Searching for PhD and honours students

Project Description

We are looking for excellent PhD (and honours) students to commence in 2019 on projects associated with two Australian Research Council grants examining evolution and adaptation in tiger snakes.

The candidate should have a strong interest in evolutionary biology (including the field of molecular evolution) and the natural history of reptiles. They will join a vibrant research team of Australian and international researchers, based at the University of Adelaide, that is focused on the diversity and evolution of Australian snakes.

The candidate will be supervised by Dr. Vicki Thomson and will be based at the South Australian Regional Facility for Molecular Ecology and Evolution at the University of Adelaide.

Project summary:
This project examines the geographic variation amongst tiger snakes in anatomy, ecology, and life history traits, and the relationship of these factors to venom toxins and production. The tiger snake is a unique system showing evolution/adaptation of multiple traits across island populations, including body size, head size plasticity, venom evolution, scale colouration etc. The project, which will be developed with the student, can be developed to examine island evolution in a range of traits, which could include the evolution of venom toxin genes that play critical roles in adaptation to different prey items on the islands, regulation of genes involved in plasticity of head size, evolution of genes involved in growth that results in gigantism or dwarfism etc. We have recently generated two genomes of tiger snakes, so these resources will be available to examine genes known to be involved in growth, metabolism, pigmentation etc. As part of this project, the candidate will develop skills in genomic DNA and RNAseq analyses, including next-generation sequencing and the associated bioinformatics.


Applicants should hold a first class honours degree or equivalent (MSc) and have experience in molecular genetic analyses and/or bioinformatics. Applications or enquiries should be sent by email to Vicki Thomson (

Australian students should first apply for an Australian Postgraduate Award scholarship in the mid-year round (due May 31st, 2019) for commencement between July 1st and Nov 30th 2019 (see International students should first apply for a University of Adelaide scholarship. The next round closes on Feb 15th for commencement between July 1st and August 31st. (or April 30th 2019 for commencement before 30th Nov 2019). See:

Thank you.


Dr. Vicki Thomson
School of Biological Sciences

The University of Adelaide
Benham Building
North Terrace Campus
South Australia 5005


University website:

Personal website:

Twitter: @Vicki_Thomson


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