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PhD in the Diversification of Life - Generating Novel Datasets to Examine Species Form Variety

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  • Full or part time
    Dr G Thomas
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Understanding how and why the diversity of life on earth varies through time and geographic space is one of the fundamental underpinnings of evolutionary and conservation biology. When we look at the immense diversity of life we can see several surprising patterns. The numbers of species and their variety of form and function is not evenly distributed across the tree of life. Work in my lab asks how this unevenness arises for species and trait, through time and across space. We have particular in interest in the causes and consequences of variation in rates of trait evolution (especially trait related to ecology or sexual selection) and diversification (speciation and extinction) in birds. To answer these questions, we use phylogenetic approaches combined with extensive use of natural history specimens (particularly collections at the Natural History Museum). We use a range of data collection techniques, including digital imaging and advanced 3D scanning methods alongside web-based citizen science (, to generate novel datasets. Although we typically work with birds, I welcome applications from candidates interested in any taxonomic group. PhD students in my group have the opportunity to develop expertise in: phylogenetic approaches to evolutionary biology, working with natural history collections, citizen science, 3D scanning, and digital imaging

Science Graduate School
As a PhD student in one of the science departments at the University of Sheffield, you’ll be part of the Science Graduate School. You’ll get access to training opportunities designed to support your career development by helping you gain professional skills that are essential in all areas of science. You’ll be able to learn how to recognise good research and research behaviour, improve your communication abilities and experience the breadth of technologies that are used in academia, industry and many related careers. Visit to learn more.

Funding Notes

The applicant will need to find funding to cover tuition fees and living expenses

The applicant should have, or expect to gain at least an upper second class degree, or equivalent overseas qualification, in a relevant subject

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