Genève, Switzerland
Date Posted
20 Apr 2024

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PhD Program
University of Geneva

Cell biology & evolutionary developmental genetics of structural colours in vertebrates: from chameleons to zebrafish … and back.

Genève, Switzerland
20 Apr 2024

NOTE: this position listing has expired and may no longer be relevant!

Position Description

PhD student position 
opened in Switzerland for developmental or cell biologists 
 with a strong interest in the physics of biology.

In the context of a multidisciplinary study combining cell biology, evolutionary developmental biology and physics, we offer TWO positions (one PhD student & one Post- Doc) for outstanding, highly motivated, and creative experimental wet-lab biologists with strong skills in developmental biology or cell biology & interest in biophysics. The positions are for 3 to 5 years and can start in July 2015, but not later than Dec. 2015.

Research groups at the University of Geneva (UNIGE), funded by SystemsX, the Swiss National Science Foundation, and the ERC integrate the expertise of cell biologists, evolutionary developmental biologists and physicists for an improved understanding of the mechanisms generating structural colours and colour change in vertebrates. One aim is to understand the development & evolution of surface gratings and intracellular nano- structures generating colours through the physical phenomenon of light interference. The successful candidates will (i) use state-of-the-art microscopy in both the zebrafish and a series of non-model organisms (such as chameleons), (ii) perform genetic manipulations and developmental studies in the zebrafish, (iii) perform physical experiments on biological material to understand the development and evolution of surface gratings and intracellular photonic crystals in vertebrates.

Candidates to the PhD position must have a master’s degree in biology or biochemistry, and candidates to the Post-Doc position must have a PhD in biology or biochemistry. In both cases, skills and experience with developmental biology and/or cell biology is mandatory. Skills in biophysics are useful. The successful candidates will have a genuine interest to interact with physicists and computer scientists. Both selected candidates will join the laboratory of Prof. Michel Milinkovitch (Dept of Genetics & Evolution) and will interact on a daily basis with the laboratory of Prof. Marcos-Gonzalez-Gaitan (Dept of Biochemistry).

The University of Geneva (UNIGE) is world-renowned for its research in Biology and Physics. UNIGE is among the top 1% best universities in the world and the Faculty of Sciences is ranked 32th world best (Shangai Academic Ranking of World Universities).
Geneva is an international city occupying a privileged geographical situation.
PhD students are remunerated according to the standards of UNIGE, which are generous when compared to other international PhD programs.

Refs: Teyssier Saenko van der Marel & Milinkovitch. Photonic Crystals Cause Active Colour Change in Chameleons. Nature Communications 6: 6368 (2015) ; Kressman, Campos, Castanon, Fürthauer & González- Gaitán (2015) Directional Notch trafficking in Sara endosomes during asymmetric cell division in the spinal cord. Nature Cell Biology 17(3): 333-339 ; Milinkovitch, Manukyan, Debry, Di-Poï, Martin, Singh, Lambert, Zwicker. Crocodile Head Scales Are Not Developmental Units But Emerge from Physical Cracking. Science 339, 78-81 (2013) ; Wartlick, Mumcu, Kicheva, Bittig, Seum, Jülicher & González-Gaitán (2011) Dynamics of Dpp signalling and proliferation control. Science, 331:1154-1159.

How to Apply

Candidates must send their application in the form of a SINGLE PDF file including a brief letter of interest, a CV, as well as contact information (not support letters) of two persons of reference to: Prof. Michel Milinkovitch (Michel.Milinkovitch [at] unige [dot] ch), Laboratory of Artificial & Natural Evolution (, University of Geneva, Switzerland.

Position Category: Medical & Biological Sciences. Position Type: PhD Program. Position Tags: cell biology, developmental biology, and structural colours. Salary: €50'000 and above.