PhD Position in GIScience and Modeling Language Evolution in Space and Time
University of Zurich Department of Geography

Department of Geography

PhD Position in GIScience and Modeling Language Evolution in Space and Time
60 %

With the launch of a new 'NCCR Evolving Language' which involves nearly 40 different research groups from a large variety of disciplines across Switzerland, we seek to fill a PhD position.

Our goal is to identify the mechanisms that underlie evolutionary processes of language diversification, both at biological and cultural levels. In an interdisciplinary research team, we will explore questions such as to what extent the rates of linguistic evolution are shaped by geography and/or population demographic history, and which structural properties of language evolve in a more vs less predictable way.

Your responsibilities

The successful candidate will become part of an interdisciplinary team of scientists in geography/GIScience (PI Robert Weibel), comparative language science (PI Paul Widmer) and population genetics (PI Kentaro Shimizu), and others in the NCCR. The candidate will join the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Unit, led by PI Weibel at the Department of Geography of the University of Zurich (UZH), where he/she will become part of a group with expertise in spatio-temporal analysis, spatial statistics, spatial diffusion modeling, phylogeographic modeling, and spatial data science. The main task of this PhD project will be to develop and adapt models for spatio-temporal analysis of demographic and linguistic diffusion processes.

Your profile

Applicants must have a completed MS/MA degree in GIScience, statistics, computer science, quantitative linguistics, or a related field. A strong background in quantitative data analysis, inferential statistics, computational modeling and programming is a prerequisite. Ideally, the candidate also has experience in spatial data analysis and Bayesian statistics. The successful applicant will also have a profound interest in collaborating in an interdisciplinary research team and in developing an understanding of linguistic research problems.

What we offer

We offer full funding for a four-year PhD project in a structured PhD program, outstanding working conditions, a high quality of life in Zurich, and the excellent supporting environment of the NCCR 'Evolving Language' and related projects and networks, such as the Swiss NSF project 'Out of Asia: Linguistic Diversity and Population History' as well as the UZH Research Priority Program 'Language and Space'.

Place of work


Start of employment

1 September 2020, or as soon as possible thereafter.

Please apply online by uploading PDF documents containing
1) cover letter emphasizing motivation to apply (1 page max.)
2) curriculum vitae, including
• contacts of two referees
• if available, access information to repositories that showcase your programming in an academic context, for example your GitHub portfolio
3) writing sample (e.g. summary of MS/MA thesis; 2 pages max.)

The NCCR places great emphasis on gender balance; we particularly encourage women to apply.

The position is available until filled (first deadline: 10 July 2020).

Prof. Robert Weibel

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