Department of Comparative Language Science

PhD Positions in Animal Meaning
80 %

We are looking for two doctoral students to conduct research on how meaning is generated and understood without language. Our goal is to compare primate (sooty mangabey) and non-primate (meerkat) animal signals with non-linguistic sounds humans produce before and after the onset of language.

The position is funded by the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) Evolving Language, a Swiss consortium with the ambitious goal of creating a new discipline, Evolutionary Language Science, that targets the past and future of language. The consortium consists of leading scientists from traditionally separated academic domains, which allows us to harvest the diverse expertise from the humanities, social sciences, computational sciences, natural sciences and medicine towards a broadscale interdisciplinary collaboration.

Your responsibilities

The successful candidates are expected to:

Your profile

The candidates are expected to:

What we offer

We offer varied and interesting work in an inspiring and socially relevant environment. Salary is according to the pay scale of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF).

We take gender balance and diversity seriously in hiring decisions.

Place of work

The positions are located at the Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, Animal Behaviour, and the Department of Comparative Language Science.

Start of employment

Start of employment will be June 1, 2024 or upon agreement. The employment will last for a maximum duration of 4 years.

To apply, please compile the following documents into a single PDF labeled 'YourSurname_human infants.pdf' and send it to
or 'YourSurname_meerkats.pdf' and send it to

The positions are available until filled; we will start reviewing applications from March 1, 2024.

A third position (primates) is advertised separately: PhD Position UniNE

Relevant background reading:

Further information

For further information contact
Sabine Stoll (human infants) or
Marta Manser (meerkats).