These points try to give you an idea of my expectations as a supervisor and the flavour of working in the lab so that you know what you are getting yourself in for if you wish to join us!


Please read the lab publications and major research themes to find out what we are currently doing in the lab and what we are currently studying and publishing.


For prospective Masters and PhD students, if you would like to join the lab please send a CV and a 2 page proposal with what research questions you would like to answer and the hypotheses that you will be testing. These ideas should be aligned with the current strengths of the lab.


We work as a co-operative lab and help each other with particular procedures or practical work.  I like to be part of your research, and like other lab members to feel like we are a team working on a variety of interesting and integrated questions,  but you are expected to start thinking independently and develop your own ideas and theories on your research.


If you want to be left alone to do "your" project, then this is probably not the lab to do it in!


I make a set time every week to meet with lab members. As a lab we also have a regular discussion group which I expect all members of the lab to be actively involved in. Reading papers outside your specific field helps you develop as a researcher and can give you a wider perspective on how your research fits in to a wider context.


Work ethic


I expect you to work hard and to be professional and dedicated to your research project. Your project should be your major activity while you are in the lab and not something that you fit in around other commitments.


While working hours are somewhat flexible, laboratory and field work will often require your presence outside the usual 9am-5pm. You will need to be highly motivated to succeed in Honours, Masters or a PhD. We will invest significant time, effort and resources on your behalf and we want you to succeed.


Masters and PhD students should be determined from the outset to do work that will be noticed internationally ­this is essential for future funding opportunities. We also encourage you to apply for grants to support your research and submit papers as they are completed from your research in internationally recognized journals.


Publishing research


Students are always the primary or first authors of any work from their theses, provided you write it up within an agreed time frame. Most of the projects that are done in our lab require significant resources (be they theoretical, analytical, equipment or field-related) and so virtually all papers coming from our lab involve several authors. As a general rule we work on the "2/6 rule" when deciding who should be an author of a paper. If anyone makes a significant contribution to two of the following six steps then a joint authorship is warranted. The six steps are:


(1) initial idea; (2) obtaining funds, (3 provision of resources, (4) collecting data, (5) analysing data (6) writing & publishing the paper.


I expect students to be communicative and co-operative, to interact with members of the lab, other people in the school and to build networks with scientists in Australia and overseas.   This will help you obtain a job or a postdoc once you leave the lab.


I expect students to present their findings at appropriate scientific meetings and to communicate their findings to the wider community through media outlets as the opportunity arises.  Explaining what you do, why you do it, and why it should be funded to a range of people is one of the most important aspects of being a good scientists.


This list has been modified from Bill Foley and his lab at ANU


Some other useful links on PhD supervision and expectations


How to be a successful graduate student by John Thompson


Some Modest Advice for Graduate Students by Stephen C. Stearns


What makes a good PhD student? Nature 441, 252 (10 May 2006) | 10.1038/nj7090-252b


Scott Keogh's Resources and advice for students and postdocs (ANU Australia)




Insect Ecology Lab

Natural History Museum (W77)

University of New England

Armidale NSW 2031


61 (0)2 6773 2937