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Behavioural and molecular analysis of pheromone-based sexual signalling in Pristionchus nematodes, [Biosciences] – PhD (Funded)


   Department of Biosciences

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  Dr C Weadick  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Location:

Biosciences, Streatham Campus, Exeter

The University of Exeter’s Faculty of Health and Life Sciences is inviting applications for a PhD studentship fully funded by the Royal Society and the University to commence January 2023 or as soon as possible thereafter. For eligible students the studentship will cover Home tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £18,150 for 4 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study. The student would be based in Biosciences in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at the Streatham Campus in Exeter.

Project Description:

The ability to communicate and receive information is key to evolutionary fitness and individual health. By deciphering the methods animals use to share and obtain information with others, it becomes possible to address major evolutionary and ecological questions: How do animals share information with one another? How do animal communication systems change over time? How sensitive are these systems to individual state, social context, and environmental conditions? And can these systems be manipulated in environmentally or economically beneficial ways? 

This PhD studentship will address these questions through comparative analysis of sex pheromones in Pristionchus roundworms. These lab tractable roundworms have recently emerged as a powerful system for exploring the biochemistry, genetics, and evolution of pheromone signalling (see https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.55687). However, much remains unknown about the role sexual communication plays in this system. This PhD studentship will address this important gap in our knowledge. 

The project will involve (1) exploring the ways social and environmental context affect sex pheromone production, and (2) evaluating how individuals respond to specific pheromone compounds at both behavioural and molecular levels. Combined, these experiments will shed light on the molecular language of sexual communication, and through this work the student will gain experience in a wide variety of techniques, including behavioural analysis, molecular biology, biochemistry, and bioinformatics. The student will also have opportunities to develop their scientific communication and outreach skills.

The successful applicant will have a passion for studying the why? and how? of animal behaviour. Ideally, the student will have a keen interest in (1) working with simple invertebrates at the microscope, (2) applying molecular protocols, and (3) analysis of complex datasets. Prior experience on each of these points is desirable but not required — training will be provided. 

Further details are available upon request ([Email Address Removed]) — please reach out if interested!

This award provides annual funding to cover Home tuition fees and a tax-free stipend. For students who pay Home tuition fees the award will cover the tuition fees in full, plus at least £18,150 per year tax-free stipend. Students who pay international tuition fees are eligible to apply, but should note that the award will only provide payment for part of the international tuition fee and no stipend. 

International applicants need to be aware that you will have to cover the cost of your student visa, healthcare surcharge and other costs of moving to the UK to do a PhD. The conditions for eligibility of home fees status are complex and you will need to seek advice if you have moved to or from the UK (or Republic of Ireland) within the past 3 years or have applied for settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

Entry requirements

Applicants for this studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an appropriate area of science or technology. 

If English is not your first language you will need to meet the required level (Profile B) as per our guidance at https://www.exeter.ac.uk/pg-research/apply/english/

How to apply

In the application process you will be asked to upload several documents. 

• CV

• Letter of application (outlining your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to undertake the project).

• Transcript(s) giving full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained (this should be an interim transcript if you are still studying)

• Two references from referees familiar with your academic work. If your referees prefer, they can email the reference direct to [Email Address Removed] quoting the studentship reference number.

• If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your proficiency in English.

The closing date for applications is midnight on Friday 28th October 2022

Interviews will be held virtually in the week commencing November 7th (subject to change).

If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email [Email Address Removed] or phone 0300 555 60 60 (UK callers) +44 (0) 1392 723044 (EU/International callers)  

Project-specific queries should be directed to the main supervisor.

For further information and to submit an application please visit - https://www.exeter.ac.uk/study/funding/award/?id=4547


Funding Notes

This award provides annual funding to cover Home tuition fees and a tax-free stipend. For students who pay Home tuition fees the award will cover the tuition fees in full, plus at least £18,150 per year tax-free stipend. Students who pay international tuition fees are eligible to apply, but should note that the award will only provide payment for part of the international tuition fee and no stipend.
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