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IAFRI PhD Studentship: The effects of biopesticides on bees and implications for regulatory testing

   School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

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  Dr Ben Jones  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project


Plant protection products must be shown to be safe for non-target organisms, particularly bees, in order to satisfy regulatory requirements. Biopesticides are a rapidly expanding class of plant protection products, many of which are based on microbial ‘actives’. However, no formal methods are available for the regulatory testing of microbial biopesticides on bees.

Whilst many microbial pesticides are unlikely to cause disease in non-target insects due to a lack of specific pathogenicity, simply exposing a social insect to a microorganism has the potential to activate subclinical responses that can lead to colony-level effects. In order to identify appropriate endpoints and experimental designs for regulatory testing, the student will investigate the knowledge gaps between exposure to biopesticides and the physiological, behavioural and mortality responses in honey bees.

The student will be based at Fera Science Limited at York, where they will carry out the experimental work, joining an experienced and diverse team working on honey bees. Training will be given in laboratory and field-based techniques, covering methods to assess honey bee behaviour and survival, microbiology culturing methods, cellular immune assays and RT qPCR, data handling and statistical analysis. In addition, the student is expected to contribute to international working groups and to present findings (e.g., at Fera’s annual science conference). The student will also have full remote and ‘in person’ access to postgraduate resources at Newcastle University, where they will become a member of the ‘Agricultural Production Systems’ group within the School of Natural Environmental Sciences.

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

Ben Jones (Fera Science Ltd): [Email Address Removed]

Additional supervisor(s)

Dave George (Newcastle University): [Email Address Removed]

Selwyn Wilkins (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 8010F in the programme of study section
  • Select ‘PhD in Agriculture and Rural Development (full time) - Agriculture’ as the programme of study
  • Insert the studentship code IAFR2206 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 IAFR2206 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

Ben Jones (Fera Science Ltd): [Email Address Removed]

Dave George (Newcastle University): [Email Address Removed]

Selwyn Wilkins (Fera Science Ltd): [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

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