Date Posted
22 May 2024

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PhD Project
Macquarie University


22 May 2024

NOTE: this position listing has expired and may no longer be relevant!

Position Description

Are you interested in pursuing an exciting PhD project on a unique ant species, at a supportive, world-class institution in a beautiful part of the world?

I am looking for a highly motivated PhD student to participate in our project “Ant-inspired rules for self-assembly in swarm robotics and complex systems” at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. This is a fixed term-position for three years (at standard PhD stipend rate – $27,000 per year), funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC). Highly competitive international students have the chance to apply for an additional tuition fee waiver from Macquarie University.

Project description:
This Project aims to investigate self-assembly in weaver ants (Oecophylla smaragdina) – where individual workers join their bodies together using simple rules at the individual-level to build complex structures at the group-level. Using a state-of-the-art computer-vision tracking system, you will uncover the rules used by individual ants that lead to a range of functional self-assembled structures, by inducing colonies to form bridges, hanging chains and pulling chains in the laboratory and performing detailed behavioural analyses on the individual workers. The candidate will work with an international network of collaborators, including world experts in computer science, who will assist in building a modelling framework of analytical and simulation-based computer models derived from the ant behavioural rules. The models will be directly translated into novel swarm robotics control algorithms, which will be used to achieve two outcomes: i) testing whether the derived behavioural rules lead to successful self-assembly of the desired structure in a physical robot swarm, and; ii) upgrading robot swarms with ant-like capabilities of self-assembling into a variety of functional structures as needed, using a minimum of local information and no prior planning. The candidate will have the opportunity to test their findings on a brand new robot swarm purchased under this grant, and collaborate with world leaders in robotics.

Successful candidates will have a Masters degree or equivalent in biology or a related field (high-performing Honours graduates are also encouraged to apply), good knowledge/experience in invertebrate behaviour, and an interest in biological complex systems. Candidates with strong interest in robotics, agent-based modelling and/or programming are highly desirable, though this is not essential. The ideal candidate will have very good oral and written communication skills in English.

Dr Chris R. Reid
ARC DECRA Research Fellow, Department of Biological Sciences
Macquarie University, NSW 2109, Australia
e-mail: /
phone: +61 2 9850 6270

How to Apply

The position is currently open, so please contact Dr. Chris Reid as soon as possible, email: Applications should be a single pdf including a cover letter describing the motivation, previous research activities and current research interests, a CV with copies of BSc and MSc certificates, details of at least 2 referees and a list of publications if applicable.