VLIZ recruits: Researcher Bioinformatics in Marine Ecology (post-doc) | Flanders Marine Institute

Flanders Marine Institute

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VLIZ recruits: Researcher Bioinformatics in Marine Ecology (post-doc)

Join our Research Department as a post-doctoral researcher bioinformatics and marine systems biology. Depending on your profile and qualifications, the position can start as or precede a tenure track to a senior research position. You will perform research in close collaboration with a junior scientist. For an important part of the time, you will also collaborate with colleagues at VLIZ in other research lines concerning bio-informatics, e.g. related to marine viruses or microbial communities.

Researcher bioinformatics and marine systems biology

Natural ecosystems are often too complex to study under controlled laboratory conditions. Organisms interact with their environment in multifaceted ways. Our understanding of how species traits, species interactions and evolution of individual species contribute to ecosystem functions is therefore still very fragmentary. Nevertheless, we urgently need better insights in the functioning of ecosystems to predict how they will change under anthropogenic pressures such as global warming or ocean acidification.

VLIZ starts a research line, which aims to unravel important processes in natural plankton communities such as ecosystem functions and mutualistic and antagonistic interactions among different species, using an ecosystems biology approach. Specifically, VLIZ wants to use high throughput sequencing to describe the composition (metagenomics) and functions (meta-transcriptomics) of plankton communities. This information will be used to model relevant ecosystem processes such as biogeochemical cycling. VLIZ is furthermore interested to investigate how such processes will alter under various scenarios of global change.

The study area is primarily the southern North Sea, where we can readily conduct field surveys to cover seasonal and spatial dynamics of plankton communities. Next to the regional focus, we will encourage collaboration in international consortia to work on global datasets. Within this context, VLIZ wants to address the following research questions:

  1. Which key species and key traits are essential for the pelagic ecosystem of the North Sea?
  2. Which important ecosystem functions can we derive from plankton meta-transcriptomics data?

In a later stage, we aim to incorporate these molecular trait based ecosystem functions in ecosystem models to investigate biogeochemical processes, and use these models to predict the effect of anthropogenic change.

Our offer

  • We offer a challenging job in the dynamic environment of VLIZ.
  • A contract of three years as post-doc researcher, which can be followed by a tenure track towards a senior research position in case of a positive evaluation, or a contract in a tenure track position, depending on your profile and qualifications. The salary follows the salary scales of scientific personnel in the Flemish Government.
  • Fringe benefits: holiday pay, end-of-year bonus, meal vouchers, hospitalization insurance, bike allowance, free public transport for home-work commuting and an attractive holiday arrangement.

Your main responsibilities

  • To conduct research on ecosystems biology of plankton communities with internal funds. This involves bioinformatics analysis of meta-genomics and meta-transcriptomics data and the use of computational methods for statistical analysis and modelling;
  • To contribute to other research projects in the VLIZ research department that involve bioinformatics analyses, to interact and collaborate with colleagues at VLIZ to increase interdisciplinarity in various projects, to give advice on colleagues’ research;
  • To write high quality research papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals;
  • To write proposals and to prospect for external funding (in collaboration with relevant colleagues at the institute and with external partners) to initiate new projects in molecular ecology;
  • To possibly contribute to research and innovation projects in collaboration with partners from the Blue Economy;
  • To supervise MSc and PhD students;
  • To network at national and international level with other (marine) scientists;
  • To present research at national and international conferences;
  • To contribute to events organized by the Department or the Institute, such as the VLIZ Marine Science Day;
  • To review research proposals, manuscripts and abstracts.
For each function, VLIZ considers enthusiastic involvement, open servitude, excellent professionalism and integrity as important characteristics.

Your profile

  • PhD in Exact or Applied sciences with strong skills in bioinformatics and interest in systems biology;
  • Expertise with analysis and management of high throughput sequence data;
  • Affinity or experience with meta-genomics or meta-transcriptomics is a plus;
  • Documented and strong academic track record;
  • Critical and creative;
  • Scientifically integer;
  • Strong interpersonal skills, a motivated team player;
  • Open minded and taking initiative;
  • Good oral and written English communication skills;
  • Documented project writing skills;
  • Experience with project management and supervision of students is a plus;
  • Willing to learn new skills on a regular basis;
  • Willing to work in an international context.

About us

For 20 years, the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) has been strengthening the accumulation of marine knowledge and the excellence of marine scientific research in Flanders. VLIZ is a coordination and information platform, a focal point for marine and coastal research, which also serves as an international contact point for marine science. Important activities are national and international networking, information and data management, scientific communication for policy and industry, education and the general public, and logistical support of marine research. Since 2017, the institute also initiates, promotes and executes innovative and multidisciplinary marine research, and this at the service of, in collaboration with or complementary to Flemish and international marine research groups.

To strengthen its research capacity with research that is in line with priority innovation domains of the Blue Economy, VLIZ hires a new colleague in its Research Department. Join our multidisciplinary team in Oostende at the Belgian coast. You will work in a unique institute in which your science will be supported by state-of-the-art data systems and services, research infrastructure, science communication and an extensive marine library. Moreover, VLIZ is part of a wide network of Belgian and international marine research groups, offering many opportunities for scientific collaboration.

Additional information

For more information concerning this vacancy, please contact:

Does this vacancy appeal to you?

Send in your cover letter and CV no later than Monday 30 September 2019:

You can contact us by telephone on +32 (0)59 34 21 30.

VLIZ promotes equality and diversity in the workplace. You will be recruited based on competencies. Qualities of people are decisive, regardless of gender, religion, ethnic origin, age, sexual orientation or any disability.


Based on the received motivation letters and CVs, a select group of candidates will be invited for a job interview. You will be informed by e-mail. The job interviews take place in the offices of VLIZ. Employment can start immediately after the selection procedure.