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Investigating the potential of Rapid Evaporative Ionization Mass Spectrometry (REIMS) using the iKnife for real-time identification of quarantine pest

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Sunday, April 07, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

The first line of defence against the movement of pathogens/pests across borders is the inspection service, who look for quarantine organisms which they send to the laboratory for identification. REIMS is a mass spectrometry method that could enable real-time pest identification at the port of entry, enabling inspectors to speed up transit of material across borders.

For quarantine pests and pathogens early detection is key to successful eradication and containment and is the basis for plant health regulations (Regulation (EU) 2016/2031). As pests spread within a region the scale of the problem increases and the potential to eradicate or contain the pest becomes diminished. Detection of pests and pathogens at borders and ports of entry is achieved by Defra’s Plant Health and Seeds Inspection service, who inspect material entering the UK looking for disease symptoms or infestation by 2 • Training provided • location of training and research) pests. Typically, samples are sent to the laboratory for analysis and actionable results returned some time later. The delay between sampling and results can cause a number of problems for key stakeholders. Importers must pay demurrage charges and if necessary (and available), pay for the use of cold storage facilities. The delays can cause deterioration of the produce, reducing its value (e.g. mango reduces by 50% in value in 24 hours of storage) and finally, if a quarantine organism is found they must pay for safe disposal of the produce. Delays cause logistical issues for the ports of entry as produce ‘backs up’ in bonded storage. There are knock on consequences for retailers and consumers relying on just in time supply chains as goods become held, awaiting results.

Hypothesis to be investigated

The use of Rapid Evaporative Ionization Mass Spectrometry (REIMS) using the iKnife could enable rapid identification of quarantine pests at the border, enabling inspectors to make more rapid decisions.

Full Project Description

How to apply

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application form. Only mandatory fields need to be completed. However, you will need to include the following information:

• insert the programme code 8010F in the programme of study section
• select ‘PhD in Agriculture and Rural Development (FT) – Food and Nutrition’ as the programme of study
• insert the studentship code IAFRI-01 in the studentship/partnership reference field
• attach a covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the title of the project, quote reference code IAFRI-01 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

You should also send a covering letter and CV to Mr Steven Hall (e-mail to )

The online application system will only allow one application for an IAFRI studentship. If you are applying for TWO projects then you will need to e-mail Postgraduate Admissions and Steven Hall with the following information:

-your applicant number (from the first project application)
-the second project title
-a two page covering letter for the second project
Please also include 'IAFRI-01 ' in the email header

Funding Notes

There are five studentships available from 10 projects to choose from based on the current themes.
Students will be based at either Newcastle University or Fera Science Ltd in York. Each award provides a 3 year PhD with 100% tuition fees at UK/EU rate plus an annual stipend (minimum £15,009) Successful non-EU international students will be required to make up the difference between the UK/EU fees and international fees.

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