Postdoctoral positions available

We are seeking up to two enthusiastic, creative and motivated postdoctoral researchers to work with Caroline Colijn in biomathematics, discrete mathematics, infectious disease, phylogenetics, evolution, statistics or a related field. Positions are based 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, funding permitting.

Environment and Context
The Mathematics, Genomics and Prediction in Infection and Evolution (MAGPIE) research group  formed with the appointment of Dr. Colijn as a Canada 150 Research Chair in Mathematics for Infection, Evolution and Public Health in 2018, and now has 5 faculty members in Mathematics along with close ties to statistics, biology, and health sciences at SFU and nearby UBC. The group hosts an active and dynamic combination of MSc and PhD students and postdoctoral researchers. Activities supported by MAGPIE and SFU include workshops, hackathons and national and international visitors, as well as travel opportunities for the group. 

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 Yale School of Public Health, the Wellcome Trust Sanger Centre, the Oxford Big Data Institute and the Public Health Agency of Canada. 

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. Salary will be competitive, and commensurate with the appointees' capabilities, track record and potential.

Interested candidates should contact Caroline Colijn ( 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 or evolution 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, evolution and genomics, applied statistics
  • 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, mathematics, statistics, epidemiology or evolution, depending on the specific project
  • Knowledge of one or more common programming languages

Deadline for applications

Please apply by July 31, 2024. Applications will continue to be considered until positions are filled.