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PhD in Chemical Ecology

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

In response to the near-universal threat of being consumed by insect herbivores, plants have evolved a sophisticated arsenal of chemical defences. These defences influence virtually all terrestrial food webs and are an important constraint on carbon fluxes through ecosystems; they underpin patterns of biodiversity and are used to develop resilient crops.

Research in my lab focuses on the chemical ecology of plant defence. We are investigating: 1) how defensive metabolites influence insects, from leaf-chewing caterpillars to pollen-collecting bees, 2) how the environment influences defence trait expression and 3) the strength of natural selection on plant metabolism. We use wild and cultivated systems, from wild tomatoes to maize, and our work is conducted using a combination of field studies in natural habitats (e.g., Uganda, Peru, U.S.A.), experimental evolution, metabolomic analyses, and molecular tools.

In this PhD you will play a key role in our research investigating the drivers and consequences of the remarkable diversity of plant defences. You will have the opportunity to learn cutting-edge techniques in metabolomics and genomics based in our Department’s state-of-the-art facilities, preparing you for a wide variety of scientific career paths. I welcome applications from students with diverse backgrounds with interests in ecology, evolutionary biology, plant molecular biology, agriculture, chemistry, animal behaviour, genetics, entomology or some combination of these.

Science Graduate School
As a PhD student in one of the science departments at the University of Sheffield, 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. 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 to learn more.

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

How good is research at University of Sheffield in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 44.90

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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