lundi 4 janvier 2016

PhD position in Insect Cognition, London

PhD studentship available at Royal Holloway University of London in the research group of Dr. Elli Leadbeater
Title: Cognition in a changing world- how do parasites and pesticides alter apian "intelligence?"
Duration: 3 years
Funding: Fully funded: includes tax-free stipend at UK research council rate (currently £16 057, rates for 2016/17 yet to be announced). Due to funding restrictions, this position is only open to UK citizens and/or EU nationals
Summary: Pollinators are currently undergoing rapid and potentially devastating global decline. Threats to bees are of particular concern for food security, because these insects pollinate more than a third of crops worldwide, and there is now robust evidence to link both agricultural pesticides and introduced parasites to colony declines.  Recent work suggests that such effects are in part mediated through reduced cognitive performance that limits individual foraging success, resulting in poor performance at the colony level. However, as yet the focus has been almost entirely on a single cognitive trait: learnt floral cue associations. Cognition encompasses a multitude of diverse traits, including working memory, spatial cognition, abstraction, reference memory, nonlinear learning and social cognition. Each trait plays a different role in producing efficient foragers- for example, whilst working memory is important in remembering flowers that have just been visited, reference memory most likely guides foragers home, and social cognition allows them to respond to behaviour of other bees. We know almost nothing about how pesticide exposure impacts upon each trait, nor how such effects might combine to hinder efficient foraging. This study will be the first in-depth treatment of the effects of parasites and pesticides on the multitude of cognitive traits that make up apian “intelligence.” Correspondingly, the results will be highly relevant to those interested in animal cognition, pollinator conservation, policy makers and food security stakeholders.
Research environment: Royal Holloway's leafy campus is situated in Egham, within easy reach of central London (40 mins by train from Waterloo). The department has particular research strengths in social insect biology, and the applicant will benefit from interaction with students and postdocs in both Elli Leadbeater's (primary supervisor) and Mark Brown's (second supervisor) research groups. This project will capitalise upon world-class facilities for insect research, which include a cognition lab, an indoor and an outdoor apiary and multiple bee rearing rooms.
Eligibility: Applicants must have an upper second or (preferably) first-class degree in biology, zoology, psychology or a related discipline. Evidence of research skills including statistical analysis, presentation skills and scientific writing skills is essential, as is a clear interest in animal cognition and/or conservation biology. Due to funding restrictions, applicants must be a UK citizen and/or an EU national.
Informal enquiries: Please direct these to Dr. Elli Leadbeater (
To apply: Please follow the application instructions on this webpage:
Deadline: 31st January 2016
Dr. Elli Leadbeater
School of Biological Sciences
Royal Holloway, University of London
TW20 0EX

+44 (0)1784 443547
+44 (0)7901 918423