Join the Lab 2017-05-05T07:59:01+00:00

Postgraduate Opportunities

We do interdisciplinary research including global climate change, physiological responses to environmental conditions, mechanisms underlying environmental tolerance, and principles and applications of insect physiology to broader issues (e.g. conservation, pest management).

Highly motivated students interested in undertaking postgraduate research degrees should email me to discuss available projects and funding opportunities. A few projects are available which span a range of disciplines and involve varying levels of field and lab-work.

There are also opportunities for undergraduates to gain working research experience and interested students should contact me directly.

Intellect, an interest in acquiring new skills, independence and creativity are key characteristics I seek in potential students. Broad interests, someone who likes a challenge, an open mind, and the ability or willingness to synthesize different research areas are all useful for a post-graduate degree in my lab.

Key research areas:

  • Cellular physiology and stress responses
  • Physiological plasticity in insects
  • Thermal tolerance of insects
  • Water balance of insects
  • Energy metabolism and gas exchange patterns of insects and modelling
  • Biophysical modelling of population dynamics
  • Invasion biology
  • Evolutionary and ecological physiology of insects
  • Integrated and area-wide pest management

Current bursaries available for post-graduate research (MSc or PhD-level)

Linking flight performance and dispersal ability of insects:

Two fully-funded research projects (either PhD or MSc level studies) are available immediately for post-graduate students interested in studying invasion dynamics, dispersal, flight performance, evolutionary ecology and the environmental physiology of insects. The work seeks to better understand traits of dispersal in lab and field conditions and how these translate into recapture rates and relative population abundances.

Students will be trained in various skills including but not limited to insect population dynamics, functional trait performance assessments, experimental physiology, and population genetics.

These projects will be run and hosted between the Centre for Invasion Biology (CIB)South African Sugar Research Institute (SASRI), and the Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology at Stellenbosch University, South Africa.

Project 1: Predicting flight performance using functional traits, assessing the upper limits to adaptive capacity for dispersal in pest Lepidoptera, factors influencing relative and absolute recapture rates (e.g. trap design) for pest management and invasion dynamics (co-PI: Prof. Des Conlong [SU and SASRI])

Project 2: Population genetics, kinship analysis and host utilisation for inferring fine-scale pest Lepidoptera dispersal in agroecosystems (co-PI: Dr Minette Karsten [SU])

How to Apply:

Applicants should send full academic CV and a strong motivation cover letter with names of three academic referee’s who can be contacted to provide comprehensive background for the applicant’s research abilities to Prof. John S. Terblanche (e-mail: A clear statement of research interests is required. Excellent written and oral language skills are essential. Preference for statistical expertise in SAS, R, or an GIS-environments will be useful, but are not a requirement. Prior genetics experience is useful but not essential.

Who can Apply: 

South African citizens will be given preference during the selection process, but excellent international candidates will also be considered.


Bursaries will be available at highly competitive rates by South African standards and typically also cover study fees. Applicants will need to meet the entry requirements and criteria for post-graduate registration set by Stellenbosch University for a given study level.

Closing Date for Applications:

Posts will remain open until suitable candidates are found. Please email to inquire –

Recent publications on these themes from the group:

Steyn,V.M., Mitchell, K.A., Terblanche, J.S. 2016. Dispersal propensity, but not flight performance, explains variation in dispersal behaviour. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B, 283: 20160905. Doi:10.1098/rspb.2016.0905.

Karsten, M., Addison, P., Jansen van Vuuren, B., Terblanche, J.S. 2016. Investigating population differentiation in a major African agricultural pest insect: evidence from geometric morphometrics and connectivity suggests high invasion potential. Molecular Ecology 25: 3019-3032. Doi:10.1111/mec.13646.

View all the publications of the group here.

Other Research Opportunities

Two projects at the  Department of Zoology – University of Cambridge

  1. Mother knows best: maternal effects on climate change adaptation in a disease vector – Read more here

  2. You are what your mother ate: how maternal nutrition impacts offspring health – Read more here