Two Ph.D. positions available
two 42-month-funded PhD positions:
Driving individual and collective behaviour in invasive ants
The two PhD positions will form the backbone of our new ERC-funded project: Cognitive Control.
The aim of COGNITIVE CONTROL is to gain fundamental insights into collective cognition and apply them to the emerging global challenge of invasive animal control. Invasive ants are ecologically devastating, economically damaging, and almost impossible to control. Ants are protected physically and by social immunity. However, their cognitive abilities are almost universally ignored, and offer novel angles of attack.
Individual choice of Argentine ants will be steered using behavioural economic and cognitive interventions. Psychological effects, such as conditioned taste aversion, which may cripple current alien species management, will be tested and overcome. Finally, we will use neuroactives (e.g. caffeine) to improve learning and manipulate preference. Then, we will take the successful individual-level manipulations on to the colony level to gain deep insights into collective cognition. By tracing trophallactic networks we will broaden our understanding of social immunity, which may protect ant colonies from attack, and learn to disrupt it.
The Ph. D. researchers will be responsible for carrying out the experiments outlined in the proposal, analysing the data, and writing up the findings for publication. In addition, there will be extensive opportunities to develop their own research agenda, design their own experiments, and supervise MSc and BSc students. They will receive very close supervision and support in all aspects of their academic work.
In addition to a rewarding academic experience, the successful candidates will get to live in one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Europe, with a large and thriving
student community, all set within the beautiful Bavarian countryside. Regensburg is a wonderful city to live in, and the University of Regensburg is a wonderful institution to work in.
This advertisement is not legally binding. The official advertisement (German only) can be found here. But be warned: it's not very informative.
Requirements and details
The positions are set to start on or around April 1st 2021, although some flexibility can be arranged for the ideal candidate.
- an MSc in Biology, Zoology, Comparative Psychology, or a related field
- excellent written and spoken English
- Experience in carrying out behavioural experiments
- a genuine love of behaviour and biology
Also advantageous is
- Experience in working with (social) insects
- Some statistical analysis skills
- Some programming or automated data collection skills (e.g. Python)
- Strong references from previous supervisors
For more information, or to apply, contact
Applicants should send: their C.V., a personal statement of motivation, and the contact details of at least one previous supervisor willing to provide a letter of reference. The application deadline for this position is the 15th January 2021.