¨  The Theoretical Biology and Ecology Ph.D. Program

ˇ  Prior studies and degrees needed

For a successful participation in this program, M.Sc. degree is a requirement. Prior to the candidacy examination, the student must submit a satisfactory research proposal that will lead to production of a dissertation of publishable quality based on original advanced research and interpretation. The subject matter of the proposal must coincide with the objectives of one of the running projects detailed below. Earlier publication(s) of relevant paper(s) by the candidate may greatly increase the chance of acceptance.

ˇ  Features of the program

§  Currently available projects  Teachers and researchers involved in this PhD program are responsible for different research projects, with financial support coming from different temporary sources. Therefore, the list of currently available projects is always subject to change. 
 Spatial strategies in plants: mathematical models and computer simulations:
We study some key strategies in the exploration and exploitation of spatially distributed ecological resources. The first group of questions is related to the adaptive geometry of growth. The second concerns communication and cooperation between parts of the plant body. The evolution and ecology of clonal growth will receive special emphasis. Applicants are required to have firm background in population dynamic modeling and computer programming.


Studies in the multivariate analysis of ecological data:

Development or refinement of dissimilarity coefficients, ordination and classification methods. Applications to the analysis of ecological communities. Comparison of results, with extensive use of randomization tests. Sampling theory, with emphasis on pattern recognition objectives at the community level.


Ecophysiology of grasses:

Physiological and associated morphological responses of grasses (Poaceae) to abiotic stresses (drought, heat, and low or high light) in semiarid temperate grasslands. Special focus is on C4 photosynthesis, phenotypic plasticity and acclimation.


Ecology of seed banks:

Seeds and seed banks play a key role in spatial and temporal dispersal of species, and have a major influence on the composition and regeneration of plant communities. The aim of this project is to provide an introduction to current thinking in seed bank ecology as it relates to general and specific rules of vegetation ecology.


Theoretical problems of prebiotic evolution:

We have developed a plausible model framework of prebiotic replicator evolution on mineral surfaces based on a prototype simulation model by Czárán and Szathmáry (2000). The model assumes that the replicators are ribozymes that contribute to a primitive metabolism producing monomers for their own replication. The applicant is assumed to have a fair understanding of biological-biochemical processes and experience in computer programming (C or Fortran languages are preferred). Skills in higher mathematics (manipulating differential equations) are welcome.


Evolution of mutualism:
Game theoretical and population dynamical models for studying the evolutionary origin and stability of mutualism. In addition to biology, knowledge of mathematics and computer science is assumed.
Population dynamics in moving fluids:
Modeling population dynamics (competition, predator-prey interactions, etc.) in flows with chaotic mixing or turbulence. In addition to biology, knowledge of mathematics, physics and computer science is assumed.




ˇ          Program head:

János Podani, Ph.D.  professor

ˇ          Program coordinator to be contacted:

János Podani Ph.D.  professor