Postdoc position: quantitative biology of non-growing bacteria

The Biozentrum of the University of Basel is one of the leading life sciences institutes in the world. It consists of 30 groups and 500 employees that research how molecules and cells create life, spanning the scale from atom to organism. Founded in 1971, the Biozentrum has been the birthplace of many fundamental discoveries in biology and medicine, spawning several Nobel Laureates.

A three-year postdoctoral position is available at the Biozentrum (Basel, Switzerland) in the context of a SNF project led by Dr. Thomas Julou. The position is embedded in the group of Prof. Erik van Nimwegen and the starting date is flexible, between September 2021 and January 2022. The postdoctoral fellow will be supervised by T. Julou and E. van Nimwegen.

The van Nimwegen Lab at Basel University’s Biozentrum is an international and multidisciplinary team with extensive expertise in the field of transcription regulation, cell-to-cell variability, genome evolution, and probabilistic data analysis techniques. A special feature of our group is that it includes both experimental and theoretical researchers which work together to combine cutting edge statistical and computational tools with quantitative experiments. A list of our group's publications can be found on Google Scholar

Your position

The topic of this project concerns Escherichia coli during stationary phase, as a case study of non-growing bacteria. Although bacteria in the wild likely spend the majority of their time in non-growing states, relatively little is known about cell physiology and gene expression in such states, especially at the single-cell level. Our lab uses novel quantitative approaches, such as the one we recently developed to quantitatively track growth and gene expression with single-cell resolution in bacteria exposed to controlled environmental changes [1, 2]. We are interested in both physiological and evolutionary aspects of stationary phase: What are the different physiological states that can be attained during stationary phase? What is the extent and dynamics of cell heterogeneity during stationary, and how does this heterogeneity affect survival, stress-resistance, and the ability of cells to regrow when exposed to new nutrients? Are there evolutionary trade-off(s) between growth-related traits and starvation-related traits? To answer such questions, the candidate is expected to combine experimental techniques from molecular biology, genetics, video-microscopy, microfluidics and microfabrication, with cutting-edge data analysis and modelling techniques, which may be undertaken in collaboration with theoretical researchers in the lab. The project will be tailored to the interests and skills of the successful candidate, and will take advantage of results already obtained by a PhD student in our group.

Your profile

Applicants should have completed a PhD in a relevant field such as biophysics, quantitative biology, microbiology, or evolution. Previous experience with microscopy and microfluidics will be valued. Experience with quantitative analysis and programming skills are a plus as well.

Application / Contact

The application should include a CV and motivation statement as well as the contact details of at least two references. Reviewing of applications will start immediately and continue until the position is filled. Please note that only online applications will be accepted.

For specific questions, feel free to contact Thomas Julou, e-mail:

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