Postdoctoral Opportunity: Semantic Reasoning for Biological Phenotypes

Phenoscape is an initiative to bridge the domains of evolutionary biology and model organism developmental genetics through machine reasoning over ontologically structured phenotype data.  The project recently received funding from the National Science Foundation to develop tools that can be used to integrate phenotype data throughout the vertebrates.

We are currently recruiting for a postdoctoral scholar in computational biology.  The postdoctoral scholar will contribute to two important research strands within the project:

1. Development of computational and statistical methodology for measuring semantic similarity between sets of phenotypes, in order to support searches within extremely large phenotype datasets.

2. Development and testing of methods for automatically generating ontologically based phenotype expressions from structured excerpts of natural language.

The position is based in the informatics group at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent), and is administered through the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) under the supervision of Hilmar Lapp at NESCent and Dr. Todd Vision at UNC-CH.   The research will be in collaboration with Dr. Chris Mungall at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and Dr. Hong Cui at the University of Arizona.  The project also includes biologists and bioinformaticists from the University of South Dakota, the University of Chicago, the University of Kansas, in addition to the model organism databases for mouse (MGD), zebrafish (ZFIN), and Xenopus (Xenbase).

Applicants should have a PhD in Computer Science or related field. Prior experience with machine reasoning using ontologies is strongly preferred. The position is for two years, pending satisfactory performance and availability of funds.  To apply, please provide a cover letter, CV, and contact information for three references.  Inquries and applications may be sent to Hilmar Lapp at  The post is open immediately and will remain open until filled.

For more information, please see