Opportunities

We are looking for highly motivated students (at the undergraduate and graduate level) who are interested in doing research in functional anatomy and evolution in non-human primates, modern humans and our past ancestors. We have a range of available projects, but if you would like to do a research project based on your idea we will be happy to discuss this with you. If you are interested in joining the Palaeodiet Research Lab please contact Dr. Luca Fiorenza (luca.fiorenza@monash.edu), and send a copy of your CV together with your academic transcript.

PhD Scholarship at Monash

Postgraduate research scholarships are offered to both domestic and international applicants to undertake a higher degree by research at one of Monash University’s Australian campuses.

Full details are available at Monash Graduate Research Service.

Honours Projects

The Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology runs a Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Biomedical Science and Bachelor of Medical Sciences Honours year program. Students who have completed their Honours projects in this Department have had very successful career outcomes. Most have gained employment, continued on to complete their PhD or enrolled into postgraduate Medicine or allied Medical courses.

For 2017 the Palaeodiet research Lab offers two Honours projects:

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1. DENTAL WEAR DEVELOPMENT IN CHILDREN

Background: Dental wear is a natural and inevitable process consisting in the gradual loss of the enamel layer. Different mechanisms, such as erosion, attrition and abrasion are involved in the creation of tooth wear. However, it is still not clearly understood how wear patterns form and develop.

Project aim/s: For this project we will use digital models of dental casts taken from Aboriginal children of the Yuendumu Reserve (Northern Territory), who were annually observed between 1951 and 1971. Thus we will have the possibility to give a clear insight on wear development variation between individuals and within the same person over time. Moreover, because the Aboriginal people from Yuendumu were at an early stage of transition from a nomadic and hunter-gatherer way of life to a more settled existence, we can further examine the relationship between craniofacial structures and occlusal loading in normal and altered (e.g. misalignment of teeth) masticatory systems.

Techniques to be utilised: The project will use a well-established method called Occlusal Fingerprint Analysis (OFA), which describes the major jaw movements in a 3D space. The methods may have potential applications in medicine and orthodontics.

2. FUNCTIONAL MORPHOLOGY OF PRIMATE TEETH

Background: Primates feed on different food sources and this difference can be reflected in the size and shape of their teeth. However, while the shape of unworn teeth can suggest what a tooth is capable of processing, tooth wear can tell us how a tooth was actually used.

Project aim/s: The focus of this study will be on the relationship between tooth morphology, dental wear and mastication in primates with different ecological adaptations. This project will be based on a novel approach that uses advanced 3D digital modeling of primate teeth and it will help to better understand the relationship between jaw movements, wear and food physical properties. The results will be later on used as model for understanding ecological and evolutionary adaptations of our closest African ancestors.

Techniques to be utilised: The project will be based on advanced digital techniques that use 3D medical and engineering imaging software that could be potentially used in orthodontics and biology.

To be eligible to undertake Honours, students must have a distinction level average in at least 24 points (or equivalent) of level-three studies in ANY RELEVANT SCIENCE DISCIPLINE (Biochemistry, Microbiology, Anatomy and Developmental Biology, Immunology, Human pathology, Microbiology, Pharmacology and Physiology. Students with other majors (e.g. Genetics) may also be eligible.

To apply to undertake an Honours year, students should use the Faculty of Science application form or the Biomedical Sciences application form. More information here.

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