FUNDED PHD OR MSC POSITION IN BEHAVIOURAL AND COGNITIVE ECOLOGY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF OTTAWA

Funding is available for PhD or MSc students in Dr. Morand-Ferron’s lab, University Research Chair in Cognitive Ecology (http://mysite.science.uottawa.ca/jmorandf)

Research on cognitive processes (e.g. learning and memory) has historically targeted mechanistic questions via neurosciences and psychology, leaving evolutionary considerations mostly unexamined. As a consequence we still do not understand why cognitive abilities vary so drastically between or within species, or how they evolve in the wild1. Our research aims at quantifying individual variation in cognitive abilities, and investigating its causes (heritability, development, habitat) and consequences (life-history, fitness). 

The proposed model system is that of wild-caught field cricketsGryllus spp. Field crickets have been suggested to use spatial memory of landmarks around their burrow to navigate their environment. We have recently demonstrated that Gryllus texensis can learn the location of food in a maze2 and are now investigating causes and life-history correlates of the observed individual variation in maze performance. The student could pursue this line of research, or investigate other research avenues on individual variation in cognition and behaviour in field crickets. In particular, I am keen to recruit a student for a co-supervision with Dr Sue Bertram at Carleton University (https://suebertram.ca/) on the cognition behind alternative reproductive strategies in Gryllus texensis. 

Selected candidates will be guaranteed a paid position of 20 000$/year (4 years for PhD, 2 years for MSc). Canadian applicants with >80% CGPA in their last two years of studies automatically obtain a uOttawa scholarship covering tuition fees for the duration of their program. International PhD students pay tuition at the level of Canadian students (˜8000$/year). Ideal candidates would have research experience in behavioural ecology, animal cognition, and/or working with insects. The candidate should be excited to join a highly-collaborative research group. There is no deadline for the application, although Skype interviews will start early October and positions may be filled after this time. Start date: Sept 2020 or Jan 2021. 

To apply: Send a 1-page cover letter, resume, and latest unofficial transcript to jmf@uottawa.ca 

Feel free to share this ad. I look forward to reading your application letter.

Dr Julie Morand-Ferron

References:

1 MorandFerron et al. (2016). Studying the evolutionary ecology of cognition in the wild: a review of practical and conceptual challenges. Biological Reviews, 91, 367-389.

2 Doria et al. (2019). Spatial cognitive performance is linked to thigmotaxis in field crickets. Animal behaviour, 150, 15-25.

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