I am always happy to hear from students at all levels; from potential PhD’s to undergraduates looking for hands-on experience. I am open to any ideas that even vaguely align with the lab’s interests, or have various pre-built projects available (such as those below). Feel free to take a look at some of our work and send me an email!

Pathways

Aside from the occasional funded position, there are numerous routes to securing funding for honours, PhD’s, and postdocs. A few are listed below, and I will gladly do all I can to help qualified applicants attain support.

Postdocs: The University of Sydney offers its flagship Postdoctoral Fellowships on a yearly basis, with applications due in September.

PhD and Masters: Students will need to secure a scholarship such as an RTP or the University’s equivalent (which share an application), with application rounds twice per year.

Honours: Honours is an extra year of study following, or as part of, an undergraduate degree, and involves a substantial independent research component. Students both internal and external to USyd are able to apply, and it’s an excellent opportunity to gain significant research experience.

Undergraduates: I have projects available for students interested in gaining some hand-on experience, and prefer to collaborate on substantial self-contained projects with a view to publication. Volunteers are welcome, though people should be paid for their work whenever possible, and summer research scholarships are available to second- and third-year undergraduate to that end. They’re competitively awarded to students from any domestic (Aus or NZ) university, include a modest stipend for the six week duration, and applications typically close in September.

Projects

Work is ongoing, and enquiries are particularly welcome, in the following general areas:

Communication, aesthetics, and adaptation in the wild

The world is awash with visual information, which animals must gather and exchange in order to solve life’s daily challenges. Yet basic features of this process and its evolutionary consequences remain a mystery. How can colour and motion advertise the ‘quality’ of potential mates, and how do viewers decide? Can animals create private channels of communication away from the prying eyes of predators and competitors? To what extent are organisms adapted to their local sensory environments? The questions are many and the ultimate direction of any project can be tailored to suit. Fieldwork involves spending time on Australia’s beautiful beaches where the elaborate courtships and colourful signals of shore-dwelling flies serve as a model empirical context. While lab-based work entails analyses of behaviour, colour, and visual perception. Exciting opportunities for large-scale manipulative assays, comparative work, and experimental evolution also exist for longer-duration projects.

The social and sensory lives of ancient invertebrates

Velvet worms are a mysterious and charismatic group of basal invertebrates. Their predatory lifestyles and varied social lives raise fascinating questions about the origins of both group living and complex sensory systems. The questions are again myriad and can be guided by the interests of all involved. Fieldwork involves poking through logs and leaf-litter in some of Australia’s most beautiful forests, while the lab tractability of velvets offers exciting opportunities for behavioural and physiological experiments.