Life Sciences PhD Biology: Sex and Selfish Genetic Elements in Molecular Evolution (2023)

Two PhD positions are available to work with Professor Adam Eyre-Walker at the University of Sussex on a variety of topics in the field of molecular evolution. The positions remain open until filled, with potential start dates of Jan, May or Sept 2024.

What you get

These two School-funded positions cover Home (UK) tuition fees and a stipend at standard UKRI rates for 3.5 years.

Type of award

Postgraduate Research

Funding type

School funded

PhD project

Sexual selection is prevalent in many animal species. This classically takes two forms – males compete for access to females and females are choosy about who they mate with. Competition between males is expected to have two effects. First, it reduces the effective number of breeding individuals, because some males are much more successful than others; this increases the influence of genetic drift, a stochastic force in nature, and hence decreases the efficiency of selection. Second, it increases selection on males, by making males compete against each other. We will address several questions. Which of these two factors dominates the evolutionary dynamics? Are the effects more prevalent in certain types of genes?

Every genome contains transposable elements (TEs), sequences that propagate themselves and parasitise the genomic sequence. The evolution of these elements has been the focus of considerable research, however most of this work has centred on their effects and how they are maintained in the genome. There has been considerably less work on the sequences themselves. The project will focus on several questions. First, how do TEs maintain their sequence when they are always decaying?  Second, what factors determine the balance between propagation and removal; in particular what role does recombination play in the process of removal?

The Eyre-Walker research group addresses these questions using the statistical analysis of DNA sequence data and theoretical work. Further details of the research interests can be found at and


Please note the positions are only available to residents of the UK. Eligible applicants will hold a 2:1 BSc in a relevant subject. 


31 December 2023 23:45

How to apply

Please submit a formal application using the online system at attaching a CV, degree transcripts and certificates, statement of interest and two academic references. A research proposal is not required.

On the application system select Programme of Study – PhD Biology. Please ensure you state the project title under funding obtained and include the proposed supervisor’s name where required.

Select an entry date of Jan, May or Sept 2024.

Contact us

Informal enquiries can be made to Adam Eyre-Walker at

Formal applications should be made at

For enquiries about the application process, contact Emma Chorley:


At level(s):
PG (research)

Application deadline:
31 December 2023 23:45 (GMT)


The award is available to people from the following country: