PhD position: Development of vocal communication in wild chimpanzees

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Tai Chimpanzee Project

Jun 27, 2022, 8:18:53 AMJun 27

PhD position:


Apply here (before 13 July 2022):

General information

Reference : UMR5229-CATCRO-006
Workplace : BRON
Date of publication : Wednesday, June 22, 2022
Scientific Responsible name : Catherine Crockford
Type of Contract : PhD Student contract / Thesis offer
Contract Period : 36 months
Start date of the thesis : 1 November 2022
Proportion of work : Full time
Remuneration : 2 135,00 € gross monthly

Description of the thesis topic

We are looking for a bright and highly motivated prospective PhD student to join The Ape Social Mind Lab. We are an energetic lab with broad interests around the topic of the evolution of sociality, communication, cognition and cooperation. We combine behavioural observations, non-invasive sample collection for endocrinological measures, video and audio recordings, field experiments and collaborate with neuroscientists in imaging of postmortem brains of naturally deceased primates, to investigate the evolutionary roots of human behavior, communication and cognition.
This PhD should address the ontogenetic development of vocal complexity in chimpanzees and ask questions like: Why did we become social and communicative? What socio-ecological pressures select for complex communication systems? How complex is the communication of our closest living relatives? Do structural differences in primate brains equate to functional differences? Our philosophy is one of collaboration, teamwork and data sharing. The successful candidate needs to thrive both under remote jungle conditions requiring physical endurance and stress resilience, and when engaging in precision tasks of following strict data collection protocols, data organization, R programming and statistical modelling. Self-reliance, emotional maturity and the flexibility to live in close quarters with others are key.
Excellent grade in relevant Bachelors (eg Biology, psychology, anthropology, neuroscience)
Excellent grade in relevant Masters (eg Biology, psychology, anthropology, neuroscience)
Experience in collection of social or vocal behaviour of wild primates
Experience conducting statistics using R
Languages: Fluent in English and French
Interested candidates should apply by emailing me at: with the subject header: 'PhD Application-YOUR NAME'. Please provide the following:
1. CV
2. Cover letter indicating how you meet the specified requirements and why you would be suitable for this position.
3. Research proposal assessing the development of vocalization sequences in three primate species. State the research question you would ask, how you would address this (methods) and what this would tell us about the evolution of language (Max. 600 words)
The top candidates will be invited for interview (initially via zoom) in late July/early August.

Work Context

In The Ape Social Mind Lab (Director of Research: Catherine Crockford and Roman Wittig), we are recruiting a PhD candidate to study the topic of the evolution of language, cognition and sociality, with a particular focus on the ontogenetic development of vocalisations in wild chimpanzees. The research forms part of the Evolution of Brain Connectivity Project, an exciting collaboration between CNRS, Lyon and Max Planck Institutes, Leipzig. The chosen candidate will collect data from wild chimpanzees in the Tai National Park, Ivory Coast for one year.
Associations: CNRS Institute of Cognitive Sciences, University of Lyon Neurosciences and Cognition Doctoral School, and the Tai Chimpanzee Project, Ivory Coast.

Constraints and risks

Some tasks is a remote field site are required.

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