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STAY TUNED: Dowling Lab recruitment coming soon!

Due to the effects of the pandemic, we are limited in our ability to bring in new students at this time.


My fellowship is near completion, but I am happy to speak with prospective postgraduate students about opportunities within the Dowling Lab (with the possibility of co-supervision). See below for details on one project possibility, based on our most recent recruitment.

We seek a talented postgraduate student for a project assesessing the genotypic contributions of mitochondrial and nuclear genomes (and their interactions) to sex differences in organismal life history, from reproductive performance to longevity. This project will explore the functional consequences of mito-nuclear genetic variation, with a focus on testing an evolutionary hypothesis known as “Mother’s Curse"--i.e, that maternal inheritance of mitochondria has led to the accumulation of mutations within the mitochondrial DNA sequence that confer harm to males, but which are benign or beneficial in effect to females.

This project will integrate techniques and experimental designs drawn from evolutionary biology, ecology, genetics, and physiology. A key tool will be genetic strains of fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) in which different mitochondrial DNA haplotypes have been introgressed alongside a diverse set of nuclear DNA backgrounds. This system offers the invaluable opportunity to separate mitochondrial and nuclear genetic effects on organismal function, exploring the downstream consequences of mitochondrial variation on individual behaviors and physiology. There will be full flexibility for the successful applicants to pursue their own academic ideas and interests within the scope of their projects.

We are unable to accept applications at this time, but look forward to more information soon!

Positions are almost always available for lab volunteers, undergrad research projects, and honours projects!

Lab volunteers:
We are constantly looking for extra hands in the fly lab to help with ongoing maintenance of our genetic lines as well as carrying out experiments. Fruit fly studies inherently require a great deal of time in preparing food, sorting anesthetized flies (by sex, age, or phenotype), and moving flies into fresh homes. Lab volunteers can expect to work with me and/or Ph.D. students in the lab for at least two hours/week on a flexible schedule. Volunteering is a low-key opportunity to gain lab experience, and successful volunteers can potentially advance to paid RAships, summer/winter scholarships, or 3990/honours projects.

Undergraduate research:
Beyond the more casual research opportunities I can offer volunteers (and potentially summer/winter scholars), promising Monash University undergraduates have the opportunity to apply for a BIO3990 "Biology in action research project" in our lab. BIO3990 students engage in the full academic research process, from development to execution to write-up, in a structured and short-term setting. These small studies often build the foundation for future success in Honours degrees. I have several pocket-sized projects loosely planned for 3990 students, including:

TITLE: Do mismatching genomes impair fly climbing performance?
SYNOPSIS: Through 1-2 generations of controlled fly breeding, the student will create genetic lines of flies that differ in whether the mitochondrial genome they possess "matches" their nuclear genome. Mito-nuclear mismatch between species or subspecies has been proposed to impair physiological function, with important implications for species boundaries. Here, we will test how matched vs. mismatched flies perform on a negative geotaxis assay, using the apparatus developed in our lab.

Honours research:
The Dowling Lab welcomes enquiries from undergraduates interested in pursuing an honours degree with us. The genetic lines I have developed offer an exciting new resource for honours projects, and I am establishing several new experimental research platforms within the lab for physiological and behavioural assays. These projects are much more in-depth than BIO3990 projects, and are intended to lead to a dataset that can ultimately be published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

Contact me to learn more!