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PhD Studentship - Mathematical and statistical methods to quantify behavioural responses to disease

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  • Full or part time
    Dr R Davidson
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Applications are sought from exceptional candidates with backgrounds in mathematical or related disciplines, for the above PhD position jointly offered by the University of York, SRUC and Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland (BioSS). The studentship, based at BioSS in Edinburgh, provides the opportunity to acquire highly transferrable skills in state-of-the-art methods for stochastic and statistical modelling, and will carry out research into the interaction between disease dynamics and behavioural responses to disease.

Observed patterns of disease are the result of epidemiological processes including pathogen transmission in structured host populations and disease progression within hosts, combined with the behavioural responses of hosts to perceptions about the disease. However, most modelling studies of disease dynamics fail to account for individual behaviour. The aim of this project is to develop tools and theory to quantify and understand the effect of behaviour on the dynamics, persistence and prevalence of disease.

This project will apply cutting-edge statistical approaches (e.g. data augmentation MCMC) to fit a range of computational models, and develop theory based on simulation and analysis of stochastic processes. It will focus on two contrasting examples, the response of urban populations to changes in the incidence of dengue fever, such as through taking preventative measures, and farmer response to livestock disease, in particular Bovine Tuberculosis and the perceived risks associated with it. The project will use the tools thus developed to look at the relationships between disease control strategies, such as the application of diagnostic tests in the case of TB or management of disease carriers in the case of dengue fever, and individual behaviour. This will increase our understanding of risk factors associated with disease and will provide important information to help design and assess control strategies for this disease of national and international importance.

In addition to mathematical abilities (with a 2:1 or higher in mathematics or a related discipline), candidates should be in possession of strong IT skills and be able to demonstrate the ability to communicate research both at a general level and to scientists from a range of disciplines. It is anticipated that the successful candidates will foster strong links across all of the research groups involved as well as more broadly with other partner organisations and beyond. Experience with any of stochastic processes, dynamical systems, Bayesian statistics, MCMC, R and C++, as well as experience working with and understanding research literature will all be highly beneficial. It is expected that the students will present their work at national and international conferences, as well as attending workshops and summer schools.

The stipend for this studentship is £14,057 pa (subject to revision in 2016) over three years, with an anticipated start date of 1st September 2016 (although the position is available from January 2016 and a different start date is negotiable depending on circumstances). The successful applicants will be based at BioSS in Edinburgh, registered for a PhD at the University of York, and will be expected to make frequent visits to all partner institutions.

To discuss the position informally, potential candidates are invited to contact Prof. Glenn Marion ([Email Address Removed]) or Dr Ross Davidson ([Email Address Removed]).


To apply please fill out the online application form available at including a CV and covering letter explaining why you are suited to the post. Alternatively application packs can be requested from [email protected] Tel 0131 535 4028 quoting reference SRUC/1030402/Davidson

The closing date for the return of applications is 31st January 2016. We expect to hold interviews on Friday 5th of February.

How good is research at SRUC - Scotland’s Rural College in Agriculture, Veterinary and Food Science?
(joint submission with University of Edinburgh)

FTE Category A staff submitted: 57.37

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

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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