The Lougheed Lab ( and Riley Integrative Ecology Lab ( is recruiting a PhD student to investigate the sociality of Grey Ratsnakes (Pantherophis spiloides) based at the Queens’ University Biological Station ( and building on the strong foundation of ratsnake research that has been undertaken there.

Below are a few examples of research questions that this project could address, but we expect the PhD candidate to guide this research and tailor it to their own interests:

  • What is the mating system of Grey Ratsnakes? What abiotic (e.g., soil temperature and moisture) and biotic (e.g., kinship) impacts the use of nest boxes by snakes?
  • What are the genetic relationships among individuals within and among communal hibernacula? Is there site fidelity to hibernacula use?
  • Do Gray Ratsnakes aggregate? If yes, what are the composition and drivers of social groups?

This position will be co-supervised by Dr. Stephen Lougheed (Queens University, Kingston, Ontario) and Dr. Julia Riley (Mount Allison University, Sackville, New Brunswick). Dr. Lougheed’s lab has a state-of-the-art molecular ecology facility that will be used in this research. We are committed to empowering and supporting students to lead their research projects and encourage lab members to engage in professional development and outreach activities. Based at Queen’s, this PhD position will start January 2024.

Funding: This position offers a minimum guaranteed stipend of $25,800/y. Eligible students are expected to apply for external scholarships and research funding.


  1. Have successfully completed a MSc in biology, animal behaviour, ecology or a related field before the proposed degree start date
  2. Have meaningful experience or interest in behavioural ecology, field biology and herpetology
  3. Experience with basic research project management, like budgeting, animal ethics and permit application and reporting, and team management
  4. Possess strong verbal and written communication skills reflected in presentations at scientific conferences and successful publications in a peer-reviewed journals
  5. Experience with lab approaches in molecular ecology, social network analyses in R, as well as statistical analysis in R and reproducible scientific practices are all beneficial

Application Instructions: Email Dr. Lougheed ( and Dr. Riley ( using the subject line “Snake Behaviour: PhD Application” and include: 1) A brief cover letter that outlines your research interests and experience and how they align with the project, and provides 2 references who can be contacted to speak to your expertise; 2) Curriculum vitae; 3) Unofficial transcripts; and 4) A sample of your writing, if available. Review of all applications will begin on 30 September 2023 and will continue until the position is filled. Only applicants invited for an interview will be contacted. All qualified applicants are encouraged to apply, but preference will be given to Canadian citizens and permanent residents. As our research groups aim to cultivate diversity in STEM, we welcome and encourage applications from women, Indigenous, Black, LGBTQ+, and other under-represented persons.