Postdoc position in cultural phylogenetics

Applications extended and closing May 22nd: please note extended project date to November 2020.

We’re hiring! If you have skills in phylogenetic comparative methods, and you’re keen to understand cultural and linguistic diversity, then we have a one-year postdoc position on our VariKin project. Here’s the job ad:

Applications are invited for a position of Postdoctoral Research Assistant with expertise in phylogenetic analysis of cultural data. The post is a PDRA position in a European Research Council Starting Grant project entitled “VariKin: Cultural Evolution of Kinship Diversity” led by Prof Fiona Jordan in the Department of Archaeology & Anthropology at the University of Bristol. We require an individual with expertise in phylogenetic comparative methods and the analysis of large linguistic and cultural datasets. The project team has amassed a large global database of kinship terms, and the objective for this role is to explore the cultural evolutionary dynamics and patterns of kinship terms.

The successful candidate will primarily be responsible for the design, implementation and analysis, and writing-up of two investigations. The post is offered on an open ended basis with fixed funding for 12 months. The project is due to come to an end November 30th 2020.

You will have a PhD in evolutionary approaches to biology, anthropology, or language, or a similar field. It is essential that you have skills in a range of phylogenetic comparative methods, particularly BayesTraits and relevant R packages. Phylogenetic inference skills to examine reticulation (e.g. NeighbourNet etc) may also be useful. Broad experience with quantitative and computational data analysis (preferably using R), and with parallel/cluster computing, is highly desirable. There will be an opportunity for further skills training. Preference will be given to candidates who have worked with cultural/linguistic datasets although this is not essential. You will require excellent organisational, communication and presentation skills. Experience with comparative data collection from written sources, database maintenance, and careful data curation are essential. You should demonstrate that you can engage in interdisciplinary collaborative work with the other VariKin team members. Your particular role will work closely alongside the PI and PhD student investigating kinship system evolution across cultures, but there is scope to contribute to other strands in the project (developmental field studies of children’s kinship knowledge, and cross-linguistic corpus analyses).

See the further particulars and apply through the UoB portal here. Please provide a cover letter that describes your skills and experience, your research interests, and details how you meet the criteria; and your current CV.

For informal enquiries please contact Fiona Jordan ( and see more of the project at

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