We are currently advertising a Senior Research Technician position
Information For Postdoctoral researchers
If you want to come and carry out postdoctoral work in my lab I encourage you to get in touch with me directly. If I have any funded positions available I will advertise them here. Otherwise, I encourage you to look into opportunities for independent research fellowships. These include the NSF (US), Marie Curie (EU), and UK funding agencies which may not be restricted by nationality (NERC, BBSRC, Royal Society). In addition there are College Research Fellowhips in Cambridge, which are a great opportunity especially for those who have recently graduated from a PhD and may not yet be a strong candidate for a Research Council fellowship. The application procedure is arcane and different for every college – they are advertised in the University Reporter.
There is also a great list of postdoc opportunities here compiled by Dieter Lucas.
St Johns College offers positions for ‘Non-stipendiary Overseas Visiting Scholars‘. If you are interested in coming to work in Cambridge for a short visit/sabbatical, this is an opportunity to be associated with the college, including accommodation and dining rights. Get in touch if you are interested.
Information For Potential PhD Students
I am interested in all aspects of speciation, hybrid zones and the genetic basis of phenotypic diversity. My research has mainly concentrated on Heliconius butterflies, and I am keen to supervise students to work on one of my Heliconius projects. However I would also be interested in supervising any project on another study system that overlaps with my general interests. I am keen on projects that combine field and lab work wherever possible, such that you can get to know the organisms in the wild. I am also interested in people with bioinformatics skills to carry out analysis of the Heliconius genome sequence which is now available.
In Cambridge there is plenty of opportunity for joint supervision/collaborative projects with other members of the department – see the Zoology staff. The extent to which a specific project has been developed when you apply varies enormously. Some people have very specific projects in mind, others are still considering broad areas. No preference is given with respect to this – there is plenty of time for projects to be developed!
I thought it might be useful to say something about my supervising philosophy. I like to try and allow students to develop their own ideas, as far as is possible within the constraints of the short UK PhD. Generally this will involve me suggesting an initial project which I think is feasible in the first year or so, which can then be developed in whatever direction you find interesting as things develop. In general, this is a good compromise between ensuring that you get some data quickly, and allowing room to develop your own ideas. I try to be always available for discussion, but we do not usually have regular organised student-supervisor meetings (although I am happy to do that if you want and have done so in the past). The postdocs in the lab also play an important role in student supervision, mainly because they usually know what is going on far better than I do. You might also like to read Mike Singer’s sage graduate advice. Also, feel free to contact one of my students and ask what it is like.
PhD applications – UK applicants
Check the Department postgrad web page for full details. What happens regarding studentship applications is that the department has a number of research council studentships, that are not tied to any particular supervisor. Members of staff put forward potential students who are interested in working with them. An independent panel then chooses which students to interview (interviews will probably take place in Feb/March – a visit then would also give you a chance to meet/talk with our group), on the basis of student (not supervisor) quality, interviews them, and then offers studentships to those that they think are the best candidates.
The schedule for this (rough dates, which may vary year to year) is that in Jan/February the supervisors put forward the CVs and references of students they would like to interview. These are then copied to members of our postgraduate committee who select students for interview. Those selected are invited for interview with our postgraduate committee and the prospective supervisor present.
PhD applications – Overseas applicants
I have had good success in recruiting and funding overseas students, and students in my lab have come from the US, South Africa, Brazil, India, Ecuador and Colombia. I am keen to support Latin American students. Cambridge has a number of sources of money for students from outside the UK that are not available elsewhere in the UK – the funding is obviously competitive, but not impossible. The most important thing is to get your application in before the funding deadlines – this is currently sometime in October for US applicants and December for other countries. It is especially important for overseas applicants to read the University graduate web pages carefully. Also make sure that you fill the forms in for all available sources of funding. Even if you think you have a fellowship from elsewhere, nothing is lost in applying to all available sources – remember once the deadline is passed you cant go back and apply.
You will need to choose a college – I am a fellow at St Johns, which is one of the few colleges that fully funds graduate students. This is therefore a good option to increase your chances of getting money. And it also means we can go to the graduate feasts together. Some other colleges offer funding – students in Zoology have had good experiences in Clare and Emmanuel. Its a good idea to talk to someone in Cambridge about which college to choose before you fill in the form – please contact me. The choice of college can make a surprisingly large difference to your life in Cambridge in terms of accommodation, funding, and of course food and wine.
What to do
If you are interested then you should first get in touch with me (Chris Jiggins) and send:
(1) CV. (2) Details of 2 or 3 Referees – also ask them to email me their references. (3) A cover letter describing your interests, and what you would like to work on (this can obviously vary from vague areas to a specific project).