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Ecology of Insect Pests of Stored Products and Museums

   Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

   Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

People store many different products for a variety of purposes. Stored products include food, wood, clothing and also items in museums stored for posterity. Stored biological materials represent huge food resources which can be attacked by a variety of different types of insects, but mostly beetles and moths. These insects have the potential to cause substantial damage resulting in loss of life (through starvation), financial losses and loss of artefacts of historical and cultural significance. Despite the fact that many of these insects have been with us for centuries it is remarkable how little we know about the ecology of most of these species.

A major project is ongoing at the University of Reading to better understand the features of these species that make them so damaging and how this knowledge might be better deployed to manage populations of insect populations of stored products. Most of the research is carried out under laboratory conditions although some species move between the store (or museum) and the field, and studying the behaviour and ecology of these more mobile species poses particular challenges.

As well as ecological and behavioural work we are deploying molecular techniques to investigate differentiation of geographical populations at the genetic level. There are a large number of species that could be integrated into the current research project but we are currently focussing on Curculionidae, Tenebrionidae, Bruchidae, Bostrichidae, Silvaniidae, Dermestidae, Tineidae among others. Opportunities for research into this type of applied entomology are extremely limited largely because universities and other research organisations tend not to hold stocks of stored product insects anymore. At Reading we hold probably the largest and one of the last remaining collections of stored product insect species in the country in dedicated constant temperature and humidity facilities. Without these resources the research project described above would not be possible.

School of Biological Sciences, University of Reading:

The University of Reading, located west of London, England, provides world-class research education programs. The University’s main Whiteknights Campus is set in 130 hectares of beautiful parkland, a 30-minute train ride to central London and 40 minutes from London Heathrow airport.

Our School of Biological Sciences conducts high-impact research, tackling current global challenges faced by society and the planet. Our research ranges from understanding and improving human health and combating disease, through to understanding evolutionary processes and uncovering new ways to protect the natural world. In 2020, we moved into a stunning new ~£60 million Health & Life Sciences building. This state-of-the-art facility is purpose-built for science research and teaching. It houses the Cole Museum of Zoology, a café and social spaces.

In the School of Biological Sciences, you will be joining a vibrant community of ~180 PhD students representing ~40 nationalities. Our students publish in high-impact journals, present at international conferences, and organise a range of exciting outreach and public engagement activities.

During your PhD at the University of Reading, you will expand your research knowledge and skills, receiving supervision in one-to-one and small group sessions. You will have access to cutting-edge technology and learn the latest research techniques. We also provide dedicated training in important transferable skills that will support your career aspirations. If English is not your first language, the University's excellent International Study and Language Institute will help you develop your academic English skills.

The University of Reading is a welcoming community for people of all faiths and cultures. We are committed to a healthy work-life balance and will work to ensure that you are supported personally and academically.


Applicants should have a good degree (minimum of a UK Upper Second (2:1) undergraduate degree or equivalent) in Biological Sciences or a strongly-related discipline. Applicants will also need to meet the University’s English Language requirements. We offer pre-sessional courses that can help with meeting these requirements.

How to apply:

Submit an application for a PhD in Biological Sciences at http://www.reading.ac.uk/pgapply

Further information: http://www.reading.ac.uk/biologicalsciences/SchoolofBiologicalSciences/PhD/sbs-phd.aspx

Please view Dr Graham Holloway's academic profile: http://www.reading.ac.uk/biologicalsciences/SchoolofBiologicalSciences/Meetourteam/staff/g-j-holloway.aspx

Funding Notes

Please note that there are no studentships being offered for this research area by the University of Reading.

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