Post-doctoral Associate: Evolutionary biomechanics of salamander locomotion

Posted on June 9, 2024
Expires: August 01, 2024
The Fins and Limbs Lab is seeking a broadly trained postdoctoral associate to lead interdisciplinary research on the evolutionary biomechanics of salamander locomotion through an NSF CAREER grant awarded to Dr. Sandy Kawano ( The overall aim of the project is to identify the anatomical and biomechanical changes to the musculoskeletal system that promoted or constrained the evolution of terrestrial locomotion in tetrapods, using salamanders as a modern analog for early digit-bearing tetrapods. Metamorphosis and paedomorphy can promote higher evolutionary rates of morphological change compared to terrestrial direct developers but the ability of bones to resist the physical demands of locomotion is not only determined by morphology but also mechanical properties.
The postdoctoral associate will work with a collaborative team to examine how the interplay between habitat preference and developmental strategy mediates the relationship between the structure and function of tissues (e.g., bones) and whole-organism performance (e.g., locomotion) by integrating techniques from biomechanics, materials science and engineering, and evolutionary biology. Specifically, the postdoctoral associate would collect kinematic, kinetic, and electromyographic data to compare loading patterns in salamander limbs during terrestrial locomotion and then apply the loads to dissected limb bones on a universal testing machine to quantify their mechanical properties (e.g., stiffness). Consequently, the postdoctoral associate should have prior experience in 3D kinematic data from live vertebrate animals in laboratory conditions and in working with the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) in the U.S.A. or its equivalent elsewhere. Additional experience with 3D kinetics, DeepLabCut, geometric morphometrics, electromyography, and/or mechanical testing is desirable. A record of publishing relevant work in peer-reviewed journals and communicating the results at national and international conferences is strongly recommended.
This is a full-time position with a comprehensive benefits package that is based in the Department of Biological Sciences on the Foggy Bottom campus at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The position will initially be for a one-year term but may be extended another year upon completion of satisfactory progress. The start date for the position is ideally August 1, 2024, but is negotiable. The postdoctoral associate is required to hold a doctoral degree upon the official start date. Review of applications will tentatively begin on June 1, 2024, and continue until the position is filled.
Additional information and link to apply to the job are available here:
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