is nothing new. However, knowing it is wrong at a systematic level is not the same as being aware of your own part in replicating it. That’s where change is needed. Alex Bond, an ecologist and blogger in Canada, did this. He took the larger question down to the personal level and asked people to calculate their own gender gaps and tweet it on Twitter under the hash tag #MyGenderGap. This is a great initiative and I suspect he will write an informed and eloquent blog post about it soon (as he usually does – great blog, please visit it). I calculated mine too, and tweeted it. But as twitter-tweets are limited to 140 characters I thought that I should devote some space here in the blog to present my own data in a bit more depth. And it doesn’t look very good…

First of all, my own supervising career mimics the field as a whole. I have supervised 12 undergraduate students at honor’s and MSc levels, 9 women and 3 men. I supervise 4 PhD students, plus one that graduated last year, in total 3 women and 2 men. I have three postdocs in the lab, 1 woman and 2 men. On top of that I have acted as co-supervisor for an additional 9 PhD-students, 4 woman and 5 men. Over all not too bad, but the trend with a stepwise reduction in women with each step up the academic ladder is obvious.

But it is when you look at the publications that things become really clear. I went through the 102 peer-reviewed publications that I have authored/co-authored and for each publication I counted the number of men and women co-authors, and whether the female scientist was my own PhD student and if the leading PI was woman or man. The table looks like this:

Year

Men in pub

Women in pub

Women PhD students

Ratio F/M

# publications

2000

1

1

2001

2

2

2002

12

6

0.50

4

2003

12

5

0.42

5

2004

19

5

0.26

7

2005

25

8

0.32

8

2006

22

1

0.05

5

2007

98

14

2

0.14

13

2008

45

17

3

0.38

9

2009

35

10

6

0.29

7

2010

44

23

10

0.52

10

2011

45

13

3

0.29

10

2012

56

16

3

0.29

11

2013

47

21

11

0.45

10

463

139

38

0.30

102

Out of 602 co-author across 102 publications (note that the same co-author often is found on the author line-up of several articles), only in 139 occasions the co-author was woman, and in many cases my own PhD student. This gives a gender gap statistic (the simple division of #F/#M) of 0.30. A totally equal proportion would be 1.0. Thus, my stats are not very flattering. And as regards the long-term trend the line is depressingly flat. Why? One reason that I can see is that I have established a core of collaborators that I tend to publish with. Most of them are men. Most of them are in turn PIs in their labs, thus it reinforces the system.

My Gender Gap in publications across time. I took out the data from 2000 and 2001, since only few publications were published.

My Gender Gap in publications across time. I took out the data from 2000 and 2001, since only few publications were published.

What could be done about it? That’s a great question; one which I don’t have a good answer to. In my mind I haven’t chosen collaborators because of their gender, but of common research interests. But seeing your own stats staring you in the face is the first step in a thought-process that may lead to actual change.

We should remember that the university system is strange. It has a high intrinsic growth rate [the cohorts upon cohorts of PhD-students that start each year], but a very stable carrying capacity [the old folks sits on their position for life and most departments don’t grow]. Thus, if you have succeeded in science and is a PI, the highest likelihood is that (on average) only one of your students you teach during your career will make it in academia. Which gender will that person have?

Now go compute your own gender gap.

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Four partially successful ways of supervising your academic troupe

Is that a student/postdoc waiting for his/hers supervisor?

Is that a student/postdoc waiting for his/hers supervisor?

By Jonas Waldenström

Science is the business that never goes to sleep. Even at our little university in the backwaters of SE Sweden there are some office windows that shine through the darkest November hours. Those rooms most often house a PhD student or a postdoc. Actually, in the case of our department, most often one of my PhD students or postdocs.

Of course, working during nights and weekends can be good. At least in the short run. You get things done, you can drink as much free coffee as you like, and you are not interrupted by colleagues expecting you to do stuff for them. Perhaps most importantly: you are not interrupted by your supervisor. In the long run, though, we need our free time to recuperate.

This autumn has been very busy for me. However, in my case it has been less due to science, and more to the domestic realm of life. You see, I have been on parental leave from August to December. It has been a wonderful time, even though the word leave has very little resemblance to vacation and relaxing. Parental leave is a full time job – a very rewarding job, but demanding.

My domestic life. Not.

My domestic life. Not.

But it is hard to completely step away from science when you have a research group to run. A PhD student cannot be put on pause, just because you are away. Manuscripts are still produced, revisions are accepted or rejected, deadlines for grant proposals approaches mercilessly, and people in admin want your opinion on this, that and everything. This is the academic’s dilemma, much harsher for women than for men, as women on average take longer leaves than men. In my case I have actually worked one day, and lately two days a week during the fall. This means I have been able to do some of the things I was supposed to do, but far from all the stuff I had intended to.

This is the third time I have been home with kids. When the time now is approaching for my return to the office I can look back at four ways things have been handled this fall:

That is a valid question!

That is a valid question!

Absence breeds creativity. Even though I haven’t been around the team has pulled off some incredible research stunts both in the lab and in the field. One infection experiment was carried out at the National Veterinary Institute, and two intensive studies were conducted at the bird observatory. All ran smoothly without me showing neither my hide, nor my hair. In my absence, people collaborated, found solutions and carried on. And if the shit had hit the fan – they could always have blamed me! (Which luckily it didn’t).

 

You cannot clone yourself, but you can get someone as a stand-in.

You cannot clone yourself, but you can get someone as a stand-in.

Find your doppelganger. Just as in the movies, it is nice with a stand-in (or several, actually). Someone who can take necessary charges of things. You know who you are – you have done great! Many thanks!

 

From Frederick William Fariholt's book Tobacco, its history and associations. From WikiMedia.

From Frederick William Fariholt’s book Tobacco, its history and associations. From WikiMedia.

Keep supervision short and worthwhile. One especially important tactic has been ultra-fast supervision. Or as long as it takes to smoke a cigarette outdoors on a Swedish November day. Without a jacket. Supervision on speed!

 

This is actually a thing you could buy http://www.thecheapplace.com/Ignorance-is-Bliss-Patch

Ignorance is bliss. Finally, accepting that you can’t do all is the best thing. For everyone’s sake. Be home. Enjoy. And, of course, blog about it 🙂

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