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IAFRI PhD Studentship: Applying eDNA/metabarcoding for the biomonitoring and assessment of Environmental Land Management Schemes (ELMs).

   School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

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  Prof Darren Evans  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project


Recent developments in environmental DNA (eDNA)/metabarcoding present opportunities for the roll-out of novel biomonitoring schemes in farmed landscapes, including assessments of changes to land use on biodiversity and natural capital. In collaboration with Syngenta, Government agencies and other industrial partners, this project will apply the technology to assess pest and beneficial insect community responses to new Environmental Land Management Schemes (ELMs). Specifically it will: 1) compare biodiversity (particularly pest and beneficial insects) in entomological traps in managed crop and non-crop habitats using a paired experimental design; 2) evaluate biomonitoring methods that can be developed as agronomy tools for the surveillance of pests and disease; 3) assess spatial and temporal effects on terrestrial biodiversity natural capital using established projects (e.g. Syngenta’s Operation Pollinator initiative) and other farm networks aligned with Fera’s projects portfolio.

The project is ideally suited to students with an interest in applied ecology and who wish to work alongside stakeholders, with opportunities to participate in workshops with industry partners, stakeholders and academics. The collaboration between Newcastle and Fera provides a unique training opportunity in industry-focussed applied entomology, molecular biology and network ecology, drawing upon recent advances in network-based biomonitoring developed by Newcastle’s Network Ecology Group. The student will have access to world-class laboratories, NU Farms research platform and state-of-the art genomics facilities, and receive bespoke training in field and molecular biology, combined with network science.

Number Of Awards


Start Date

October 2022 

Award Duration

3 years


IAFRI - Fera Science Ltd & Newcastle University (School of Natural and Environmental Sciences)


Lead supervisor 

Darren Evans (Newcastle University): [Email Address Removed]

Additional supervisor(s) 

Larissa Collins (Fera Science Ltd): [Email Address Removed]

Ian Adams (Fera Science Ltd): [Email Address Removed]

Eligibility Criteria

IAFRI studentships are funded jointly by Newcastle University and Fera Science Ltd for 3 years. Funding will cover stipend, tuition fees and research consumables at the UK rate only. IAFRI studentships are available to both UK and international applicants. Residency rules apply. International and EU fee rate candidates will need to cover additional costs. We are looking for highly motivated individuals who have or are expecting to attain at least an upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject and with experience in/an aspiration to work in or alongside industry.

How To Apply

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system.

You will need to:

  • Insert the programme code 8020F in the programme of study section
  • Select ‘PhD Biology (full time) - Biological Sciences’ as the programme of study
  • Insert the studentship code IAFR2201 in the studentship/partnership reference field
  • attach a covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote reference code IAFR2201 and state how your interests and experience relate to the project
  • Attach degree transcripts and certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualifications.

Contact Details

Darren Evans: [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

100% of home tuition fees paid and annual living expenses of £15,609.
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