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PhD Position in Musculo-skeletal modelling in lizards, Sunshine Coast, Australia

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  • PhD Position in Musculo-skeletal modelling in lizards, Sunshine Coast, Australia

    PhD Position in Musculo-skeletal modelling in lizards, University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia.

    The Clemente Lab at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia is seeking outstanding applicants for fully-funded PhD scholarships.

    Our research focuses on the relationship between form, function and ecology of living and extinct animals. One fundamental goal in evolutionary biology is to understand how size can constrain the evolution of morphological traits and limit the ability to exploit ecological niches. Size influences all biological functions from cellular respiration, up to how fast an animals can run or climb. Yet to completely understand the influence of size on performance, we require information on the integration of multiple systems, including the nervous, muscular and skeletal systems.

    The PhD project will contribute to research that investigates the neuromuscular and biomechanical mechanisms associated with changes in body size using varanid lizards as a model. We have collected an extensive morphological dataset for this group including the muscle architecture of varanid lizards ranging from the smallest (7.6 g Varanus brevicauda) to the largest extant species (40 kg Varanus komodoensis), as well as their maximum speeds. We will use musculoskeletal models of varanid lizards in OpenSim to predict higher level biological parameters (e.g. running speed) in both living and extinct species. We will be able to scale our model up or down, exploring size, or change its shape (e.g. limb length). This will allow us to understand what the limitations to size are, in biological systems, and at what size certain structures no longer work. This research will have direct implications for understanding evolution as a process of optimisation.

    Essential qualities for candidates include:
    - strong computational and analytical skills in biomechanics
    - experience using biomechanical assessment tools (e.g. high speed video, force plates)

    Preferred qualities for candidates include:
    - interpersonal skills to work effectively with patients, research subjects, team members, and project collaborators.
    - excellent critical thinking skills, ability to work independently
    - research experience and practical knowledge of research principles is required whether through previous internship, work experience, or coursework.
    - interest or previous experience in musculo-skeletal modelling, e.g. SIMM/ OpenSim.
    - interest in evolutionary theory

    The Clemente Laboratory ( ) is part of the Animal Ecology Lab within the University of Sunshine Coast. We are located on the Sunshine Coast, approximately an hour north of Brisbane Queensland on the Sippy Downs campus.

    Course fees and a living stipend (currently $26,300 AUD per annum, tax free) will be included as part of the scholarship.

    The opportunity is open to both Australian/New Zealand nationals and international candidates, however exceptional international candidates will be considered (with top-up scholarships available to cover international tuition fees).

    For queries or if you are interested in applying please contact
    Christofer Clemente, PhD, School of Science and Engineering, with your CV.