I currently have several openings for PhD students in my research group. My lab has two major research themes: cognition and animal communication/social behaviour. These themes encompass several disciplines and recent projects include sexual selection, mating systems, signalling and cognition in a multitude of lizard species (blue-tongues, water dragons, eastern water skinks, great desert skinks, Jacky dragons, Chinese toad-headed agamas) and amphibians (cane toads, tree frogs).
I am particularly interested in finding a student to work on an Australian Research Council grant testing for social intelligence in Egernia skinks in collaboration with Richard Byrne (St. Andrews).
Here is some background: Uncovering the evolution of intelligence is one of science’s greatest challenges. Social intelligence theory suggests that sociality selects for increasingly sophisticated cognition, but this theory is heavily biased by studies of birds and mammals. To understand if cognition evolves independently using similar rules, we need studies of animals with different evolutionary histories. Egernia lizards evolved from a non-social ancestor and range in sociality from single individuals to family groups. We will integrate brain morphology, cognitive ability, and the lizards’ social system within a multi-species evolutionary framework to uncover the possible
early evolution and complex relationship between cognition and sociality.
Macquarie scholarships (MQRES) include an Australian Postgraduate Award equivalent tax-free stipend of $24,653 pa in (indexed annually) and a small relocation allowance. Students on scholarships are not obliged to contribute to teaching, but may do so to supplement their income if desired. In the Department of Biological Sciences, up to $20,000 is available to cover direct research expenses of each PhD candidate, and schemes from the Faculty of Science and Macquarie University Research Office are available to support travel to visit overseas laboratories and to attend international conferences (up to $5,000 per application). Applicants for the PhD program must have a master’s degree and a good academic record.
Entry into my lab is dependent on receiving a fully funded scholarship. The deadline for international student scholarships is 31 August and 31 October for domestic (Australian and New Zealand) students. If you are interested in joining my lab, please send me an expression of interest. Ultimately, I will need to see your CV, academic transcripts, two letters of recommendation and a brief description of your research interests. I will assist appropriate candidates to apply for scholarships and I need to have all applications by 20 August. I will consider domestic students after this date if there are still spaces available in the lab. For more information about my research group (The Lizard Lab) see www.whitinglab.com
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