The Laboratory of Microbial Systems Biology is looking for a motivated PhD candidate who is interested in the development of a platform that builds and analyses networks from microbial sequencing data. The young lab, started in 2016, is part of the Molecular Bacteriology unit at the Rega institute. In general, the lab's research projects aim at improving our understanding of microbial community structure and dynamics.
An increasing number of large-scale sequencing projects studies the composition of microbial communities in environments ranging from the open ocean to the human gut. These projects often yield abundance estimates for thousands of operating taxonomic units over hundreds of samples and are accompanied by rich metadata on the environment and the sequencing protocol.
Previously, a number of network construction techniques was developed and applied to these data sets to explore microbial community structure. However, these techniques often result in large networks, so-called "hairballs", which need to be further analysed to better understand the community under study. In this project, we will develop, implement and benchmark novel approaches to visualise, analyse and interpret these "hairballs", in order to gain biological insights from these challenging data sets.