Size patterns in Turing patterns: how to grow body segments

Study level


Master of Philosophy


Vacation research experience scheme

Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Dr Pascal Buenzli
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty

External supervisors

  • Associate Professor Alistair Evans, Monash University


Certain repeating elements of the body, such as teeth, fingers, limbs and vertebrae, follow the rule that the size of the middle element of a group of three is the average size of the three elements. This simple rule constrains how the relative sizes of segments develop in the embryo and evolve over long periods of time. The precise mechanisms that determine the number and size of repeating structures, such as fingers and teeth, remain largely unknown.

Research activities

You will develop mathematical and computational models to investigate possible biological mechanisms of sequentially patterned growth. These models will be based on reaction–diffusion problems on growing domains and generalisations of Turing-like patterning mechanisms.

This project is related to a recently awarded Australian Council Research Discovery Project DP180101797 (A New Universal Mechanism Controlling Body Proportions in Animals) and includes a PhD stipend topup. It will involve interdisciplinary collaboration with A/Prof. Alistair Evans, School of Biological Sciences, Monash University.


Development of a new class of morphogenetic Turing patterns that exhibit size patterns. Application of such models to segmental growth in collaboration with A/Prof. Alistair Evans (Monash).

Skills and experience

Prospective PhD candidates with applied mathematics background or equivalent and interest in developmental biology are strongly encouraged to apply. Parts of this project can be tailored to suit research students at Honours and Masters level. Some proficiency in differential equations and computer modelling is expected.

A PhD stipend top-up of $5,000 per year for 3 years is available for outstanding PhD candidates who will hold an APA or equivalent scholarship.


You may be able to apply for a research scholarship in our annual scholarship round.

Annual scholarship round



Contact the supervisor for more information.