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PhD studentship: Human and livestock influence on tick populations and the environmental hazards of Tick-Borne Pathogens


   Vaccines & Diagnostics

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  Dr L Gilbert  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Reference: 03-06-22

Salary: UKRI-level stipend

Closing date: 17 July 2022

This is an exciting opportunity for a highly motivated individual to join a multidisciplinary team of researchers in a dynamic and diverse research environment. The student will learn new skills in field ecology, statistical and laboratory diagnostics methods as well as receive training in a range of essential skills such as scientific writing, presentation, communication, liaison and management. The student will join a team of researchers seeking to discover how humans and livestock may shape their own risk of exposure to vectors and vector-borne disease.

Previous research has focused on how external factors influence Tick-Borne Pathogen (TBP) risk to livestock and humans, such as climate, wildlife host communities and habitat. However, humans or livestock themselves may be instrumental in changing tick and TBP abundance and distribution. Humans and livestock could alter the environmental hazard of TBPs through various mechanisms. For example, humans may instil a “Landscape of Fear” in deer (the main tick hosts). Livestock grazing may modify habitat quality and vegetation structure with cascading effects on hosts that transmit TBPs. There may be spatiotemporal competition between livestock and deer. Addressing these potential crucial drivers of tick and pathogens could be key to mitigating disease risk if it is easier to modify human behaviour or livestock distribution rather than, or in addition to, trying to control the wider environment. This project therefore tests hypotheses of how both humans and livestock interact with, and change, their environment (including hosts and habitat), thereby influencing tick and pathogen hazard. This will be achieved by collecting new data on wildlife, livestock and ticks collected from field surveys in Scotland, running molecular pathogen diagnostics, combining this with large existing datasets, conducting complex multivariate statistics, supported by a multidisciplinary team of scientists at the University of Glasgow, Moredun Research Institute and Scotland’s Rural College (Inverness).

This 4-year studentship will be mainly based at the University of Glasgow (Prof. Lucy Gilbert) with frequent interaction and periods of work at Moredun (Dr. Mara Rocchi) and SRUC (Dr. Jude Eze). Some travel between sites as well as to field work locations will be also required.

Skills and experience required

The successful applicant will evaluate how humans and livestock shape the environmental hazard of acquiring Tick-Borne Pathogens (TBPs) in Scotland. Therefore, candidates should: 

  • Have experience of ecological fieldwork (Essential)
  • Demonstrable experience of multivariate statistical techniques and managing data sets.
  • Some laboratory experience, especially molecular techniques (PCR) is desirable.
  • Have (or expect to achieve) a minimum of a 2.1 Honours degree in a relevant subject. A Master’s degree or equivalent additional experience is desirable.

We can only accept applications from individuals who have the right to work in the UK.          

How to apply 

To apply for this PhD, please complete the application form and email the completed form to [Email Address Removed]. For further information related to the project/scholarship, please contact the university supervisor [Email Address Removed].

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