Now recruiting PhD students and Postdocs!
I am advertising several competitive Ph.D. studentships*. Successful applicants would begin in October 2024. Take a look at the project descriptions below and get in touch if you are interested. Please make informal inquiries prior to 15 December. *interested applicants will work with me to develop and submit an application, the outcome of which will be known sometime in Spring 2024.
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.
(1) Genomic mechanisms of non-adaptive radiation in rubyspot damselflies
Rapid radiations, such as the iconic Galápagos finches or Lake Victoria cichlids, have been the central focus of evolutionary biologists interested in explaining the origin and accumulation of biodiversity. Yet, most clades do not fit this standard model. Non-adaptive radiations, for instance, are widespread and occur when diversification occurs in the absence of ecological divergence.
Damselflies are emblematic of non-adaptive radiations, as most sympatric congeneric species occupy very similar niches. Under a widely accepted conceptual model for diversification in damselflies, diversity accumulates via the evolution of species-specific genital morphology in allopatry. But, reproductive isolation is not always complete among sympatric species of damselflies. Moreover, ecological theory predicts that competitive exclusion should predominate in the face of ecological equivalency. As such, this conceptual model is incomplete. Using analyses of whole genomes and transcriptomes of two pairs of recently diverged rubyspot damselflies (H. americana and the recently described cryptic lineage H. calverti, and a recently discovered split within H. titia), the student will lay the groundwork for a thorough examination and revision of the model of non-adaptive diversification.
The student would gain a number of highly transferable skills, such as fieldwork experience, wet lab protocols for preparation of RNA-seq libraries, computational techniques for analysis of genomic and transcriptomic data, and data management.
(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.
(For submission to Durham Doctoral Studentship competition)
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).