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Minimising the impact of epidemics on health, society and economy

   Department of Physics

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  Dr F Perez-Reche, Prof A Politi, Dr E Ullner  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Infectious diseases are responsible for more deaths in human history than all wars together. There are many examples of large epidemics in history such as the Black Death in the middle ages or the 1918 influenza pandemic. Even in a medically advanced society, we are constantly threatened by many pathogens. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is a clear example of how devastating the effects of infectious diseases can be even with our current knowledge and technology. Epidemics are not only challenging in terms of their threat to human health but also have a big impact on social and economic aspects. Following this, the measures taken to mitigate the impact of epidemics should ideally try to account for the complex interrelation between many health and socio-economic factors. As witnessed in the COVID-19 crisis, this is a daunting task and, for instance, different countries have addressed the challenge in different ways.

This project will use mathematical models to study the spread of infection and associated socio-economic damage. The ultimate aim is to find optimal strategies to mitigate the impact of epidemics in terms of health and socio-economic factors. Based on existing studies, network models are expected to be a suitable tool to address these questions. So far, network models have been very useful to identify individuals whose isolation or vaccination should be prioritised to minimise the number of infections. This project will go a step further by exploring strategies that do not only minimise the impact on health (for instance to prevent deaths) but also keep the economic and social impact at levels that are as low as possible.

Overall, this is an opportunity to work on a multifaceted project that will lead to a better understanding of the control of epidemics. The project will also produce software that can help public health and governmental teams to devise optimal control strategies for current and future epidemics.

Selection will be made on the basis of academic merit. The successful candidate should have, or expect to obtain, a UK Honours degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent) in Applied maths, physics, computer science or related degrees.

Formal applications can be completed online:

• Apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Physics

• State name of the lead supervisor as the Name of Proposed Supervisor

• State ‘Self-funded’ as Intended Source of Funding

• State the exact project title on the application form

When applying please ensure all required documents are attached:

• All degree certificates and transcripts (Undergraduate AND Postgraduate MSc-officially translated into English where necessary)

• Detailed CV, Personal Statement/Motivation Letter and Intended source of funding

Informal inquiries can be made to Dr F Perez-Reche ([Email Address Removed]) with a copy of your curriculum vitae and a brief description of why you are interested in this project. All general enquiries should be directed to the Postgraduate Research School ([Email Address Removed])

Funding Notes

This PhD project has no funding attached and is therefore available to students (UK/International) who are able to seek their own funding or sponsorship. Supervisors will not be able to respond to requests to source funding. Details of the cost of study can be found by visiting


Related research by the Aberdeen Group for the Mathematics of Infectious Diseases, see
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