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Leveraging genomics and artificial intelligence to develop predictive pesticide risk assessment frameworks for wild bees. NERC DCT ECORISC PhD Studentship for 2023 entry, PhD in Biosciences


   Department of Biosciences

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  Prof C Bass  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Location:

Department of Biosciences, Penryn Campus, University of Exeter, Penryn, Cornwall

Project Outline:

Protecting wild bees from pesticides:

Are you interested in making fundamental discoveries into the molecular systems that determine the sensitivity of bee pollinators to toxins such as pesticides, while also generating knowledge and tools that can be used to protect bees and the vital ecosystem services they provide? This exciting project will use a range of cutting-edge computational and experimental approaches to address the challenge of controlling damaging crop pests while protecting ‘innocent bystander’ species such as bees.

Bees are among the world’s most environmentally and economically important group of insects, pollinating a remarkable diversity of flowering plants and playing a key role in the production of a wide range of food and commodity crops. However, while carrying out this ecosystem service bees can be exposed to a variety of potentially harmful toxins such as pesticides used in agriculture. Current bee pollinator pesticide risk assessment relies on experimental data collected for a handful of ‘model’ managed bee species such as the western honeybee. However, bees are a highly diverse group of insects comprising more than 20,000 known species. Thus, there is an urgent need to find ways to move beyond the use of data derived from a few managed model bee species as a proxy for wild bees in pesticide risk assessment.

This project will leverage the dramatic increase in genomic information available for bees, in combination with recent advances in three-dimensional modelling of enzyme structures and enzyme expression, to develop new tools and predictive pipelines for bee pesticide risk assessment. The supervisory team have a strong track record of working and publishing on the topic of bee-pesticide interactions and include an industrial partner who will provide additional funding for the project, and an excellent route to ensure the fundamental knowledge generated results in applied impact in terms of protecting bee pollinators.

You will be trained in a variety of state-of-the-art approaches that are highly sought-after by employers in academia and industry. These will include bioinformatics (analysis of genome sequences) three-dimensional modelling of enzyme structures, insect (bee and Drosophila) bioassays, molecular biology (gene cloning and expression) and biochemistry (enzyme assays).

Supervisor: Professor Chris Bass

Host organisation: Exeter University (Cornwall campus)

Partner Organisation: Bayer

The ECORISC CDT

This project is being advertised by the NERC-funded ECORISC (Ecotoxicological Risk Assessment Towards Sustainable Chemical Use) Centre for Doctoral Training programme. Funding will be provided for 3 years and 10 months. During this time you will work on your research project but will also receive unique and outstanding training in pollution science and transferable skills.

Over the first two years of the PhD programme, you will receive subject-specific training, in: i) ecotoxicology; ii) environmental chemistry; iii) ecology; and iv) risk assessment; and v) core skills required for an environmental specialist. The formal training programme will be complemented by yearly residential challenge events and tailored specialist skills training conducted as group and individual exercises.

ECORISC students will also be required to undertake two workplace experiences based with our business, policy and regulation, third sector and research organisation partners.

An inclusive CDT programme:

Inclusivity is at the heart of the ECORISC programme. We strongly encourage applications from under-represented groups and are employing a number of mechanisms, such as the possibility of part-time working, to ensure the programme is open to all. We will ensure that individuals with disabilities are provided reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process. If you have any questions, then please don’t hesitate to contact us at [Email Address Removed].

Eligibility and Application process:

The studentships are open to highly motivated UK and international/EU applicants with at least an Upper Second Class Honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject. Successful applicants will be passionate about environmental pollution science and want their science to make a difference.

To be considered for this and other PhD’s offered under the ECORISC CDT, you should initially complete a short online application form available on the ECORISC PhD Studentships web page.

Applications should be submitted before 17:00 on Friday 9th December 2022.

You will be notified of the outcome of the process by 17:00 Thursday 22nd December 2022.

Successful applicants will be provided with an opportunity to meet with supervisory teams and then be invited to submit a project-specific application form which will be used to shortlist candidates for an interview.

ECORISC open afternoon We are running an online ‘open afternoon’ for you to learn more about the CDT and to ask questions on the programme or the application process.

This event will run from 14:00-16:00 GMT on Wednesday 16th November 2022 and booking details can be found on the ECORISC website

Entry requirements

The studentships are open to highly motivated UK and international applicants with at least an upper second class Honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject. Successful applicants will be passionate about environmental pollution science and want their science to make a difference.

International applicants need to be aware that you will have to cover the cost of your student visa, healthcare surcharge and other costs of moving to the UK to do a PhD.

The conditions for eligibility of home fees status are complex and you will need to seek advice if you have moved to or from the UK (or Republic of Ireland) within the past 3 years or have applied for settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

How to apply

To be considered for this and other PhD’s offered under the ECORISC CDT, you should initially complete a short online application form available on the ECORISC PhD Studentships web page

Applications should be submitted before 17:00 on Friday 9th December 2022.

You will be notified of the outcome of the process by 17:00 Thursday 22nd December 2022.

If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email [Email Address Removed] or phone 0300 555 60 60 (UK callers) +44 (0) 1392 723044 (International callers)

Project-specific queries should be directed to the supervisor; Professor Chris Bass - [Email Address Removed]


Funding Notes

For eligible students the studentship will cover tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £17,668 for 3 years 10 months full-time, or pro rata for part-time study.
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