Field of Science

Professorship in France

On EvolDir there is this job-posting:
*The lab of "Biometry and Evolutionary Biology" UMR CNRS 5558, (***University of ******Lyon**, France)* offers a permanent position for 2013 : Assistant professor (Maître de conférences) in Modelling approach in Genetics-Ecology *

*Teaching :Mathematics**and statistics applied to biology, animal biology*

The applicant will join the teaching staff of the "Agronomy section" of the Biotechnology Departmentof the Technology Institute at Lyon 1 University.He or She will teach mathematical functions and data analysis (1^st year students). The applicant may also be called upon to teach zoology (anatomy and histology of mammals and insects) and genetics (1^st year students). Finally, He or She will participate to the supervision of the numerous tutoring works made by the students of the 2^nd year of the Agronomy section (breeding of animal laboratory models, experimental methodology, reports...) and to the monitoring of the students during their work placement.Beyond teaching, He or She will engage in collective responsibilities of the department and be willing to develop new vocational training.

*Research: Evolution in fluctuating environments: modelling approach in Genetics-Ecology*

Understanding fast evolution of traits (morphological, behaviour, life histories) and population evolvability in fluctuating environments needs on taking into account genetic architecture of these traits in complement to phenotypic approach. The aim is to build models (genetic-ecology) to study how the genetic architecture influences trait evolution. Temporal and spatial components of the environment will be considered. The candidate will be theoretician and modeller with good experiment at the interface between theory, modelling and biological data. He/she will use the data basis (insects and vertebrates) of the evolutionary ecology department in order to build realistic models. He/she will interact greatly with the field ecologists. The candidate must be very familiar with the concepts and modelling/programming tools in evolutionary ecology and, quantitative and population genetic and be able to connect teaching (including animal and vegetal biology) and research activities.

Seriously, what is up with that? The work sounds really interesting, and it sounds like they have really good data. However, this reads like a postdoc position in some professors's lab - not like an assistant professor position! It's a permanent job, and yet they want to dictate this level of detail for someone who is supposed to be an independent researcher. I want to scream that this is not acceptable, but I suppose I should just be glad that things are much more liberal in academia in the United States.


  1. Maître de conférences can mean lecturer, tutor, instructor, as well as associate professor. The academic hierarchy is just not commensurable (easily translatable) between France and America (or Germany). You will be eligible for that position, if you have a doctoral title (no additional post-docs required though maybe of advantage).

    Due to its history, France has the CNRS(Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique = National Center for Scientific Research) as a parallel world to the universities (like the Max-Planck Gesellschaft in Germany but much bigger).

    I remember from a visit, that the CNRS has more funding and a more secure positions (tenure) for staff below the professor position than German universities. Students I'd have regarded as post-docs already had tenure after a probation period of 2 years (depending probably on one's publications).

  2. So this position might be equivalent to a tenured postdoc?

  3. Incommensurability. Why should it be equivalent to anything you know? Pierre Duhem, for example, assumed the position of Maitre de Conférences at the Faculté des Sciences at Lille in October 1887, according to the Stanford Enzyclopedia of Philosophy, yet he obtained his doctorate only in 1888 (after a his first thesis was rejected for political reasons).


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