Opportunities

Now recruiting PhD students and Postdocs!

I am advertising several competitive Ph.D. studentships*. Successful applicants would begin in October 2023. Take a look at the project descriptions below and get in touch if you are interested. Please make informal inquiries prior to 20 December.
*interested applicants will work with me to develop and submit an application, the outcome of which will be known sometime in Spring 2021.

For information about joining as a post-doc, click here.

Durham is a charming market town, with a downtown area that doubles as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city of Newcastle is a short train ride away. For more information about living in and around Durham, click here.

I am a committed advocate for students and postdocs coming from backgrounds that have historically been marginalised in academic spaces.

Studentship Opportunities:

(1) Genomic and behavioural mechanisms driving the evolution of a novel visual signal in smoky rubyspot damselflies

Sexually selected animal visual signals have long fascinated biologists and lay-people alike, and the processes by which novel signals evolve has long been an important area of research among biologists interested in sexual selection. Yet, many important questions remain unanswered. One potential way forward is to leverage geographic variation in signal traits to examine the mechanisms that generate and maintain such variation. Smoky rubyspot damselflies (Hetaerina titia) vary both geographically and seasonally in the extent of wing pigmentation and are therefore well suited to such an approach. Previous field research has investigated the adaptive value of dark wing pigmentation: darkly pigmented (‘melanic’) individuals experience relatively low rates of behavioural interference with other sympatric Hetaerina damselfly species. Nevertheless, the evolutionary origins of this signal remain unknown.In this studentship project, the candidate will carry out several studies on smoky rubyspot damselflies to elucidate the factors responsible for the evolution of this polyphenism including: (1) How does phenotypic variation in wing pigmentation map on to patterns of gene expression?; (2) Have pre-existing sensory biases shaped the evolutionary trajectory of wing colour evolution?
     The student would gain a number of highly transferrable skills, such as field techniques for performing behavioural experiments with free-living damselflies, wet lab protocols for preparation of RNA-seq libraries, computational techniques for analysis of genomic and transcriptomic data, and data management.

Co-Supervisors: Dr Andreanna Welch (Durham University), Dr Oskar Brattström (University of Glasgow)
(For submission to NERC IAPETUS Doctoral Training Program competition)

(2) The impacts of species interactions on historical range dynamics

Competition between species has important evolutionary outcomes, but our understanding of how this competition impacts changes in species’ ranges is still incomplete. Particularly, both theory and a growing number of empirical studies show that interspecific behavioural interference, such as interspecific territorial and mating interactions, can slow down range expansions, preclude coexistence, or drive local extinction, even in the absence of resource competition. Given the rapid rate at which global changes are reshuffling Earth’s biodiversity, it is paramount to build an understanding of the impacts of competition on past range dynamics in order to understand its possible effects going forward.
     For this studentship project, the student will adapt and extend existing biogeographic modelling tools to identify the impact of species interactions on long-term range dynamics. Through empirical analyses, they will test the hypothesis that interspecific territoriality and reproductive interference (e.g., hybridization) have impacted historical range dynamics.

Co-Supervisors: Dr Christine Howard (Durham University), Dr Ignacio Quintero (Ecole Normale Supériuere, Paris)
(For submission to Durham Doctoral Studentship competition)

Postdoc Opportunities:

At the moment, I do not have funds to hire a postdoc. However, I would be glad to hear from folks interested in developing funding applications for postdoctoral fellowships (e.g., through Marie Curie Actions, Newton International Fellowships, or others). I am open to discussing the possibility of working remotely (i.e.,"ghostdoc"ing).