We have opportunities for diverse multidisciplinary research projects that are suitable for:

Initially please reach out informally via e-mail if you want to discuss a prospective  project. Please include a CV and a description of your interests specifically outlining how do they align with our work. 

Please note that Prof Wlodkowic has no control over the formal admissions process and all PhD and Masters candidates must apply via a competitive intake processs at the RMIT School of Graduate Research. 

Information on how to apply to the RMIT School of Graduate Research can be found here: 

To apply for the Expression of Interest (EOI) at RMIT University, please follow the below steps:

Go to 

Type Prof Donald Wlodkowic in the search box

Select one of listed project that are currently available

Apply online

Should your EOI be successful you will be invited to lodge a full application and at the same time be able to apply for any relevant scholarships that may be available at that time.


Memory & Learning Behaviours in Simple Lifeforms

One of the most distinctive features of lifeforms is their remarkable ability to express preferences and acquire knowledge from past experiences, enabling them to adapt to new circumstances. Despite this, our understanding of the intricate biological computations underlying behavioural cognition remains significantly limited, especially in simple lifeforms. In this project you will explore memory and learning in planarian flatworms and insects. Unravelling the mechanisms by which simple nervous systems, with limited biocomputational capacity, facilitate memory formation is crucial for advancing applied fields like neuropharmacology and predictive neurotoxicology. 

Unlocking the Secrets of Smart Drugs

Nootropics, also known as cognitive enhancers or smart drugs, have been touted for their potential to boost mental performance in healthy individuals, with claims of improved memory, motivation, and attention span. But what happens when these substances end up in our waterways and affect aquatic life? Using state-of-the-art behavioural techniques such as quantitative computer-based animal tracking and automated testing systems, you will uncover the behavioural changes that occur in non-target species when exposed to nootropics.

How Pollution Shapes Aquatic Animals' Thermal Preferences

Thermotaxis encompasses temperature sensing and neuronal data processing, crucial for the dynamic thermal adaptations of aquatic animals. This project focuses on the largely unexplored toxicological dimension: how pollutants may disrupt thermal preference behaviors in aquatic organisms.  Understanding such perturbations is vital for the ecological survival of numerous species. Using state-of-the-art techniques including quantitative computer animal tracking, we will undertake a pioneering multi-species screening of thermotactic responses in aquatic animals, from native Australian invertebrates to fish. 

Unravelling the Impact of Contaminants on the Phototactic Responses

Phototactic behaviours are vital for the survival of many species of zooplankton invertebrates, fish, and amphibians. Despite the prevalence of phototactic traits in aquatic animals, very little is currently known about how anthropogenic contaminants affect these behaviors. As part of this pioneering research project, you'll have the opportunity to explore the impacts of emerging contaminants such as neuroactive pharmaceuticals on the phototactic responses of a variety of aquatic species.