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PhD Studentship in Agriculture - The effects of biopesticides on bees and implications for regulatory testing

   School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

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  Dr D George  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project


Plant protection products must be shown to be safe for non-target organisms, particularly bees, in order to satisfy regulatory requirements. Biopesticides are a rapidly expanding class of plant protection products, many of which are based on microbial ‘actives’. However, no formal methods are available for the regulatory testing of microbial biopesticides on bees. 

Whilst many microbial pesticides are unlikely to cause disease in non-target insects due to a lack of specific pathogenicity, simply exposing a social insect to a microorganism has the potential to activate subclinical responses that can lead to colony-level effects. In order to identify appropriate endpoints and experimental designs for regulatory testing, the student will investigate the knowledge gaps between exposure to biopesticides and the physiological, behavioural and mortality responses in honey bees.  

The student will be based at Fera Science Limited at York, where they will carry out the experimental work, joining an experienced and diverse team working on honey bees. Training will be given in laboratory and field-based techniques, covering methods to assess honey bee behaviour and survival, microbiology culturing methods, cellular immune assays and RT qPCR, data handling and statistical analysis. 

Number Of Awards


Start Date

18th September 2023

Award Duration

3 years


Institute for Agri-Food Research Innovations (IAFRI) & Newcastle University (NU)


David George (NU) and Ben Jones (Fera)

Eligibility Criteria

You must have, or expect to gain, a minimum 2:1 Honours degree or international equivalent in a relevant subject (inc. agriculture, biology, environmental sciences, etc.)

Applicants whose first language is not English require an IELTS score of 6.5 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in all sub-skills.  

The studentship covers fees at the Home rate (UK and EU applicants with pre-settled/settled status and meet the residency criteria). International applicants are welcome to apply but will be required to cover the difference between Home and International fees. 

International applicants may require an ATAS (Academic Technology Approval Scheme) clearance certificate prior to obtaining their visa and to study on this programme. 

How To Apply

You must apply through the University’s Apply to Newcastle Portal 

Once registered select ‘Create a Postgraduate Application’. 

Use ‘Course Search’ to identify your programme of study: 

  • Search for the ‘Course Title’ using the programme code: 8010F  
  • Research area: Agriculture 
  • Select ‘PhD Agriculture and Rural Development (full time) - Agriculture as the  programme of study 

You will then need to provide the following information in the ‘Further Questions’ section: 

  • A ‘Personal Statement’ (this is a mandatory field) - upload a document or write a statement directly in to the application form 
  • The studentship code SNES241 in the ‘Studentship/Partnership Reference’ field 
  • When prompted regarding your research proposal - select ‘Write Proposal’. You should then type in the title of the research project from this advert. You do not need to upload a research proposal.   

Contact Details

For further information please contact: [Email Address Removed] and include ‘IAFRI PhD’ in the email subject line. 

Funding Notes

100% home fees covered and a minimum tax-free annual living allowance of £17,668 (2022-23 UKRI rate).
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