PhD in Evolutionary Biology

Ghent VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology

01 Jul 2024


VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology

Steven Maere Lab



The VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology (PSB, is a world-leading plant science institute with the mission to integrate genetics, genomics and computational biology to unravel the biology of plants and to improve the sustainability and climate resilience of crops. The Maere lab at PSB ( is active in the fields of computational biology, systems biology and evolutionary genomics. Current research topics include testing a novel experimental setup to unravel the molecular wiring of plant phenotypes under field conditions, studying dosage balance-sensitive genes in plants, and modeling the evolution of transcriptional systems in silico. We are currently looking for a talented PhD student to work on experimental evolution of diatoms in the context of a UGent GOA project (4-year position).

Project description

Diatoms are the most productive and species-rich group of microalgae. They have extensively colonized marine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems, contributing 20% of all carbon fixation on Earth. Despite the global significance of diatoms, the genetic basis and regulatory mechanisms underlying their evolutionary and ecological success remain largely uncharted territory. Unraveling these mechanisms is crucial to assess how diatoms respond to climate change. In this project, we will experimentally evolve diatoms under selection for resilience against warmer temperatures, and chart the molecular mechanisms underlying diatom adaptation. For the experimental evolution part, we will collaborate closely with the lab of Wim Vyverman at UGent (


  • You have an MSc degree in Bioengineering, Biology, Biotechnology, Computational Biology or Bioinformatics.
  • You are fascinated by biological evolution.
  • Experience with diatom cultivation, experimental evolution and/or evolutionary genomics data analysis is a plus.
  • You are fluent in English (spoken and written) and master several programming languages.
  • You can work in a team as well as independently.
  • You are meticulous, well-organized, responsible and self-critical.
  • You take pride in delivering high-quality work.
  • You have a passion for science and you can think outside the box.

We offer

  • An exciting work environment in a top research institute.
  • The opportunity to be part of a dynamic, interdisciplinary and international team.
  • A challenging project in a competitive field of science.
  • Ample opportunity to learn new skills.
  • An attractive salary.

Please complete the online application procedure and include a detailed CV, a letter of motivation and the contact details of two referees. Applications are accepted until the position is filled. For more information, contact Steven Maere ([email protected]).


VIB values diversity - in backgrounds and in experiences. The institute needs people from all backgrounds and ways of life to help build a thriving scientific environment. VIB is therefore looking for candidates who are not only strong in their own aptitudes but care deeply about supporting each other's growth. VIB's collaborators are people with different strengths, experiences and backgrounds, who share a passion for science that generates impact in science and in society. Diversity not only includes race and gender identity, but also nationality, age, disability status, sexual orientation, religion and many other parts of one’s identity. All of VIB’s employees’ points of view are key to its success, and inclusion is everyone's responsibility.