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Museum genomics for understanding species decline and extinction

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Tuesday, December 31, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Oxford Brookes University
Faculty of Health and Life Sciences,
Department of Biomedical and Medical Sciences

3 Year, full-time PhD studentship
Eligibility: Home UK/EU applicants who must be permanently resident in UK/EU
Closing date: 31 December 2019
Start date: September 2020
Interview w/c 13 January 2020
Bursary p.a.: Bursary equivalent to UKRI national minimum stipend plus fees (2019/20 bursary rate is £15,009)
University fees and bench fees at the Home/EU rate will be met by the University for the 3 years of the Studentship.
Supervisors: Dr. Saad Arif, Prof. Tim Shreeve, Dr. Michael Gerth, Dr. Maria DS Nunes


Background and Aims: Genetic diversity is part of biodiversity. The current biodiversity crisis is not only resulting in loss of species but rapid erosion of genetic diversity within species, increasing the likelihood of extinction. Advances in sequencing technologies, including those that can be applied to historic specimens, allows for charting genome-wide changes in genetic diversity through time. Additionally, high-resolution genomic data can identify specific genetic changes associated with species declines. Butterfly species are particularly responsive to changes in the environment and offer an excellent opportunity to understand the genomic basis of the decline and local extinction in general. This project contributes to the integration of genomic studies into conservation programmes, using two butterfly case studies (Black-veined white and Wood white) with contrasting extinction process pathways.

Methodology and Training: In this project the PhD student will collaborate with the Oxford University Museum of Natural History (OUMNH), Natural History Museum (NHM London) and other museums across the UK and Europe to obtain a temporally-spaced sampling of Black-veined white and Wood white specimens. Some field work, in the UK and Europe, for collecting specimens and some ecological data from extant populations will also be required. Molecular work will involve DNA extraction from fresh and 100-200 year old dried museum samples. The student will use whole genomic data and/or reduced representation genomic data (e.g. HyRAD) to understand the genomic consequences of species’ decline and local extinction and the implications for conservation and reintroduction. Training in molecular work, bioinformatics and population genomics will be provided by the Centre of Functional Genomics at Oxford Brookes University.

For further information contact Dr Saad Arif: or Prof. Tim Shreeve:

Funding Notes

Applicants should have a first or upper second class honours degree from a Higher Education Institution in the UK or acceptable equivalent qualification in Biology, Ecology, Evolution, Conservation or related discipline. A strong interest in one or more of the following: bioinformatics, genomics and conservation is essential. EU Applicants must have a valid IELTS Academic test certificate (or equivalent) with an overall minimum score of 7.0 and no score below 6.0 issued in the last 2 years by an approved test centre.

How to apply:
Applications should be sent to and should include the following form
(View Website)

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