Research Opportunities in the Bergmann Lab

General Information and Application

Philip running lizards in Australia

I am always looking for enthusiastic, independent and committed students to work in my lab, including undergraduates, 5th year Master's Students, and PhD students. I encourage my students to make the research their own by pursuing avenues that they find interesting. Topics should relate in some way to my research interets, but need not be my exact interests. See below for some possible research projects that are "ready to go"!

I have advised more than 20 undergraduate students, and these mentorships have resulted in 5 peer-reviewed publications with my students as co-authors. Projects undertaken in my lab are geared towards publication in peer-reviewed journals, allowing students to be involved in all aspects of the process.

Students should have a firm understanding of basic biology, including evolution. Some experience with statistics and/or phylogenetics is an asset, but not neccessary to work in my lab. I aim to work closely with my students to give them guidance throughout the project, but the outcome depends on their committment to the research.

To apply, contact me by E-mail and please include the following:

  • Cover letter that includes a statement of why you are interested in working in the Bergmann lab and what kind of research you are most intersted in working on
  • CV or resume
  • Names and contact information (E-mail addresses) for two references

Projects That Are "Ready to Go"

Projects for PhD Students

Lizard Vertebrae

I expect doctoral students to develop their own research and believe that an important part of a PhD program is to teach the student how to generate novel hypotheses to test. Some topics that I would like to work on with Doctoral students are:
  • Ecology and niche use in reptiles or amphibians
  • The evolution and functional morphology of body elongation and limb reduction in lizards
  • Burrowing functional morphology in reptiles and amphibians
  • How multiple different tasks affect the evolution of phenotype

Projects for Undergraduate and MA Students

Lerista Skink
Phrynosoma mcallii
Elgaria multicarinata
Phrynosoma solare Skull
Rat Pup X-ray

Evolution of Lizard Limb Morphology
Lizards have evolved an incredible diversity of limb morphology and this morphology correlates with locomotor performance and kinematics. The goal is to quantify lizard limb diversity and gain an understanding of what morphologies have evolved and which ones have not and maybe cannot evolve. The project will involve work in natural history museums, measuring lizard limbs.

Diversification in Lizard Ecology
Lizards fill an incredible variety of niches, inhabiting most biomes and habitats within. This is a borad-scale study of what habitats the various extant species of lizards inhabit, and their diets. This project will be a major literature review, and ultimately the data gleaned from the literature will be placed in a database.

The effects of substrate on locomotion in lizards
How an animal moves is partly dependent on what it is moving on, which is an important link between functional morphology and ecology/niche use. There has not yet been a concerted effort to examine how different substrate characteristics influence locomotor performance and kinematics in terrestrial lizards. Such a project would involve working with live lizards and filiming and analyzing their locomotion using high-speed video.

Relationships between different locomotor modes in basilisk lizards
Basilisks are dynamic animals that run, climb, swim, jump, and run on water. They present an excellent opportunity to study how these different aspects of locomotion are related to one another and locomotion. This project is most appropriate for a student interest in an accelerated Master's degree.

Applied statistics and biology
Students with a strong background in mathematics and especially statistics that are interested in applying their skills to biology should contact Dr. Bergmann to discuss opportunities for doing this.

For more information about any of these projects, feel free to contact Philip Bergmann by E-mail.

© 2005-2013 Philip J. Bergmann | Updated 8.12.2013