PhD opportunity – visual ecology of lizards

We are looking for a highly motivated and suitably qualified candidate to conduct a PhD program of research on reptile visual ecology, commencing in 2017.

The successful applicant will be guided to develop a project to investigate the visual performance and ecological adaptations of a range of lizard species with differing life history traits. The research will be primarily neurophysiological and neuroanatomical in focus, but with opportunities to employ molecular biology and behavioural approaches to assess visual function, depending on the project.

Macquarie University has world leading expertise in the fields of ecology and evolutionary biology, receiving the highest possible rating (5 – Outstanding performance well above world standard) in the 2015 Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) evaluation. The Department of Biological Sciences is equipped with cutting-edge electrophysiological and spectrophotometric equipment, comprehensive molecular and microscopy suites, and extensive animal keeping facilities.

The candidate will be supervised by A/Prof. Nathan Hart (Neurobiology Lab) and A/Prof. Martin Whiting (Lizard Lab) in the Department of Biological Sciences at Macquarie University.

Scholarship information

The MQRTP full-time stipend rate is $26,682 per annum (in 2017, tax exempt, for up to 3 years, indexed annually)

Prospective PhD applicants should have completed the equivalent of Macquarie University’s Master of Research (MRes) degree, MPhil or other 2 year Masters degree with a major research component and excellent results. Refer to the HDR Entry Criteria for more information about this (http://www.mq.edu.au/research/phd-and-research-degrees/how-to-apply/entry-criteria).

To be eligible for a PhD scholarship, applicants would be expected to have a record of excellent academic performance, especially in the research Masters degree, and additional relevant research experience and/or peer-reviewed research activity, awards and/or prizes in line with the University’s scholarship rating guidelines. Refer to the HDR Scholarship Requirements for more information about these guidelines (http://www.mq.edu.au/research/phd-and-research-degrees/scholarships/scholarship-requirements-and-how-to-apply).

If you are interested in applying, please send applications to Nathan Hart and they should include 1) your CV; 2) a brief statement of your research interests and why you are applying (max. 500 words), 3) contact details of two academic referees, and 4) your nationality (for scholarship eligibility purposes). Please submit applications electronically by 15 August, as a single PDF file.

Contact (send enquiries and applications)
A/Prof Nathan Hart
nathan.hart@mq.edu.au

Hot off the press! Roommates are not all they’re cracked up to be (if you’re a lizard)

Recently, myself and collaborators published our study that found – social experience has a crucial role in development of a family-living lizard. We also discovered that despite their social nature, the Australian tree skink (Egernia striolata) does not necessarily thrive in a ‘share-house’ environment.

Egernia striolata from Gluepot, South Australia

Group- and family-living . . . → Read More: Hot off the press! Roommates are not all they’re cracked up to be (if you’re a lizard)

Hot off the press! Toads at the invasion front are more prone to explore and take risks

By Jodie Gruber

The cane toad (Rhinella marina) has been spreading rapidly across northern Australia since its introduction to control sugar cane beetles in 1935. While toads have been the focus of considerable research, we still have a poor understanding of how behavioiural traits vary across the range, particularly with respect to traits that . . . → Read More: Hot off the press! Toads at the invasion front are more prone to explore and take risks

Julia Riley interviewed on ABC radio!

Take a listen to Julia Riley discussing our latest publication on the influence of social environment on learning in tree skinks (Egernia striolata). The interview was with Marc Fennell on ABC radio.

This work, led by Julia, has been published in Animal Cognition:

Riley, JL., Noble, DWA., Byrne, RW., Whiting, MJ. 2016. Does social . . . → Read More: Julia Riley interviewed on ABC radio!

Skinks and Ladders: A family-living lizard’s learning ability is not affected by their home environment

By Julia Riley

A family-living lizard’s ability to navigate through a complex maze is not linked to how they were raised

We have found that the learning ability of the Tree Skink, a lizard that lives with family, is not linked to growing up with others. These lizards were . . . → Read More: Skinks and Ladders: A family-living lizard’s learning ability is not affected by their home environment

Dispatches from the field: frogging at the DMZ

After attending the 8th World Congress of Herpetology in China, I had a night and a day in South Korea before flying on to my next destination, the US. What to do? As it turned out, I had a windfall (thanks Julia). I met Amaël Borzée, a PhD student from Seoul National University. Amaël . . . → Read More: Dispatches from the field: frogging at the DMZ

The 8th World Congress of Herpetology

Note: the following post is by Julia Riley and also posted on her web page.

On 14 August 2016, a small contingent of the Lizard Lab headed from Sydney, Australia to Hangzhou, China for the 8th World Congress of Herpetology. Our fearless leader, Martin Whiting, as well as James Baxter-Gilbert and I were the Lizard . . . → Read More: The 8th World Congress of Herpetology

The Slow Professor: Challenging the Culture of Speed in the Academy

Book Review

A Riley & Whiting Collaboration

Julia Riley’s Review:

First, I would like to say as an expat Canadian researcher, I am happy to say that two Canadian professors wrote this book! Woot!

This book proposes a means to tackle the effect corporatization of higher education has on universities. Their ‘Slow’ Professor Manifesto . . . → Read More: The Slow Professor: Challenging the Culture of Speed in the Academy

Why do winners keep winning?

by Fonti Kar

Animals often find themselves in direct competition with other individuals for resources and mates. Because fighting is costly, many species honestly signal their fighting ability to avoid injury (non-escalated fights). For example, in flat lizards (Platysaurus broadleyi), males can resolve dominance status by displaying their UV-reflective throats to their opponent. . . . → Read More: Why do winners keep winning?

Awesome new mini-documentary on Julia Riley’s PhD and social lizards!

Lizard Lab associate and honorary member Dr. James O’Hanlon has produced a fantastic mini-documentary about Julia Riley’s PhD work on tree skinks (Egernia striolata) and family living.

The documentary offers some great views of our Albury study site and the amazing lizards! It asks the question why are animals social, and talks about what . . . → Read More: Awesome new mini-documentary on Julia Riley’s PhD and social lizards!