Current opportunities

I currently have two opportunities available in my lab.

1) Research position

Movement ecology and social networks in sheep

Start: as soon as possible
Applications (and any initial enquiries) should be emailed to

Research project.

I am seeking a postgraduate researcher for six months (approx.). A post-graduate degree is preferred, but an Honours degree plus substantial R coding experience will also be considered. If you have a higher degree and are interested in the project feel free to email me to discuss further.

The research project will investigate different aspects of sheep spatial and social behaviour, based on detailed GPS data. The data has already been collected and the researcher will focus on analysis and writing. This is a great opportunity to boost your publication record. Good analytical and R coding skills are essential. Previous work with spatial data and social networks is desirable.

Given the current international travel restrictions, unfortunately, this opportunity is only for a person already residing in Australia. The University is not able to pay someone living outside Australia. If you are living interstate, I am happy to discuss working remotely.

Application process
Applicants should email their application to, clearly identifying that their application it is for the research position. Please include in your application 1) a brief statement (max. 500 words) of your research experience, in particular your analytical and R coding skills and the project you used them for, 2) your CV, as well as contact details of two academic referees. Applications should be emailed as a single PDF file.

2) PhD position in Behavioural Ecology

The inter-relationship between decision making and social group structure

Flexible start: late 2020 to early 2021
Major Scholarship round for domestic students at the University of Adelaide.
Application for the below position (and any initial enquiries) should be emailed to

Research group
I am seeking a domestic PhD student to join my research group at the University of Adelaide. In my group we investigate the drivers of Animal Social Behaviour and its evolutionary consequences. We work on fundamental questions about the emergence and maintenance of spatial and social structure in animal populations and the resulting health and fitness consequences. The current focus of the research group is on social mammals, including sheep and alpaca, as they are particularly amenable to experimental projects. In addition, we also work on reptiles.

Research project
I am seeking a highly motivated PhD candidate, who is enthusiastic about fundamental science; and who is interested in social behaviour of sheep. The broad project aim is to investigate the inter-relationship between decision making, for instance about resource use, and the social structure of the group. The scope of the project is purposely broad, and will allow the candidate to develop and contribute their own research questions. The project will use tools from social network theory and spatial ecology and require good analytical skills. We have another PhD student who will soon join the lab to work on other aspects of sheep social behaviour. This will further create synergies.

One of our field sites is in in the harsh environment of the rangelands of northern New South Wales, where paddocks are large, sheep are free ranging and rarely handled or managed. In these environments, although domesticated, sheep face similar challenges as wild animals including finding patchily distributed food, finding water, shelter and mates. We have established a great study system and can continuously track all individuals of large groups of sheep using GPS collars. Alternative field sites, for instance to compare between habitat types, exist in South Australia.

You (the PhD candidate)
A keen interest in data analysis and writing code in R is fundamental. It is not essential that you have those programming skills already, but you need to be willing develop them. A natural curiosity about animal behaviour and biology is important, too. The current scholarship round is for domestic students only. Unfortunately, if you are from outside Australia, you will not be eligible for this particular scholarship. If you have other scholarship opportunities in your home country, feel free to email me to discuss this further.

Adelaide is an exciting city. It lies in-between the ocean and the Adelaide Hills, and invites to explore the beaches and countryside. The School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences of the University of Adelaide is situated on the beautiful Roseworthy campus close to the famous Barossa Valley. The School provides a vibrant research environment, and offers excellent support to postgraduate students.

Application process
Applicants should have a First-class Honours degree or research MSc in a relevant discipline. Students who have already published a paper, will be more competitive. Good analytical skills, or the willingness to develop them, is fundamental. Research experience in animal social behaviour is desirable.

If you are interested to join my research group, please apply with 1) a brief statement (max. 500 words) of your research experience and your reasons for applying, 2) your CV, including contact details of two academic referees. Applications should be emailed as a single PDF file.

In a second step, and supported by me, you will then apply for a scholarship from the Adelaide University. The deadline for the scholarship round is the 31st October 2020. The 2020 stipend value for full-time domestic students is $28,092 p.a. tax-exempt for 3 years (indexed annually).

Main supervisor
Stephan Leu, School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, The University of Adelaide, Australia.

Animal social behaviour, social networks, GPS, animal tracking, animal movement, outback Australia, sheep