PhD Opportunity in Animal Cytogenetics

We are seeking at least one, but potentially several, PhD students with interests in molecular cytogenetics and genomics to develop diagnostic cytogenetic and molecular tools for comparative genomics and evolutionary studies in animals, particularly in sheep and reptiles.

 Project Description

Chromosome rearrangements play critical role in speciation. Major chromosome rearrangements are usually detectable via standard karyotypic analysis; however, cryptic (minor) rearrangements remain undetected, requiring development of species specific diagnostic tests, combining cytogenetics and molecular approaches. For example, subtelomeric sequences, which buffer gene rich chromosomal sequences from repetitive telomeric sequences have been used as diagnostic markers to detect cryptic chromosome rearrangements (e.g. translocations implicating infertility in farmed animals, such as pig, cattle). Subtelomeric sequences are also potentially useful for comparative genomics, evolutionary and ecological studies to better understand species’ evolution, speciation as well as population level variability at genome and chromosome level.

The project has two broad aims: (i) development of diagnostic cytogenetic and molecular tools to detect cryptic chromosome rearrangements impairing fertility in farmed animals (e.g. sheep); (ii) development of universal cytogenetic and molecular tools in reptiles (including avian) for comparative genomics and speciation analysis.

This is a collaborative PhD project between University of Canberra (UC), Australia and University of Kent (UoK), UK. The successful candidate will primarily be based at the University of Canberra, however, expected to spend upto an year at the University of Kent, UK. The successful candidate will be working with primary supervisors Prof Tariq Ezaz (University of Canberra) and Prof Darren Griffin (University of Kent). The successful candidate will also have the opportunity to work with the industry partners.

 The Ideal Candidate

The ideal candidate will possess experience in molecular cytogenetics (e.g. cell culture, chromosome preparation, fluorescence in situ hybridization), and genomics (e.g. genomic data mining, experience and familiarization with sequence analyses and NGS technology). Knowledge of chromosome biology and sex determination is desirable. The candidate will be self-motivated and well-organized, with a demonstrated capacity to learn and apply the broad skill set necessary for the successful completion of a research project. The successful candidate will be able to work alongside a wide variety of people in multi-function and multicultural laboratories. The successful candidate(s) will also have a strong commitment to excellence in research and scholarship.


Financial support for domestic and international students is expected to be available for a high achieving student through University of Canberra scholarship round (applications close 31 October 2017). These scholarships are highly competitive. To be competitive, candidates should have a first class honours degree or equivalent in a relevant area and other evidence of research potential (such as publications and relevant work experience). The scholarship and project is for three years. More information on the scholarships and admission process can be found at


The University of Canberra scholarships are open to all nationalities. However, overseas candidates for whom English is not a first language must secure an IELTS score of 6.5 and have no individual score falling below 6.0 to satisfy our English language requirements. More information can be found here

How to Apply

Interested applicants are encouraged to make informal enquiries to Professor Tariq Ezaz and Professor Darren Griffin by 30th August 2017. Please send your curriculum vitae, a sample of your written scientific work, and the names of two referees with a covering letter to:


Professor Tariq Ezaz                                                  Professor Darren Griffin

Email:                         Email: