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Evolution Education Trust PhD project: Local genes for local bacteria: Analysing the transmission dynamics of severe campylobacteriosis in Western Africa

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. For further information about the centre see

Supervisory Team:

Lead supervisor: Dr Ben Pascoe (Department of Biology & Biochemistry)
Internal co-supervisor: Prof Samuel Sheppard (Department of Biology & Biochemistry)
External supervisors: Prof Martin Antonio (MRC Unit, the Gambia @ the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine), Dr Isidore Bonkoungou (National Public Health Laboratory in Ougadougou, Burkina Faso), Prof Jukka Corander (University of Oslo)

Project Overview:

Diarrhoeal disease remains a major cause of child morbidity, growth faltering and mortality in low and middle income countries (LMICs), with Campylobacter among the most common causes. In developed countries, the primary route of infection is by consumption of contaminated meat products, but little is known about the risk factors, transmission routes and evolution of virulence in LMICs. We will sample and sequence thousands of Campylobacter isolates and develop machine-learning approaches to quantitative source attribution. Identification of strains, genes and individual nucleotides associated with different sources can be used to quantify the relative contribution of different reservoirs to human infection.


Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, a First Class or high Upper Second Class UK Honours degree (or the equivalent qualification gained outside the UK) in a relevant subject. A master’s level qualification would also be advantageous.


Informal enquiries should be directed to Ben Pascoe, .

Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form:

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 project, quote the projects in order of preference and upload a separate personal statement relevant to each one.

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

Interviews will take place in Bath on 14 June 2019.

Anticipated start date: 30 September 2019.

Funding Notes

This project is one of a number that are in competition for funding from the Evolution Education Trust View Website.

A studentship will provide UK/EU tuition fees, a stipend in line with the UKRI rate (£15,009 p.a. for 2019/20) and a generous budget for research and training as well as funds to support outreach activities for a period of up to 3.5 years.

Note: ONLY UK and EU applicants are eligible for studentship funding. International applicants will not be considered unless they can fully self-fund (fees and living costs).


Pascoe et al (2017) Local genes for local bacteria: evidence of allopatry in the genomes of transatlantic Campylobacter populations Molecular Ecology 26 (17): 4497-4508

Thépault et al (2017) Genome-wide identification of host-segregating epidemiological markers for source attribution in Campylobacter jejuni AEM 83 (7): e03085-16

Pascoe et al (2015) Enhanced biofilm formation and multi-host transmission evolve from divergent genetic backgrounds in Campylobacter jejuni. Environmental Microbiology 17:(11) 4779–4789

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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