[Taxacom] Graduate student opportunity in systematic entomology, Virginia Tech
brachoria at gmail.com
Mon Mar 11 22:21:51 CDT 2013
Graduate positions in systematic entomology at Virginia Tech
Join Dr. Paul Marek’s laboratory in the Department of Entomology at Virginia Tech studying bioluminescence, mimicry, and the discovery & description of planetary biodiversity.
Background - In the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, bioluminescent millipedes scatter upon the forest floor and on a moonless night “resemble a starry sky”. The most remarkable feature of these millipedes is their ability to glow at a wavelength of 495 nm. This is only one of two known instances of bioluminescence in the entire millipede class Diplopoda. Bioluminescence in millipedes is restricted to only eight species of the genus Motyxia, which are endemic to a very small area in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and Paraspirobolus lucifugus (a distantly related species in the order Spirobolida) from islands in the Pacific Ocean.
Our current research program aims to discover the evolutionary circumstances under which this unique adaptive innovation arose. The first part of the project consists of molecular phylogenetics as a foundation to address monophyly of the genus, and as a basis for new species descriptions. Did luminescence evolve multiple times, and under what circumstances? The second part of the project is a field test of luminescence and whether it functions as a nocturnal warning signal. Currently, we are using next generation transcriptome sequencing to understand the DNA-level differences between luminescent and closely related non-luminescent taxa.
For the spring semester 2014, we seek graduate students (PhD and masters) to collaborate in National Science Foundation supported research investigating the evolution of bioluminescence in millipedes. Opportunities are also available in taxonomy/systematics of millipedes and insects including, but not limited to, local Appalachian species. International applicants are welcomed. Laboratory facilities are available for molecular systematics, spectral measurements of bioluminescence, and morphology-based taxonomy. A vast insect collection is also available.
Please send a curriculum vitae and letter of interest to Dr. Paul Marek, paulemarek at gmail.com, by May 7, 2013. Visit our website for more details, www.apheloria.org and www.ento.vt.edu. Guidelines for applying to Virginia Tech’s Graduate School can be found at: graduateschool.vt.edu/admissions/applying/.
Blacksburg, VA was named by Outside magazine as one of the top 10 places to live in the country, and offers an abundance of outdoor activities including mountain biking, caving, rafting, and hiking - www.vt.edu/where_we_are/blacksburg.
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