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Masters in evolution of animal communication at Murray State University (KY)
Grad Positions
Posted Jan 6
The Beckers’ Lab at Murray State University accepts a Masters student who is interested in the evolution of animal communication starting in the fall of 2018.
Our lab uses Orthopterans (i.e., katydids, and crickets) as model organisms to address questions pertaining the evolution of animal behavior. More specifically, we study the effects of the environment (i.e., phenotypic plasticity) and parasitoids on mating songs and preferences for these songs. In our main study species, Neoconephalus triops, day length induces two substantially different mating songs. These differences in the songs are comparable to species differences within the genus. In a collaboration with two other labs in Missouri and West Virginia, we study the genetic underpinnings of this behavioral plasticity and how the involved genes relate to speciation. A second line of research focuses on the evolutionary arms race between katydid hosts and their eavesdropping parasites in the local population of N. triops. The flies use the katydid mating songs to find their hosts and deposit deadly larvae on them. Thus, sexual selection and natural selection act in opposing directions on male singing behavior. The evolutionary ramifications of this deadly parasitism on male singing and mate acquisition behavior are the focus of future studies. The Masters students could work on either of these projects or on other projects related to animal communication in katydids and crickets.

I seek driven, enthusiastic, and focused students to join our lab at Murray State University. Successful applicants have a B.S. in biology, ecology, or related discipline and are interested in studying animal behavior or communication and evolution. If you are interested in this opportunity and/or have any questions, please email Dr. Beckers at obeckers@murraystate.edu. For your application, make sure to address in an attached document your research interests and motivation, how they relate to the Beckers’ lab research, your future professional goals, and your GPA.

Review of applications starts immediately. Deadline for applications is February 14, 2018 to be considered for a TAship for the fall semester. Once you indicated interest in the position, an interview will be set up shortly after.
 
Please find more information on Dr. Beckers’ research here:
https://www.murraystate.edu/academics/CollegesDepartments/CollegeOfScienceEngineeringandTechnology/CollegeOfSciencePrograms/biologyDept/faculty/oliver-beckers/index.aspx
 
Information on the Department of Biological Sciences at MSU:
https://www.murraystate.edu/academics/CollegesDepartments/CollegeOfScienceEngineeringandTechnology/CollegeOfSciencePrograms/biologyDept/faculty/