Two PhD positions modeling microbiomes at UniVienna

The importance of microbes to the proper functioning of our planet cannot be overstated. The cycling of Carbon and Nitrogen, maintenance of human and plant health, as well as many industrial processes all depend on complex microbial communities also known as “Microbiomes”. The sheer complexity of these communities is staggering – billions of individuals belonging to thousands of species interacting with each other in ways that depend on, but also influence environmental conditions such as pH and nutrient availability. To harness the transformative power of microbiomes and understand how they will be influenced by man-made global changes, we need a new paradigm that goes beyond description of individual species but also does not lose critical small-scale details. We must understand the fundamental constrains and underlying principles that allow microbiomes to self- organize and maintain their function in the face of variability. The new “MicroPlanet” Cluster of Excellence (CoE) unites experts across disciplines and universities in Austria to collect and analyze data from diverse environments and ecosystems to reveal unifying themes.

We are looking for highly motivated candidates with strong quantitative backgrounds and experience in developing mathematical models. The positions are fully funded for 4 years with salaries according to FWF standards. The successful candidate will collaborate heavily with the many groups working in the “MicroPlanet” cluster of Excellence and there will be ample opportunities for data-theory integration. The goal is to develop data-facing theories grounded in complex systems, ecological stoichiometry, game theory, metabolism, and AI to extract fundamental constraints and principles that apply across ecosystems. The project will be part of the synthesis module of the CoE and will be based in at the University of Vienna, Austria, with a starting data in fall-winter 2024 or early 2025.

Applicants should contact Prof. Shaul Pollak directly ( with a CV and short description of why they are interested in the position.

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