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Research Associate (Biology)

Based at
University of York - Heslington Campus
Hours of work
Contract status
Fixed term
31,604 a year
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Role Description

Department and Project

You will join the team of the National Science Foundation project “Dynamic ant networks: How environmental constraints and ecological context shape resource transport systems”. This international team is led by Matina Donaldson-Matasci, Harvey Mudd College, USA, Scott Powell, George Washington University, USA, and Elva Robinson, University of York, UK. You will be based in the Department of Biology at the University of York under direct supervision of Elva Robinson, Senior Lecturer in Ecology.

The goal of the project is to develop a general theory for how environmental constraints and opportunities shape dynamic transport networks in biological systems. The project seeks to create a unifying modelling framework predicting how biological transport systems respond dynamically and adaptively to environmental pressures, balancing competing priorities such as cost, efficiency and robustness. This new model will be parameterised with existing data from Formica wood ants and newly collected data from Cephalotes turtle ants, and used to make broad testable predictions about the organisation of biological transport systems.


You will conduct research under the supervision of senior colleagues and to contribute to the production of research by developing the broad model, applying it to specific cases, generating predictions and comparing results with empirical data. The modelling will use a dynamic network approach; you will be expected to play a core role in developing the modelling framework. The candidate will have the opportunity to visit the Florida Keys field site to make direct observations of Cephalotes turtle ants and will work closely with a second research associate, who will focus on empirical data collection. You will also have the opportunity to mentor undergraduates based at Harvey Mudd College who are contributing to the project, and will be expected to contribute ideas for the empirical work in both laboratory and field. You will also collaborate in the preparation of reports and articles and represent the research group at conferences.

Skills, Experience & Qualification needed

You will have completed or be near completion of a PhD degree in an area of the biological, mathematical or computer sciences or related areas. The successful candidate will have experience of a range of quantitative research techniques and methodologies, including network analysis and modelling biological systems. Ideally, you will have experience in studying ecology and behaviour, in particular social animal systems. You will have the ability to work as part of a team and also to work independently using own initiative, and will have experience of presenting work at conferences and for publication.

This vacancy is on a full-time, fixed-term contract for up to 2 years. 

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