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Evolution Education Trust PhD project - Alternative medicine practices of insects: feeding behaviour of infected insects and best practice in science festivals and outreach events

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Wednesday, February 05, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The University of Bath is inviting applications for this PhD opportunity based at the Milner Centre for Evolution, a unique, cross-faculty research centre bridging biology, health and education. The Centre is dedicated to a broad range of fundamental research questions relating to evolutionary biology; from in deep time to the micro-evolutionary dynamics of a disease outbreak. We have a strong focus on public engagement and outreach. We are located in a dedicated multi-million-pound building that opened on the University campus in September 2018. Visit our website:

Supervisory Team:

Dr Nicholas Priest, Milner Centre for Evolution, Department of Biology & Biochemistry (lead supervisor)
Dr Daniel Henk,
Dr Tiffany Taylor,

Project Overview:

A research-embedded public engagement PhD focused on feeding behaviour of infected insects and testing best practice in science festivals and outreach events.

Despite rapid development of novel methodologies for disseminating scientific information, we are falling behind in our ability to communicate important information to the public. Studies show that public engagement is best when the researchers communicating the science are also the ones carrying it out. Science, as a field, is increasingly perceived as failing to give practical solutions to important problems such as climate change and biodiversity. To counteract public distrust of science there is an urgent need for public engagement which encourages community-led projects based on public interest.

The goal of this PhD is to combine basic biological research on the alternative medical practices of insects with social science research on how to best conduct public engagement on global insect declines.

A collaborative project between the Priest and Henk labs of the Milner Centre for Evolution recently revealed that female fruit flies consume yeast-derived alcohols in order to fight sexually transmitted infections. The insect research component of the studentship will involve studies of 1) the selective forces underlying yeast/fly symbiosis, 2) the genetic basis of non-immunological responses to infection, and 3) the reproductive physiology underlying alcohol drinking in females with STIs. The social research component will focus on running citizen science public engagement events at national science festivals in conjunction with the development of quantitative approaches towards testing the effectiveness of that engagement. In conjunction with training in social media and marketing, there will also be opportunity to develop a related “Evolution Garden” project with potential for global impact.


Applicants should have an excellent academic record and hold, or expect to obtain, a First Class or high Upper Second Class UK Honours degree (or the equivalent) in a relevant subject. A master’s level qualification would also be advantageous.

Enquiries and Applications:

All enquiries should be addressed to Dr Nicholas Priest, .

** Candidates are strongly encouraged to discuss projects directly with the lead supervisor before submitting an application.**

Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Biology:

On the application form, please ensure that you quote ‘Evolution Education Trust’ in the Finance section and the supervisor’s name and project title in the ‘Your research interests’ section. Should you wish to be considered for more than one project, quote the projects in order of preference and upload a separate personal statement relevant to each one.

It is essential that your application is complete when you submit it to us. Incomplete applications cannot be considered. You should ensure that you have completed all fields on the application form and supplied the contact details of TWO referees who are available and willing to provide us with a reference when requested (one must be from your most recent place of study). In addition, you should ensure that you have uploaded the following documents:
• a scanned copy of the certificate/s for any degree/s you have been awarded;
• a scanned copy of your degree transcript/s or your interim transcript if you are still studying;
• an up-to-date CV;
• a personal statement explaining your motivation for wishing to study a PhD and your interest in the specific project for which you are applying;
• English language test certificate (if available) for EU candidates.

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found here:

Interviews will take place in Bath on Friday 3 April 2020.

Anticipated start date: 28 September 2020.

Unfortunately, we are NOT able to consider international applicants for this project.

Funding Notes

Candidates applying for this project will be considered for a 3.5-year Evolution Education Trust Studentship which will cover UK/EU tuition fees, a tax-free maintenance allowance at the UKRI Doctoral Stipend rate (£15,009 for 2019/20) and a generous budget for research, training and outreach expenses.

Note: Only UK and EU applicants are eligible for studentship funding.

How good is research at University of Bath in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 24.50

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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