The Heinrich-Heine-University Duesseldorf are seeking to fill five positions in an interdisciplinary research project
“Evolution and Classification in the History of Science, Linguistics and Biology”
at the Heinrich-Heine-University Duesseldorf
(funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as part of the focus “Interaction between natural sciences and the humanities”)
. 1.5 PhD positions in History and Theory of Science / Medicine (1 TV-L 13; 0,5 TV-L 13)
. 2 PhD positions in Comparative Linguistics / Linguistic typology / Theory of language change (2 * 0.5 TV-L 13)
. 2 PhD positions in Computational Linguistics / Bioinformatics / Molecular Evolution
Genome evolution, language evolution and the evolution of knowledge have much in common. They entail evolving elements – genes, words, ideas – that are mostly inherited in a vertical manner from ancestors to descendents, but sometimes are inherited laterally. The present transdisciplinary project aims to study the evolutionary dynamics of science, languages and genomes using methods from the field of molecular evolution and incorporating network methods. Current applications for phylogenetic reconstruction operate mostly in the realm of bifurcating phylogenetic trees, which are used to model acquisition by inheritance only. However, genes in microbial genomes can also be acquired laterally, while words can be borrowed between different languages and knowledge can be transferred across disciplinary or cultural boundaries. Phylogenetic trees cannot easily be used to model such lateral transfers, but network approaches can.
The project includes 1) the clarification of evolutionary concepts in the history of science, biology and linguistics, 2) the development of methods for coding and modelling lateral transfer in science, linguistics and biology, and 3) the analysis and characterization of evolution by lateral acquisition in general. The project is an interdisciplinary collaboration at the intersection of history of medicine, linguistics, and biology.
Applicants should have good English communication and writing skills. Basic computing skills and aptitude in interdisciplinary research are required. Payment will be according to German public service pay scale. The positions are funded by the BMBF for a minimum of two years and expected to be filled by the end of 2008, but the positions remain open until filled; reviewing of applications begins immediately.
Applicants should hold (either-or)
A. a doctoral degree in the history of science, medicine or biology (with an emphasis on the development of scientific theories or on network studies) or B. a master’s degree or equivalent in Comparative Linguistics (with an emphasis on historical linguistics, preferred Indo-European and Romance languages) or C. a master’s degree or equivalent in biology (with emphasis on Computational Linguistics, Bioinformatics, or Molecular Evolution. Basic computing skills in PERL/Matlab/C or other scripting language are required.)
Interested candidates should send a CV and contact information of one potential referee as a single PDF file to
contact: PD Dr. Heiner Fangerau Institute for the History of Medicine Heinrich-Heine-University Duesseldorf Universitaetsstrasse 1 Building 23.12.04 D-40225 Duesseldorf
Tel. +49 (0) 211 81 – 14303 or – 13940 Fax. +49 (0) 211 81 13949