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PhD in cellular and structural biology - Elucidating infection at the plant-microbe interphase to define targets for crop breeding


Department of Animal and Plant Sciences

About the Project

Achieving food security is one of the most important global challenges. Crop production and yield has been increasingly threatened by plant pathogens in a rapidly changing environment. New and emerging technologies in all fields of life sciences already start to support and accelerate the demanding search for novel resistance targets in crop breeding. We precisely study the interaction of plants and their pathogens during the infection process at the cellular, molecular and structural interface incorporating advanced imaging technologies, ranging from highly-sensitive confocal laser-scanning and light-sheet microscopy to quantitative super-resolution microscopy. Our advanced imaging approach is decisively supported by the direct access to the latest analytical “omics” equipment and biochemical technology as well as expertise in molecular genetics, synthetic biology and genome editing, representing key technologies in modern crop breeding. This unique, technology-driven approach enables direct translation from model plants to crops and provides industrial crop breeders with novel strategies for enhanced pathogen resistance.

The projected research will be embedded in the excellent scientific environment of the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences at the University of Sheffield, providing expertise and room for interaction with leading scientists in all fields of plant and soil science, combining expertise in molecular, biochemical, analytical technologies as well as modelling, ecosystem services, sustainability and climate change. As a PhD student you can also build on the recently established flagship centre, the Institute for Sustainable Food with its emphasis on translational plant science, established collaborations with crop breeding companies and upgraded, state-of-the-art controlled environment facilities.

Ours is a truly international environment, in the heart of one of the best student cities in the UK. Our research involves collaborations with colleagues in the UK, Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, and South America. Our postgraduate community is vibrant and diverse and we currently have over 100 graduate students carrying out PhD research, including numerous international students. We frequently host overseas staff and researchers attracted by the department’s and Sheffield’s outstanding reputation for high quality research and training.

As a PhD student in our department, you’ll be part of the Science Graduate School. You’ll get access to training opportunities designed to support your career development by helping you gain professional skills that are essential in all areas of science, and training from world leading experts in subject specific skills. You’ll be able to learn how to recognise good research and research behaviour, improve your communication abilities and experience the breadth of technologies that are used in academia, industry and many related careers. Visit http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/sgs to learn more.

Entry Requirements
We welcome applications from students with backgrounds in any relevant subject that provides skills, knowledge and experience, including biological, chemical, physical, engineering and environmental sciences. A strong interest in imaging technologies and technology-driven approaches would be beneficial. Candidates are expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree (or equivalent international qualifications). EU and International applicants may be required to provide evidence of competence in the English language

Funding Notes

Applicants will need to obtain funding to cover tuition fees and living expenses.

The applicant should have, or expect to gain at least an upper second class degree, or equivalent overseas qualification, in a relevant subject

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