Research Fellow

Apply Now

How to Apply

Applicants should submit: (1) a cover letter of no more than two pages outlining interest in the position and relevant skills and experience; (2) a CV; and (3) contact information for three references to Hernan Lopez-Fernandez ([email protected]) with the subject line "<last name> Application: Lopez-Fernandez NSF-Cichlids project." Informal inquires before applying are welcome. Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on publication records will be considered. Individuals from underrepresented backgrounds are especially encouraged to apply. Review of applications will begin immediately until August 1, 2024.


The Lopez-Fernandez Lab in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Museum of Zoology at the University of Michigan seeks a postdoctoral research fellow to undertake morphological and phylogenetic analyses of living and fossil cichlid fishes. The project is a collaboration between the University of Michigan, The American Museum of Natural History, and Middle Tennessee State University, funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation, and with support from partners in several national and international institutions. The Michigan-based postdoctoral fellow will lead character coding of living and fossil taxa, develop phylogenetic matrices, and perform phylogenetic dating analyses. The postdoc will work with PI Lopez-Fernandez and in close collaboration with PIs Friedman (UM Museum of Paleontology) and Stiassny (AMNH). Work will center around generating and analyzing phylogenetic characters and morphometric data from three-dimensional reconstructions of living and fossil specimens derived from micro-computed tomography. While not part of the postdoc charge, there should be opportunities to participate in macroevolutionary analyses testing hypotheses of cichlid diversification through deep time. The postdoc will work in close coordination with a technician to help manage data curation and accessibility needs through a dedicated GitHub site and other resources for all project participants following the project's Data Management Plan. The postdoc will also participate actively in museum-based outreach activities in coordination with the PIs and the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History. The candidate will be trained in project management, scientific writing, presentation, public engagement, and mentoring. This includes opportunities through established initiatives like the Science Communication Fellows program (Museum of Natural History), the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), and the Center for Research on Teaching and Learning (CRLT). Funding is available for the research fellow to attend conferences and visit partner institutions participating in this collaborative project.

Mission Statement

The mission of the University of Michigan is to serve the people of Michigan and the world through preeminence in creating, communicating, preserving and applying knowledge, art, and academic values, and in developing leaders and citizens who will challenge the present and enrich the future.


The successful fellow will work in-person in Ann Arbor and will be responsible for: expanding an existing matrix of morphological characters by examining and coding living and fossil cichlids from micro CT reconstructions and museum specimens; reviewing stratigraphic information for relevant fossils; performing phylogenetic dating analyses combining morphological and phylogenomic datasets; preparing research findings for presentation at scientific meetings and manuscripts for publication; working with the project technician on data curation; providing, in conjunction with the PI, mentorship to undergraduate or graduate students that may be involved in the project; contribute to the project's Broader Impacts implementation by participating in the Science Communication Fellows program at the UM Museum of Natural History; contributing to the broader research group in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Museum of Zoology by, for example, giving seminars or providing support for less experienced members; and acting as a role model and fostering an inclusive work environment.

Required Qualifications*

The position requires a PhD in evolutionary biology, zoology, paleontology, or a related field. The candidate must be able to work independently and as part of a team. Strong skills in quantitative phylogenetic methods, vertebrate morphology, and data management are essential. Experience with anatomical study of museum specimens and CT scans is highly desirable. It is expected that the candidate will be intimately familiar with phylogenetic software and adept in R or a comparable programming language. The applicant will be able to demonstrate prior success in publication of original research. There is no prerequisite that the candidate has previous experience working with fossils or fishes, although both are desired qualifications.

Additional Information

The position comes with a salary of $56,485 and is for 1 year with potential for yearly extension for up to 2 more years depending on performance. The fellow will be based in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Museum of Zoology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Background Screening

The University of Michigan conducts background checks on all job candidates upon acceptance of a contingent offer and may use a third party administrator to conduct background checks.  Background checks are performed in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Application Deadline

Job openings are posted for a minimum of seven calendar days.  The review and selection process may begin as early as the eighth day after posting. This opening may be removed from posting boards and filled anytime after the minimum posting period has ended.

U-M EEO/AA Statement

The University of Michigan is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.