PhD Scholarship to study collective behaviour in weaver ants (in particular how they build their ultra-cool and totally unstudied silk nests), and develop bioinspired 3Dprinting swarmrobotics:

Description: Construction and manufacturing can be dangerous, wasteful industries —prime candidates for automation by teams of mobile robot builders. However, our understanding of how to program robots for teamwork is limited. This project aims to understand how colonies of weaver ants build complex silk nest structures using decentralised, self-organised processes. The first phase will utilise individual tracking techniques to follow worker positions, coupled with frequent 3D-scanning of the emerging nest structure, to characterise the individual-level behaviours and interaction rules used at each stage of construction.

This data will be used to assemble a theoretical framework, validated by simulation modelling and robophysical tools, that explicitly links individual-level behaviour to team-based coordination and stage transitions, and finally emergent structural outcomes. This framework will be transformational in our understanding of a range of other complex systems in nature and engineering.

Insights from the biology and modelling phases of the project will be combined to deliver the first generation of bio-inspired robots that use teamwork to adaptively 3D-print complex structures without the need for oversight or pre-planning. The investigation spans concepts of behavioural ecology, computational science and robotic engineering, and candidates with experience in one or more of these fields will be desirable.


This scholarship is available to eligible candidates to undertake a direct entry 3-year PhD program.

Scholarship Components

The scholarship is comprised of a Tuition Fee Scholarship and a Living Allowance Stipend. The value and tenure of the scholarship is a “iMQRES” full-time stipend rate of $32,000 per annum (fixed rate) for up to 3 years.

Contact Details

Name: Dr Chris R Reid
Phone: 98506270


– New applicants to Macquarie University

– Current applicants with a successful candidature offer less than 6 months old and currently enrolled Macquarie University candidates:

Further information can be found on the How to Apply page.

To be eligible for a scholarship, applicants are expected to have a record of excellent academic performance and preferably, additional relevant research experience and/or peer-reviewed research activity in line with the University’s scholarship rating guidelines. Refer to the Rating Scholarship Applicants section for more information about these guidelines.

Macquarie University will advise the successful applicant of entitlements at the time of scholarship offer.

Please quote the reference number on your application.


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