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PhD-vacancy at the IBL on the neurogenomics of vocal learning

This project on the role of FoxPs in vocal perception and production learning is part of nine PhD-positions funded by the NWO Gravitation Programme which was granted to the Dutch Research Consortium 'Language in Interaction'

PhD position 9: Neurogenomics of vocal learning: decoding the functions of FoxPs in vocal perception and production learning

The discovery that the FOXP2 gene is implicated in speech and language provided the first molecular windows into this trait. One way to decipher the roles of genes such as FOXP2 is through comparative research using songbirds - birds that acquire their songs by auditory-guided vocal learning.

Using FoxP knockdown technology, we will assess functions of zebra finch FoxP genes for a novel subject: the perception, discrimination and processing of vocalizations, such as natural songs, along with strings of song elements organized according to artificial grammar algorithms. This promises unique insights into evolutionary precursors of linguistic function in non-speaking species.
This project will involve collaborative work to be carried out at Leiden University (where the candidate will be appointed), Nijmegen MPI and the Free University of Berlin.

Candidates must have a Master’s degree in biology or biomedicine and a background in molecular genetics, cell biology or neurobiology.

Contact information:
Prof. Carel ten Cate, C.J.ten.Cate@biology.leidenuniv.nl and/or Prof. Simon Fisher, Simon.Fisher@mpi.nl
General information for all 9 positions:


We are looking for highly motivated PhD candidates to enrich a unique consortium of researchers that aims to unravel the neurocognitive mechanisms of language at multiple levels. The goal is to understand both the universality and the variability of the human language faculty from genes to behaviour.

The Netherlands has an outstanding track record in the language sciences. This research consortium sponsored by a large grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific research (NWO) brings together many of the excellent research groups in the Netherlands with a research programme on the foundations of language. The research team consists of a 43 Principal Investigators. In addition to the excellence in the domain of language and related relevant fields of cognition, our consortium provides state-of-the-art research facilities and a research team with ample experience in the complex research methods that will be invoked to address the scientific questions at the highest level of methodological sophistication. These include methods from genetics, neuroimaging, computational modelling, and patient-related research. This consortium realizes both quality and critical mass for studying human language at a scale not easily found anywhere else.

Currently, the consortium advertises nine PhD-positions. These positions provide the opportunity for conducting world-class research as a member of an interdisciplinary team.
Click here for more information on all the PhD-positions at the Donders Institute, Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging

Work environment

The research consortium ‘Language in Interaction’ brings together researchers from nine different research institutions in the Netherlands, with complementary expertise in a highly interdisciplinary area of research. These are: Radboud University Nijmegen (RU), University of Amsterdam (UvA), University of Maastricht (UM), Leiden University (LU), Utrecht University (UU), Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR), University of Twente (UT), Tilburg University (TiU), and the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics (MPI).

Successful candidates will be appointed at one of the home institutions of the consortium, depending on the PhD position applied for. The research is conducted in an international setting at all participating institutions. English is the lingua franca.

What we expect from you

Each PhD position has its own requirements and profile.
General requirements for the PhD positions are:
- a Master’s degree in the fields indicated for the positions;
- strong motivation;
- excellent proficiency in written and spoken English.

What we have to offer

- employment: 1,0 fte;
- a maximum gross monthly salary of € 2,664 based on a 38-hour working week;
- in addition to the salary: an 8% holiday allowance and an 8.3% end-of-year bonus;
- the starting salary is € 2,083 per month and will increase to € 2,664 per month in the fourth year;
- you will be appointed at one of the home institutions of the consortium, depending on the PhD position applied for;
- you will be appointed for an initial period of 18 months, after which your performance will be evaluated. If the evaluation is positive, the contract will be extended by 2.5 years;
- preferred starting date: Spring 2014;
- you will be classified as PhD Candidate (promovendus) in the Dutch university job-ranking system (UFO);
- Collective Labour Agreement (CAO) of Dutch Universities is applicable to all these positions.


Are you interested?
Please include with your application a motivation letter (attn. of prof. dr. P. Hagoort), CV and any required attachments. You should upload these documents using ‘ Apply directly’ before 2 February 2014.

Applications should include:
- a cover letter specifying the specific PhD proposal(s) to which you apply (vacancy number and position number(s)), your motivation, research experience, interests and plans;
- a curriculum vitae;
- a list of publications;
- the names of two persons who can provide references.
For more information on the application procedure: +31 24 3611173

Please note: We will only consider applications submitted via our application form (which is accessed by clicking the ‘ Apply directly’ link).

No commercial propositions please.

Check for other positions the following link.

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