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Stick insect conservation genomics Ph.D. scholarship at the Australian National University

This project will suit a student with an interest in conservation genetics, molecular biology and bioinformatics.

The Lord Howe Island stick insect, thought to be extinct but recently rediscovered, has become emblematic of the dangers faced by island species in the face of anthropogenic change. A planned reintroduction effort aims to rescue this species, one of the rarest insects in the world, from the brink of extinction. Our aims are to explore the unique genome biology of this insect, and use it as a model for adaptation to captivity and to the post-release environment. Our project was recently funded for three years, and will build on the recent development of numerous genomic resources, such as a high-quality genome assembly. The project will combine cutting-edge molecular techniques and innovative approaches to genotyping of unusual material (historical and non-destructively sampled in the field) with the analysis of next-generation sequencing data. This project will blend fundamental science investigating genome evolution with research outcomes that will directly contribute to ongoing conservation efforts. Thus, skills obtained during this degree will be relevant to academia, as well as the conservation sector, including government and NGOs.

Suitable applicants need to be highly motivated with a strong academic and research background. Demonstrated ability to conduct independent research is required, with experience in programming or data analysis being desirable. Applicants should hold first-class honours or equivalent experience, such as a first-author publication in an international journal. The successful student will need to apply to ANU for enrollment, for international applicants ideally by this years August 31 deadline. The successful applicant will receive a stipend scholarship and research funds, including computer and travel funding.

Location: We will be based in the Division of Ecology and Evolution at the Research School of Biology at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia. The project will also be supported by Zoos Victoria, who hold a large captive population of the LHI stick insects at Melbourne Zoo, and are closely involved with the recovery effort on Lord Howe Island. Field work on Lord Howe Island is also likely to be involved.

Expression of interest: Expressions of interest should be submitted directly to Alexander.Mikheyev@anu.edu.au. International applicants should contact me by July 28, 2023, though the earlier the better so that we can coordinate the ANU application due on August 31th. Please include a brief statement on why you are interested in this project, a CV. Following assessment of applications one applicant will then be invited to formally apply to the ANU (a formality). The successful applicant will be able to start as soon as possible. You can also find out more information about the graduate program by clicking on the Higher Degree by Research tab at http://biology.anu.edu.au/education/degree-programs