Does anyone know anything about NESCent (the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in North Carolina)? They’re affiliated with Duke, UNC, and NC State (the Research Triangle universities), and they offer postdoctoral fellowships. One of my committee members suggested it as a possible location for a postdoc, but I’m concerned that any potential project would be way heavy on computational work. I’m just trying to get a feeling for the center from anyone familiar with the research going on there.


  1. #1 coturnix
    February 12, 2007

    It is quite computational. They have no wet labs – you’d have to do that kind of stuff with one of the affiliated members. Lotsa meta-genomics and stuff. Also, lots of philosophy, education and outreach. Dig through the names of affiliated faculty and e-mail me – I may know the person and tell you more (or make a connection).

  2. #2 afarensis
    February 12, 2007

    Their website is here. They had a write up in Evolutionary Anthropology a while back.

  3. #3 MissPrism
    February 13, 2007

    I’ve a friend there who seems to like it as a working environment (but yes, she’s at the computer not the bench).

  4. #4 Reed A. Cartwright
    February 13, 2007

    I’ve been to NESCent before and know one of their postdocs. It’s a good setup for doing research. They have lots of symposia and visiting professors for making the connections. The only drawback for doing a postdoc there is that you don’t have a PI which can make it hard for you to form connections and network when it comes to finding a faculty position. If you already have a bunch of collaborators from your doctoral program, then you’ll be fine. Because my adviser passed away, I need to be part of a lab.

  5. #5 Mike White
    February 13, 2007

    Wow, it looks like a purely computational place:

    “NESCent will not fund collection of new data or field research, but encourages the mining of public and private databases.”

    If you’re interested in a great place with a good mix of experimental and computational work, check out Washington University’s Center for Genome Sciences.

  6. #6 Jason Stajich
    February 15, 2007

    NESCent is about synthesis, so the focus is not on collecting new data but using existing data in ways it hasn’t been before. That might mean integrating data sources for new comparative analyse for example. If you want to collect data or do experiments during the postdoc then I don’t think it will the best fit for you. It doesn’t mean you can’t test hypotheses, but it will have to be more theoretical.

    The access to Duke, UNC, and NCSU is great (I was at Duke during the 1st year of NESCent), with great evolutionary biology happening at all the institutions. You may also find that being in a more traditional laboratory fits with your ideas for future research.

    I would certainly think about it because the freedom and independence is really nice, but it will not be a traditional postdoc role with labmates, a mentor, and running back in after dinner to turn off a gel.

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