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PhD Scholarship in Neuroecology - Investigating the neural bases of animal behaviour in the context of its habitat and ecology.

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Our Research Laboratory lies at the intersection of two major fields of biology (Neurobiology: the study of the nervous system, and Ecology: the study of the interaction between living organisms and their environment). Neuroecology bridges the gap between our knowledge of the neural bases of animal behaviour and the consequences of that behaviour in the context of an animal’s habitat and ecology.

We use innovative neurobiological techniques such as molecular genetics, bioimaging, electrophysiology, anatomy and behaviour to examine how key elements of the physical environment such as light, sound, odours, and electromagnetic fields are detected and processed by the peripheral and central nervous systems and how this influences their behaviour. The ability to perceive these environmental cues is critical to the survival of each species. Model indicator species are used to assess how ecosystems may be faring in light of climate variability and habitat loss or degradation.

Current Research Programs:

"Environmental impacts on the neural basis of behaviour"
Investigating the relative importance of vision, olfaction, audition, lateral line, electroreception, gustation and magnetoreception by examining both the peripheral sense organs and the brain.

"Sensory ecology of deep-sea organisms"
Examining the importance of different sensory modalities by quantitatively assessing both the number of nerve axons and the relative size of the sensory brain regions that receive input from the peripheral sense organs.

"Sleep and the physiological drivers of activity"
Investigating behavioural patterns of circadian inactivity, and the influences of environmental light using physiological indicators of sleep (heart rate, respiration, activity patterns and muscle activity) and the non-invasive recording of brain waves.

Your Role:
The successful candidates will be expected to conduct research under the guidance of Prof Shaun P. Collin (, with the aim of obtaining a PhD in Neuroecology. They will also be expected to contribute to the department’s many activities, including seminars, teaching, outreach and various other research related events.

You should:
• be enthusiastic and highly motivated to undertake further study at an advanced level with a keen interest in the research themes of the Neuroecology Group;
• be able to demonstrate strong academic performance in subjects relevant to neuroanatomy, sensory ecology, and/or behavioural neuroscience and have a strong desire to learn new and complex analytical techniques applicable to these subject areas;
• have strong written and communication skills, with the ability to work independently and in a team-oriented context.

Eligibility criteria
The successful applicants should have:
• an Australian Masters degree by research degree in a relevant discipline completed within the last ten years assessed at a La Trobe Masters by research standard of 75 or above; OR

• an Australian Honours degree, Masters by coursework or ungraded Masters by research degree completed within the last ten years where you achieved a weighted average mark of 70 or above across any coursework subjects; AND any of the following assessed at a La Trobe Masters by research standard of 75 or above:
- a research thesis of approximately 15,000-20,000 words; or
- the degree includes a written research component comprising at least 3/8 of one year; or
- you are the lead author of a peer-reviewed publication or other research published within the last ten years

International applicants must demonstrate English language proficiency and are required to hold an Overseas Student Healthcare policy for the duration their study in Australia. This cost is not covered by the scholarship.

Funding Notes

The scholarship provides:
• A La Trobe Research Scholarship for three and a half years, with a value of $28,092 per annum, to support living costs.
• In addition to receiving the tax-free stipend of $28,092 per annum, the successful candidate will also be provided with an RTP scholarship, which effectively covers the tuition fees.
• A fee-relief scholarship (LTUFFRS) for four years to undertake a PhD at La Trobe University (international applicants only).

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