Three postdoctoral positions in biomathematics, discrete mathematics, infectious disease, genomics, phylogenetics, statistics or a related field

Job Description
We are seeking up to three enthusiastic, creative and motivated postdoctoral researchers in biomathematics, discrete mathematics, infectious disease, genomics, phylogenetics, statistics or a related field, for postdoctoral positions in the Department of Mathematics at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada.

The research program will centre around several key strands: (1) Transmission and pathogen genomic data. We will develop methods to reconstruct infectious disease outbreaks with the help of pathogen sequence data. This builds on tools like TransPhylo, a Bayesian inference approach that in principle allows estimation of where cases might have been missed, as well as when individuals were infected. Key aims include developing real-time tools to find worrisome outbreaks or clusters early, to integrate diverse data sources and to improve the modelling and statistical tools behind the inference. (2) Linking modelling and prediction. While there are many exciting technical advances in infectious disease, much work on pathogen genomics is primarily descriptive. In contrast, the models used to make predictions and understand fundamental principles for diverse circulating infections remain simple, and are not linked to the rich data we have to describe infections and their ecology. In this strand we build links between mechanistic mathematical models and genomic data in the context of infectious disease. We will use tools from modelling, statistics and data science alongside tree and network structures. (3) The mathematics of evolutionary trees and networks. Sequencing technologies have provided rich and diverse datasets about pathogens at a range of scales, including global genomic data, detailed outbreak data and global surveillance data. But understanding what these data mean is enhanced by new mathematics. For example, we have developed metrics on sets of trees that allow exploration of the space of transmission trees or of phylogenetic trees, and characterised informative features of data that can help to reveal information about the underlying ecology of a set of sequences. In this strand we will carry this area further, developing the mathematics of evolutionary trees and networks with a view towards applications.

Postdoctoral researchers will have the scope to work on an ongoing project within these broad themes, and/or to develop independent related research programs if they so wish. Positions will be offered for 1 year at the outset, with the option to extend to 3 years.

Environment and Context:
The research group is forming with the appointment of Dr. Colijn as a Canada 150 Research Chair in Mathematics for Infection, Evolution and Public Health. We will have close links with Computer Science, Statistics and Biology, as well as with the Faculty of Health Sciences, and we will also have strong links with the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control and UBC. The group is funded over 7 years and will host an active and dynamic combination of MSc and PhD students and postdoctoral researchers. Activities supported by the Canada 150 grant and by SFU include workshops, hackathons and national and international visitors, as well as travel opportunities for the group. This is an exciting time to join this dynamic group working at the interface of mathematics, evolution and public health.

We are fortunate to work with data on Mycobacterium tuberculosis, HIV, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Staphylococcus aureus, as well as other pathogens, through strong collaborations with leading groups around the world. These include the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control, the Yale School of Public Health, the Wellcome Trust Sanger Centre, the Oxford Big Data Institute and Imperial College London.

There are opportunities to travel to visit collaborators, present results at conferences and workshops, and to develop new collaborations. Postdocs will be invited to suggest visitors and speakers for the planned workshops and hackathons, collaborate across the group and will be able to undertake paid teaching in the Department of Mathematics. Interested candidates should contact Caroline Colijn ( or the Department via JoAnne Hennessey (, with a CV including names of potential references and a statement of interest.

Person specification
• PhD in one of the following areas: mathematics, statistics, physics, computer science, infectious disease epidemiology with a strong quantitative component, or a similar discipline
• Publication record commensurate with experience
• A strong interest in the topics of the research program
• Strong interest in some of the following: mathematical modelling, applied discrete mathematics, infectious disease epidemiology and genomics, statistical inference or machine learning
• Ability to think creatively and thereby design new analyses, models and methods
• Ability to interpret and query results and follow independent courses of inquiry that arise
• Excellent verbal and written communication skills. The work will require collaboration with project partners in public health, biology, computer science, statistics and/or epidemiology, depending on the specific project
• Knowledge of one of more common programming languages

Simon Fraser University
Closing date
May 15th, 2018
Posted on
April 12th, 2018 23:37
Last updated
April 12th, 2018 23:37