Steven Dessein steven.dessein at BIO.KULEUVEN.AC.BE
Mon Sep 27 04:17:22 CDT 2004

Dear colleagues,

Below follows an announcement for a PhD position available at the Laboratory
of Plant Systematics (K.U.Leuven; Belgium). We would appreciate if you would encourage
suitable students to apply.

Best wishes,

Erik Smets & Steven Dessein


 A PhD position is available at the Laboratory of Plant Systematics (K.U.Leuven; Belgium). The
successful applicant will work on a doctoral thesis in the context of the research project
‘Biogeography of Madagascar: origin and radiation of the Rubiaceae’ funded by the Flemish
Science Foundation (FWO-Vlaanderen). The project is a joined initiative of the Laboratory of
Plant Systematics (headed by Prof. Erik Smets) and the Department of Vascular Plants from the
National Botanic Garden of Belgium (headed by Prof. Elmar Robbrecht).

With ca. 650 described species (total estimated species number: 800-1,000) and 94 genera
(of which 33 are endemic) the Rubiaceae are the second largest family of flowering plants in
Madagascar. They are present in all terrestrial niches, from the coastal dunes to the high
plateaus in the centre of the island, but are especially prominent in all forest types. Because
the Rubiaceae are also well represented in other tropical floras, the family is a prime study
group to clarify the origin and radiation of the floristic biodiversity of Madagascar.
As the inventory of the Malagasy Rubiaceae is advancing rapidly, questions on the origin and
evolution of the Rubiaceae in Madagascar are becoming more relevant. How did
representatives of this large family reach the island? When and how did the introductions take
place? What are the closest relatives of the Malagasy Rubiaceae? And what are the
mechanisms driving the radiations that have taken place in many groups of Malagasy
In the project we aim to answer some of these questions by using molecular phylogenetic and
GIS techniques.

The PhD-position is funded by the FWO-Vlaanderen at ca. 1500 EUR per month. After an
evaluation period of 1 year, the position can be expanded up to 4 years. The position is
available from January 2005.
Foreigners are eligible to apply, but good English skills are necessary. The applicants should
have obtained a Masters in biology in the last three years. Since candidates will mainly be
using molecular phylogenetic and GIS techniques preference will be given to persons well-
trained in these fields. The succesfull candidate will be expected to finish his/her PhD-project
within the four years allotted.

To apply, please send cover letter, full CV, and 2
letters of recommendation by e-mail  to erik.smets at or by snail mail to
Prof. Erik Smets, Laboratory of Plant Systematics, Kasteelpark Arenberg 31, B-3001 Leuven,
Belgium. The letters of recommendation can also be faxed (0032 16 32 19 68). Deadline: 15
October 2004.

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