Genetics of a C. elegans 3D behavior (postdoc)





Our laboratory researches a variety of fundamental questions using invertebrate (model) organisms, mainly the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. This project is situated in a collaborative environment of two teams who share interests in genetic regulation of behavior. Here, the specific focus is on the genetics of nictation; several other lab members work on related topics (see also:

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When starved, dauer larvae of many nematodes display a stage-specific behavior called nictation, in which they stand erect on their tails and wave back and forth. We are interested in nictation because:

  • it allows to disentangle fundamental principles of neuronal control over behavior;

  • it's a complex behavior run by a small nervous system;

  • there is long-term application potential: it is part of host-finding behavior of parasitic nematodes;

  • it's enticing: once you've seen it, you'll want to understand it!

Your project will build on recent developments in the lab that permit machine learning-assisted scoring of nictation behavior (McClanahan et al., BioRxiv 2023). Other work by us and others suggests that neuropeptides play a key role in regulating nictation (e.g. Cockx, Van Bael et al. Mol. Cell. Prot. 2023) and we are keen on building a more complete view of the genetic regulation of this behavior. We are looking for a postdoctoral candidate interested in:

  • performing a forward screen using the C. elegans MMP collection to find new regulators of nictation;

  • working with and further developing our in-house software used to acquire and analyze nictation behavior;

  • building a conceptual genetic regulatory framework for this behavior.

As a postdoctoral team member you will have the opportunity to expand your expertise in a multitude of rapidly evolving skills and technologies. These include genetics of C. elegans, QTL analysis, machine vision and machine learning-based image classification applied to recordings of behavior, and bioinformatics. Your research efforts will be in a fundamental biological context, but have potential applications in commercially-relevant biotechnologies that contribute to clean, sustainable agriculture.


A PhD in Bio-Engineering, Biophysics, Biology, Bioinformatics, Biochemistry or equivalent is a must. Experience with C. elegans neurobiology and/or QTL analysis and/or programming (preferably Python) are profile advantages.

Applicants must also have a competitive profile to apply for postdoctoral fellowship with regional and/or international granting agencies (e.g. FWO Flanders:, MSCA:

In addition, successful applicants:

  • are autonomous, yet sociable colleagues

  • are creative problem-solvers

  • can clearly communicate their research (results) to other lab members and research partners

  • have excellent research skills and a strong interest in bio-engineering, bio-informatics, genetics, and molecular biological methods

  • are proficient in English

  • are willing to supervise Bachelor and Master students

  • have basic statistical analysis skills

  • are generally curious and willing to learn

  • have a sense of responsibility and are able to take initiative to improve research

  • work results-oriented, i.e. they have the focus and abilities to work towards publishable units of scientific information


We offer a full-time position at the Division of Animal Physiology and Neurobiology in the Biology Department of KU Leuven (Belgium). The position is in the team of Prof. Temmerman, who collaborate on a daily basis with all LeuvenWorms teams (Temmerman-Beets-Schafer-Schoofs). You will work in a stimulating research environment and contribute to the team spirit of our research groups consisting of several postdocs and PhD students.

The initial 1-year contract includes an intended extension. For this, good evaluation upon competitive fellowship applications (excellent ranking or score, irrespective of the actual outcome) is a prerequisite.

The salary will be in accordance with the University salary scales for postdoctoral researchers.

KU Leuven is the top ranked university in Belgium and is among the top ten universities in the EU. It is situated in the beautiful medieval city of Leuven, which is also home to a vibrant international community and thriving economy. For more information on the University of Leuven, visit

Envisaged start to be agreed upon, asap within a reasonable bracket for admin and mobility.


For more information please contact Prof. Dr. Temmerman, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than May 08, 2023 via the online application tool

KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at

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