PhD Project Commencing 2018

The Stuart-Fox lab is seeking a PhD student to join an interdisciplinary project involving thermal adaptations, colour, near-infrared reflectance properties, and nano-structures in beetles. The project is funded by the Hermon Slade Foundation and the University of Melbourne. We are particularly keen to recruit students with a background or interest in the interface between biology and optical physics.

Project description
Animals have evolved remarkable and unique ways of controlling light (e.g. fluorescence, iridescence). Until now, biologists have focused almost exclusively on how ultraviolet (UV) and human-visible wavelengths are manipulated to produce the diversity of colours and optical effects we see in nature. However, the way near-infrared wavelengths of sunlight are controlled to affect body temperature is critical to survival; yet the adaptive significance of near-infrared variation remains almost entirely unexplored in animals.

This project will characterise near-infrared variation in leaf beetles (Chrysomelidae) and reveal its adaptive significance using experimental approaches. The project will also reveal how the nano-scale architectures of beetle cuticles control UV-visible and near-infrared light, enabling them to balance camouflage, communication and thermal requirements. Discovery of nano-structures to manipulate near-infrared light has exciting potential biomimetic applications.

Successful applicants will be assisted in applying for an Australian Postgraduate Award (for Australians) or an International Postgraduate Research Scholarship (for Internationals) through the University of Melbourne. To be competitive, a First-class Honours or Masters Degree (or international equivalent) or publication in international journals are essential. Please send applications by 1st October or earlier.

To apply, please send A) A brief letter outlining your research interests; B) a CV, C) your academic transcript/grades, D) contact details of two referees (including a previous research supervisor). For further information, and to submit applications, please contact:

Devi Stuart-Fox