PhD position(s) in evolution/behavior/physiology of host-parasite relationships
The Balenger Lab at the University of Mississippi is seeking 1 or 2 graduate students to join our research group beginning Fall 2018. Students should develop an independent research focus in line with ongoing lab projects. Current topics include 1) the adaptive value of phenotypic plasticity by recently acquired hosts in mediating effects of emerging pathogens, 2) the role of parasites in driving the evolution of host immunity and the expression of sexually selected traits. Our studies utilize relationships between common songbirds & the microbial pathogen Mycoplasma gallisepticum AND field crickets (Gryllus spp.) & the acoustically orienting parasitoid Ormia ochracea. (For examples of relevant publications see below.) Projects will utilize some combination of field, aviary, wet lab, and/or bioinformatic approaches; individuals are encouraged to pursue their own particular strengths and interests. Much of our fieldwork is conducted at the University of Mississippi Field Station (http://fieldstation.olemiss.edu/), which is close by and offers exciting opportunities for observational and experimental work.
Funding is guaranteed for 5 years, mostly through teaching assistantships, but research assistantships are also possible. Assistantships include benefits, a tuition waiver, and a competitive stipend ($22K for PhD students in 2018). An additional competitive financial supplement is available for top applicants, and there are opportunities for summer RA support. Review of applications will begin February 1st. For more details see the Biology Dept. website https://biology.olemiss.edu/programs/graduate/application-procedure/
Prospective students with a background in evolution, behavior, immunology, or disease ecology are strongly encouraged to apply. However, curiosity, determination and a collaborative attitude are the most important traits.
We support and strongly encourage applications from students from groups traditionally underrepresented in the sciences.
Interested applicants should contact Dr. Balenger well before the deadline with brief details about your GPA, GRE, research interests, experience, and why you want to go to graduate school.
Balenger S.L., Bonneaud C., Sefick S.A., Edwards, S.V., and Hill G.E. (2015) Plumage color and pathogen-induced gene expression in a wild songbird. Behavioral Ecology 26: 1100-1110.
Balenger S.L. and Zuk M. (2015) Roaming Romeos: male crickets evolving in silence exhibit increased locomotor behaviors. Animal Behaviour 101: 213-219??.
Balenger S.L. and Zuk M. (2014) Testing the Hamilton-Zuk hypothesis: past, present, and future. Integrative and Comparative Biology 54: 601-613.
Bonneaud C., Balenger S.L., Russell A.F., Zhang J., Hill G.E., and Edwards S.V. (2011) Rapid evolution of disease resistance is accompanied by functional changes in gene expression in a wild bird. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 108: 7866-7871.
Susan Balenger, PhD
Dept. of Biology
University of Mississippi