Student Projects available in the Ebach Lab@UNSW

Topics: Biogeography Systematics History of Science


If you are interested in biogeography and systematics, have an idea for a PhD or Maters project and want to study at UNSW, please let me know.


Biogeography

BIOGEOGRAPHY OF THE GREAT DIVIDING RANGE (MASTERS / PHD)

What is driving biotic isolation along the Great Dividing Range?


This project will investigate the geomorphological, climatic and neotectonic factors driving biotic isolation along the Great Dividing Range in eastern Australia. This includes finding aggregate biogeographical patterns among plants and animals and comparing these against physical data using geo-spatial tools. Patterns will be tested against existing geomorphological and neotectonic hypotheses in order to determine the biotic evolution of eastern Australia.

Requirements: We seek a domestic science graduate with first class honours or Masters degree (or equivalent) in the biological and/or Earth sciences. Any training/qualification in geomorphology is a bonus, while biology only graduates will be required to do additional courses in Earth science.

Systematics

SEQUENCING SYNAPOMORPHIES: EXPLORING MOLECULAR HOMOLOGY (HONS / MASTERS)

Can different amounts of the same molecular data generate the same phylogenetic trees?

Students are expected to download molecular alignments from GenBank and run them using parsimony, three-item, maximum likelihood and phenetic programs (i.e., TNT, LisBeth, PAUP). Synapomorphies from the resulting trees will be compared to determine the informative characteristics that support molecular homology.

A background in systematics is a plus. Please note that BIOS3221 (assembling the Tree of Life) offers a large systematic component in Semester 2, 2014.

Requirements: Please see the UNSW requirements for Honours.


MOLECULAR CLOCKS AND THE FOSSIL RECORD (HONS / MASTERS)


Can we really tell the evolutionary time?

Molecular clocks and stratophenetics have been used over 40 years to estimate divergence times between organisms. This project will investigate five types of clocks, their origins and implementation. Students are expected to write a summary literature review as well as develop an equation for Fossil Record Exploration (FRE). The resulting FRE equation will be utilised to compare molecular clocks and stratophenetics equally in order to determine the viability and predictability of each method using both hypothetical and real examples.

A background in systematics is a plus. Please note that BIOS3221 (assembling the Tree of Life) offers a large systematic component in Semester 2, 2014.

Requirements: Please see the UNSW requirements for Honours.


History of Science

THE HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF CLADISTICS (PHD / MASTERS)

Why do we classify the world the way we do?


This project will investigate the history of cladistic theory from early 20th Century systematic morphology to the respective numerical and molecular revolutions of the 1970s and 1990s. The project will revise David Hull's history in context to both an internal history of systematic ideas and an external history of the development of the Modern Synthesis. A philosophy of cohesive social groups will also be investigated.

Requirements: We seek a domestic science/medicine graduate with first class honours or Masters degree (or equivalent) in the biological and/or palaeo sciences. Any training/qualification in history or philosophy is a bonus, while science only graduates will be required to do additional courses in histography and philosophy.

Scholarships: Applicants are encouraged to apply for an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) or similar.

If you are interested in applying in any of the above projects in the Ebach Lab, please contact Dr Malte C Ebach.