Networks Unit
IMT School
for Advanced Studies
Lucca (Italy)


andrea.perna at

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Join us

The IMT School for Advanced Studies is a PhD training school which offers multiple bursary PhD positions every year (application deadline typically in June). The positions are open to national and international students. The most directly relevant PhD track is the one in "Complex Systems and Networks". If you are thinking of applying and you would like to discuss your application with me, please send me an email. Please note that this PhD track is particularly suitable for candidates with a quantitative background in physics, mathematics and biology interested in data analysis and modelling related to complex systems (including ecology). A PhD project entirely based on wet lab research or field observations is unlikely to be successful.

Research topics and opportunities

Linking individual behaviour to the organisation of microscopic ecological communities

PhD project

The organisation of ecological communities ultimately depends on how individuals of different species interact. The general focus of this project is in trying to relate directly individual behaviour and ecosystem properties through models and experiments on microscopic artificial ecosystems.

Modelling the ecological implications of collective animal behaviour

Master project

Collective behaviour can affect the survival of group-living animals, but its impact on the organisation of ecological patterns is less clear as these are mainly determined by energy availability at a given trophic level. You will study simulation models of flocking to understanding how different forms of collective behaviour affect biological patterns.

Flight of raptors

Master project

Hawks and falcons are pursuit predators that actively chase their prey at high speed. In this project you will quantify the manoeuvrability of flying raptors as they chase a lure. The experimental part of the project takes place at the Hawk Conservancy Trust in Andover.

Scaling microscopic aquatic locomotion

Master project

Animal and plant diversity often exhibits well-recognisable patterns depending on body size, environmental temperature and other factors. Less is known about the factors affecting the variability of microscopic organisms (e.g. protists). In this project you will study variability of protists with a focus on their mechanisms of movement.

Morphogenesis of termite nests


We have funding for a 2.5 years post-doctoral position on the "evo-devo" of Australian termite nests, with Stéphane Douady, Nathan Lo and myself, for 2.5 years starting around December 2021. Ideal applicant has some quantitative data analysis or modelling skills. Involves some fieldwork in Australia. Please get in touch!

Ecology, Animal Behaviour


Faculty positions are normally advertised here.