[MARMAM] PhD Studentship - immunology of California sea lions

Karina Acevedo kacevedow at gmail.com
Mon Sep 26 10:09:04 PDT 2011

Ontogeny of the immune system in the California sea lion (CONACYT funded

The California sea lion is an ideal model to address issues on ontogeny and
evolutionary ecology of the immune system.  The species displays high
polygyny and marked sexual dimorphism once reaching sexual maturity.
Furthermore, mortality and growth rates vary between sexes. In this sense,
they allow testing hypotheses on early immune tradeoffs and differential
maternal investment. We recently found that Galapagos sea lion pups are
significantly affected by living close to urban settlements in terms of
their immune activity, and that this in turn has an impact on their survival
(Brock et al. in prep).

As part of a wider project on Ecoimmunology of California sea lions, this
doctoral project will describe the ontogeny of the immune system in the
California sea lion, a species closely related to the Galapagos sea lion,
but whose sexual dimorphism is more marked and has higher differential
growth rates and is subjected to distinct pathogenic pressures.

This PhD project will rely on molecular genetic and ecoimmunology techniques
to describe the changes and maturation of pup and juvenile immune respones
as well as the cost of its activation with respect to growth and
steroidogenesis. Together with other parts of the larger project, this study
will help identify key components of early immunity. In a broader sense,
this project will add to our understanding of evolutionary ecology of
vertebrate immunity.

The candidate should have a solid background in biological or biomedical
sciences, a good level of english and spanish, some field experience and a
good physical condition as the work will involve several periods working in
harsh conditions in the Gulf of California. In order to be successful, the
candidate must also fulfil the requirements for the Doctoral Program in
Biological Sciences of the Autonomous University of Queretaro (UAQ, Mexico)

Applicants should send their CV, three academic letters of recommendation
and a letter explaining their interest in the project before 15 November
2011. Selected candidates will be contacted by email and interviewed end of
November. The doctoral position will start anytime after February 2012.
Please send complete application to Dr. Karina Acevedo-Whitehouse (
karina.acevedo.whitehouse at uaq.mx)
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