ASSAB 2016: July 5-8th, Katoomba, NSW

ASSAB 2016 Public Lecture


Dr Lee Ann Rollins

Deakin University, Australia.

What makes a species successful at invasion? New approaches to an old question



July 6, 2016


6.00pm – 7.00pm


Main Gallery, Katoomba Brewing Company

Drinks: 5.30pm – 6.00pm



Faculty Positions

Two Assistant Professorships, The Department of Biology, The University of Texas at Tyler [March 26, 2016]

SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY: We seek applicants with expertise in synthetic biology emphasizing biomedical applications. Any area of synthetic biology with biomedical emphasis will be considered including, but not limited to, disease mechanisms, vaccine development, production of pharmaceuticals and therapeutics, treatment of infections and diseases, microbiome engineering, cell therapy, regenerative medicine, etc. The incumbent is required to establish a strong, extramurally funded research program in his/her area of expertise.

Qualifications: Ph.D. in a relevant field (synthetic biology, genomics, genetics, molecular biology, biochemistry, etc.) with a minimum of two years of  postdoctoral experience in synthetic biology. (ii) Demonstrated research creativity, productivity, and grantsmanship. (iii) Ability to develop a strong, extramurally-funded research program. (iv) Demonstrated record of collaborative research (v) Evidence of effective teaching and other communication skills. (vi) Teaching experience at undergraduate or graduate levels is highly desirable.

INSECT EVOLUTIONARY ECOLOGY: Any area of evolutionary ecology will be considered but preference will be given to candidates using integrative approaches and cutting-edge technologies, and addressing broad questions  in evolution. The incumbent is required to establish a strong, extramurally funded research program in his/her area of expertise.

Qualifications: Ph.D. in a relevant field (entomology, evolution, ecology, population genetics, etc.) with a minimum of two years of  postdoctoral experience. (ii) Demonstrated research creativity, productivity, and grantsmanship. (iii) Ability to develop a strong, extramurally-funded research program. (iv) Demonstrated record of collaborative research (v) Evidence of effective teaching and other communication skills. (vi) Teaching experience at undergraduate or graduate levels is highly desirable.

Available resources: The Department of Biology offers a stimulating intellectual environment and has an excellent reputation in research and teaching. Twelve faculty members undertake research in diverse sub-disciplines, including genomics, bioinformatics, population genetics, evolution, ecology, neurobiology, microbiology, molecular biology, and physiology. Research seminars by invited speakers are held weekly. The multidisciplinary Center for Environment, Biodiversity, and Conservation is housed in the Department of Biology. A major Center for Excellence in biomedical sciences and synthetic biology is in the planning stages. A new expansion with state-of-the-art research and teaching labs has just been completed along with renovation of all existing teaching labs. Three large and sophisticated walk-in environmental chambers are available for research as is a confocal microscope.  A computer lab connects UT Tyler to the Texas Advanced Computer Center via a 10 Gb internet connection. The School of Pharmacy opened its doors in August 2015. Shared equipment and facilities, including a brand new vivarium, are available at UT Tyler’s sister institution, the University of Texas Health Northeast. For additional information, please visit www.uttyler.edu/biology.

Location: Tyler is located 90 miles east of Dallas in the scenic Piney Woods area of East Texas. Tyler is the cultural center of East Texas, a region with over one million people, and boasts many amenities such as museums, a planetarium, a ballet, a symphony orchestra, and a renowned performing arts center. One of the 14 campuses of the UT System, UT Tyler offers excellence in teaching, research, artistic performance and community service. More than 80 undergraduate and graduate degrees are available at UT Tyler, which has an enrollment of more than 8,000 high-ability students at its campuses in Tyler, Longview and Palestine.

Applications: Please include (as a single PDF file) a) cover letter; b) detailed curriculum vitae; c) statement of research interests and professional goals, d) statement of teaching interests and philosophy; e) reprints of 3 relevant publications and email to. Dr. Lance Williams (Synthetic Biology) at lwilliams@uttyler.edu or Dr. John Placyk, (Evolutionary Ecology) at jplacyk@uttyler.edu. Additionally, please arrange to have 3 reference letters sent to the same addresses.

Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until a suitable candidate is found. Start date is negotiable. Apply here


Graduate Positions

PhD position, How do ants learn to navigate? Macquarie University, Sydney [March 17, 2016]

The project will investigate the onset of foraging behaviour in ants with emphasis on the choreography of learning walks and on how the synaptic complexity in the brain changes with age and with exposure to different sensory information. There will be opportunities to learn state-of-art neuroanatomical techniques and fine scale insect tracking methods. This project will require some curiosity and some degree of bravado as the large-eyed Australian Myrmecia (aka bull ants, inch ants, jack jumpers) will be the focus of this project.

Applicants should be enthusiastic about experimental field oriented research. Candidates with a background in microscopy, anatomy or neurobiology are particularly encouraged to apply.

The student will join the Ecological Neuroscience Group [http://ecologicalneuroscience.com] at the Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney under the supervision of Dr Ajay Narendra and Dr Franne Kamhi. This project will be supported through the Australian Research Council’s Schemes of Future Fellowship and Discovery Project.

Scholarship information is here

Start date: September/October 2016

To register an Expression of Interest, contact Dr Ajay Narendra [ajay.narendra@mq.edu.au] along with your CV.

PhD position, Crustacean vision: adaptable eyes for extreme changes in light, University of Bristol [March 16, 2016]

Photographers are familiar with the idea of controlling exposure by adjusting shutter speed and aperture, thus altering the amount of light that hits the camera chip. Most complex animal eyes have evolved to do something similar. For example, in humans the size of the iris and the sensitivity of the underlying light receptors and neurons can be quickly tuned, thereby allowing us to see in light levels varying by over 100 million times, from dark starlit nights to bright sunny days.

Crustaceans are no exception. Their compound eyes are composed of hundreds, or sometimes thousands, of repeated eye units (ommatidia) each viewing a different area in the world around. Each one of these ommatidia needs to adapt to local light conditions and does this using a system of moveable screening pigments within the light-sensitive cells. The intricacies of how crustaceans deal with rapidly changing light environments is not well understood. For example, many species (such as fiddler crabs) have eyes with very wide fields of view. This means that, while part of the eye could be experiencing very high light levels (e.g. in the direction of the sun), another part could be in the dark. How eyes simultaneously adapt different parts of their eyes to different light levels is relatively unknown. There are also suggestions that light adaptation in the eye of fiddler crabs could alter their sensitivity to the polarization of light.

This project will address key questions around how crustacean eyes deal with changing light levels. The student will take a multi-scale approach using a wide range of techniques, ranging from micro-anatomical studies using electron microscopy, through to behavioural experiments in the animal’s natural environment in Spain, Panama, and Australia.

The student will join the Ecology of Vision Group (www.ecologyofvision.com) at the School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, under the supervision of Dr Martin How and Dr Nicholas Roberts. The group currently hosts one principal investigator, two research fellows, two postdocs, and four PhD students, all working on diverse aspects of animal visual ecology.

Eligibility criteria: At least an upper second-class honours degree (e.g. MSci) or equivalent. Applicants with a good BSc degree may be considered if they can demonstrate very good potential for research. A keen interest in animal sensory ecology is essential, as well as demonstrable lab and fieldwork skills.

Scholarship details: This studentship is fully funded by the Royal Society, covering full UK/EU PhD tuition fees, research costs, and an annual stipend of £14,057. This award is available to UK/EU applicants only, unless suitable top-up funding can be identified for international candidates. If English is not your first language, you must have IELTS 6.5, or equivalent.

Start date: March-Sept 2016

Informal enquiries: Dr Martin J How (m.how@bristol.ac.uk)

Note: It’s funding for EU applicants only, so topup would be required for international.

Application Details: To apply for this studentship submit a PhD application using our online application system [http://www.bristol.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/apply]

Two PhD Scholarships: Honeybee behaviour and welfare. Macquarie University, Sydney [Oct 22, 2015]

Two Macquarie University PhD scholarships available for international and Australian domestic applicants in honey bee behaviour and welfare:

a. Examining mechanisms of cognition and goal-directed behaviour in honey bees: This project in cognitive neuroethology will examine how honey bees learn and process complex stimuli and choose and enact the most appropriate behavioural response. It will focus on visual learning, stimulus classification, resolution of uncertainty, goal-directed behaviour or operant learning and involve a combination of behavioural analyses, neural imaging and neuropharmacology. It will suit applicants with training in neurobiology. The project is aligned with a Future Fellowship Grant awarded to Andrew Barron to model functions of the bee brain. The new experimental data generated in this project will be used to synergistically test and improve models of brain function.

b. Improving honey bee health: The project will study the process of colony decline and failure in order to identify colonies at risk of collapse early and the best interventions to rescue colonies.  It will involve longitudinal detailed monitoring of colony growth and performance using new sensor technologies, and examination of impacts of pesticide and pathogen stressors on bees and colonies. The project is a collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture, and universities in the USA.

For more information on the research activities of the lab visit:


Scholarship details are given here:


To register an expression of interest contact Andrew Barron: Andrew.Barron@mq.edu.au


Field Assistant Positions

Superb fairy-wren volunteer field assistant positions

We are looking for field assistants to help monitor a colour-banded population of superb fairy-wrens near Melbourne, Australia for a study on animal personalities.

Time periods: Four-month minimum, commencing early September, or early January.

Duties include catching birds for personality testing before and after the breeding season (Oct-Jan), and regular censusing of colour-banded birds during the breeding season, searching for and monitoring nests, behavioural observations, video analysis, and data proofing. Working days are long, with early starts six days a week. Enthusiasm, self-motivation, and a strong work ethic are a must.

The study is based at Serendip Sanctuary, a small reserve with abundant birdlife on the outskirts of Melbourne.

Qualifications: experience monitoring colour-banded birds, nest-searching, and mist-netting. Must also be early riser, physically fit, able to work in extreme weather conditions, and enjoy basic shared living conditions.

Onsite accommodation in a house with shared dorm-style room is provided, but assistants cover travel to the site and their own food costs. The project will reimburse up to AU$750/mo towards receipted food and travel expenses.

For more information contact: Timon van Asten (t.van@unimelb.edu.au). To apply, please email a letter outlining previous relevant field research experience, and a resume including names and contact information for 3 referees that are familiar with your mist-netting and/or nest-searching experience.


Upcoming Conferences

2016. July 2- 9. 20th International Congress of Arachnology. Colorado, USA

2016. July 28-August 5, International Society of Behavioural Ecology Conference, Exeter, UK

2016. August. 8th World Congress of Herpetology, Hangzhou, China

2016. September 25-30. International Congress of Entomology, Orlando, Florida, USA

2018. July 12-14. Australasian Society for the Study of Animal Behaviour Conference, Brisbane, Australia.

2018. July 16-20. International Congress of Neuroethology, Brisbane, Australia

2018. International Union for the Study of Social Insects, Guarujá, Brazil.


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