Not all PhD students want to pursue a career in academia; some definitely do, while others feel that they would like to further their academic training through doing a postdoctoral fellowship before moving into industry or other fields.
But how do you go about getting a postdoc?
Professors Dustin Marshall and Craig White will be speaking about their experiences as academics looking for postdocs, and we invite students and interested early career researchers to join us armed with questions about how to go about getting a postdoc, what to expect from a postdoc and ‘conversations you should have’ when starting a postdoc.
When: 2 pm, Thursday 23 August 2018
Where: Sanson Room (22 G01/02) Rainforest Walk, Monash University Clayton
Many conferences seem to happen during the Melbourne winter providing a welcome opportunity for researchers to travel to warmer parts of the world to share their research findings.
At the moment Giulia Ghedini is heading towards the University of New England (Maine, USA) to attend a Gordon Research Seminar on unifying ecology across scales. Giulia will be meeting up again with Diego Barneche who has moved on from the Centre for Geometric Biology and is pursuing his interests in ecological theory at The University of Sydney.
In the meantime Louise Solveig Nørgaard and Martino Malerba are heading to Montpellier in France for the Evolution 2018 conference. Louise will be talking about her PhD research, supervised by Matt Hall, which suggests that the invasion success and the subsequent intensity of infectious disease can be influenced by the population dynamics of the host population. Louise is interested in exploring how the dynamics of expanding host populations, and the capability of different pathogen genotypes to disperse into new host populations, will likely affect the epidemiology and evolution of infectious disease.
Martino will be presenting his latest work that combines the experimental data from his artificial selection experiments with energy based models. Martino has used this combination of approaches to provide direct evidence on the costs and benefits of different cell sizes. His findings suggest that the current size of a species is the product of context dependent selection pressures in nature.
On Friday 8 June, Belinda Comerford and Liz Morris visited the grade 5/6 students at Windsor Primary School.The students were given a brief introduction to the research going on within the Centre for Geometric Biology before splitting up to examine communities of sessile (non-moving) invertebrate animals.
The students used identification cards and jars of a single celled algae to use as a food source to investigate the following questions:
How many different types of animals can you see?
Are there more or less than you thought there might be?
What do you notice about their size and shape?
How do they get their food?
How are they all able to live together?
Thanks to the 5/6 teachers Laura O’Meara and Tom Gosling for inviting us into the classroom.
Giulia’s work is important because it is the first demonstration of the energetic mechanisms that underpin density-dependence. Up until now reductions in body size in denser populations have been attributed to reduced food intake due to increased competition, but Giulia found that it was not so simple. In her study, she found that population density influences both the energy intake (food consumption) and expenditure (metabolism) of individuals. By reconstructing their energy budgets across population densities, she was able to demonstrate that smaller sizes result from the faster decline of energy intake relative to expenditure as density increases, such that scope for growth is reduced.
New interdisciplinary study
Martino Malerba will be starting work in collaboration with the Faculty of Engineering to measure the metabolism and energy output of individual cells simultaneously.This cross disciplinary study is funded by the faculties of Science, IT and Engineering and will bring together techniques developed in the two departments and which have never been combined before.
Martino will be using his artificially evolved large and small algal cells described in previous posts to ask the fundamental biological question how much of the total energy (metabolism) of a cell is invested into locomotion, that is, energy output? To do this Martino and Callum Atkinson from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering will first characterize total metabolic energy of individual cells, using the high throughput phenotypic array in the Centre for Geometric Biology.
Then, for the same cells, Martino and Callum will use the techniques developed in Laboratory for Turbulence Research in Aerospace and Combustion (LTRAC) to analyse the power output associated with swimming performance of cells moving through the fluid.
Amanda is now officially Dr Pettersen and will be moving to Sweden in a couple of months.Amanda has been awarded a Postdoctoral scholarship from the Wenner-Gren foundation to undertake research for 1–2 years on maternal affects and climactic adaptation in wall lizards (Podarcis muralis) at Lund University with Tobias Uller.
While commonly distributed throughout Mediterranean Europe, wall lizards have more recently been introduced north of their natural range to England. Despite experiencing air and soil temperatures 6–10 °C cooler than their native range, introduced populations in England have rapidly adapted to their cooler climate, exhibiting faster embryo growth and developmental rates which allows offspring to complete development before winter. Through the use of experimental approaches, Amanda hopes to identify general mechanisms by which maternal effects facilitate rapid, counter-gradient adaptation.
We are delighted to welcome Professor Troy Day from Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada who will be joining our discussion group.
Troy will give a brief presentation about “The evolutionary advantages of haploid versus diploid microbes in nutrient poor environments”. Troy will talk about the nutrient limitation hypothesis and how theoretical predictions compare with empirical observations.
Postdocs Martino Malerba and Giulia Ghedini will also be giving short presentations about their latest research on artificial selection and energy budgets of phytoplankton and invertebrates.
Presentations will be followed by general discussion and we invite you to join us for this discussion.
Thank you to everyone who spoke at last week’s mini-symposium here at Monash. It was a great opportunity to hear all the different research programs that are currently underway.
While Centre members are working on a range of different organisms and biological systems including microbes, unicellular algae, invertebrates and fish, the core theme of understanding how size and shape affect energy acquisition and loss was a unifying theme.
The CGB allows all the different areas of research to use energy as a common currency for understanding life histories of individuals and dynamics of populations, communities and even ecosystems.
We are looking forward to further research stories at upcoming monthly meetings.