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Evolution Education Trust PhD project - Microbiome protection: An evolution education PhD involving public engagement at science festivals and school outreach events embedded with research on microbial evolution and microbial defence against infection


Department of Biology & Biochemistry

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Dr Nicholas Priest No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
Bath United Kingdom Bacteriology Ecology Educational Psychology Environmental Biology Genetics Genomics Pathology Primary Education Secondary Education

About the Project

The University of Bath is inviting applications for this PhD opportunity commencing in October 2021 and based at the Milner Centre for Evolution.

Funding is available to candidates who qualify for ‘Home’ fee status only. Candidates from the EU/EEA are advised to check their eligibility before applying. Please see the Funding Eligibility section below.

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted problems with our ability to communicate basic evolutionary concepts to the public. The public needs to be able to make informed decisions on complex health information, but they often lack foundations in evolutionary biology needed for living with dynamically-evolving pathogens. We urgently need a programme which engages the public in microbial evolution and microbiome protection. 

The goal of this PhD is to combine citizen science and basic research on microbiome dynamics and microbial evolution to develop a programme to transform public understanding of evolution and biomedicine. 

There are four distinct aspects to the PhD, led by each steward in the supervisory team. Helen Featherstone will lead instruction in Public Engagement with Research, involving a combination of workshops, group work, self-directed activities, e-learning resources, and practical delivery tailored to the project. Daniel Henk will supervise a primary school citizen science package on antimicrobial resistance in natural microbes (children will interact with the scientists on experimental design and will monitor progress of experiments online). Tiffany Taylor will guide a secondary school citizen science practical package on predicting microbial evolution where pupils will run a set experiment on the emergence of motility in real-time. Nick Priest will lead the development of science festival citizen science projects relating to protection provided by microbes against sexually transmitted infections where the public will collect data on experiments run on site. The ultimate aim is to transform public understanding of evolutionary process to transform public confidence post-Covid-19. 

Candidate Requirements:

We require a First Class or good Upper Second Class Honours degree (or the equivalent). A master’s level qualification would also be advantageous.

Non-UK applicants must meet our English language entry requirement.

Enquiries and Applications:

Candidates are encouraged to discuss the project directly with Dr Nicholas Priest ([Email Address Removed]) before applying.

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

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

Your application must be complete when you submit it to us. Incomplete applications cannot be considered. Please ensure you have completed all fields on the application form and supplied the contact details of TWO referees willing to provide us with a reference when requested (one must be from your most recent place of study). Also, you should ensure that you have uploaded all the required documents. See our website for more information.

Interviews will take place on Monday 19 April 2021.

Funding Eligibility:

In order to be considered for a studentship, you must qualify as a ‘Home’ student. In determining ‘Home’ student status, we follow the UK government’s fee regulations which, when available, will be explained on the UKCISA website. Although the fee regulations for 2021/22 have not yet been published, we expect (subject to confirmation) the main categories of students generally eligible for ‘Home’ fee status will be:

  • UK nationals (who have lived in the UK, EU, EEA or Switzerland continuously since September 2018)
  • Irish nationals (who have lived in the UK or Ireland continuously since September 2018)
  • EU/EEA applicants with settled status in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme (who have lived in the UK continuously since September 2018)
  • EU/EEA applicants with pre-settled status in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme (who have lived in the UK, EU, EEA, Switzerland or Gibraltar continuously since September 2018)
  • Applicants with indefinite leave to enter/remain in the UK (who have been resident in the UK continuously since September 2018)

EU/EEA citizens who live outside the UK are unlikely to be eligible for ‘Home’ fees and funding.

Additional information may be found on our fee status guidance webpage and on the GOV.UK website.


Funding Notes

Candidates applying for this project will be considered for a 3.5-year Evolution Education Trust Studentship which will cover tuition fees at the ‘Home’ rate, a tax-free maintenance allowance at the UKRI Doctoral Stipend rate (£15,285 for 2020/21) and a generous budget for research, training and outreach expenses. Important: In order to be eligible for funding, applicants must qualify as a ‘Home’ student - see Funding Eligibility section above.
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