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PhD Studentship Opportunity in the impact of environment and control strategies on the dynamics of Rift Valley fever


Faculty of Health & Medical Sciences

Friday, April 30, 2021 Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Mosquitoes are considered the deadliest animal in the world because of the devastating diseases that they carry. These include Rift Valley fever, whose outbreaks can lead to large economic losses to farmers, and sometimes hundreds of deaths in humans.

Many strategies to tackle mosquito-borne diseases have been proposed, for instance vaccination, change in water-body dynamics (due to, e.g. irrigation) and reduction of the mosquito population (via insecticides or releasing genetically modified, non-biting, male mosquitoes incapable of producing viable offspring). Mathematical models are powerful tools to safely assess these control strategies before applying them in the real world. These models need to capture the effects of weather/climate as mosquitoes thrive in warm and wet regions, to determine under which environmental conditions the mosquito population and/or the infection can fade out or establish.

You will develop and use models to assess the efficacy of classical and novel (e.g. release of genetically modified mosquitoes) strategies and some of their combinations. The modelling work will be relevant/applicable to other widespread vector-borne diseases.

Dr Lo Iacono will supervise the overall project, providing mathematical expertise and general guidance. Dr Betson will provide expertise in public health, vector-borne diseases and research experience in vector biology. Dr Bett (ILRI, Kenya) is a veterinarian with expertise in infectious disease modelling, participatory epidemiology and disease surveillance. Dr Boëte (ISEM, France) is an evolutionary biologist with a background in medical entomology. He will provide expertise on ecology and control of mosquito vectors.  Dr Betson, Bett and Boëte will act as co-supervisors.

This is a 3 year project.

The ideal starting time is July, but the option to start in October 2021 is also considered. If you want to start in October, please discuss this with Dr Lo Iacono. 

Entry requirements

This is an interdisciplinary project requiring computational and mathematical skills as well as a good understanding of biological processes. Applicants are required to hold an undergraduate degree in Mathematics or a related subject (e.g. Physics, Engineering). Undergraduates with a degree in Biological Sciences or related subjects are also welcomed as long as they have a strong interest in mathematical modelling. A Masters degree in a public health or epidemiological-related subject is desirable. Experience in mathematical modelling, biostatistics is desirable but not essential.

How to apply

Applications should be submitted via the Veterinary Medicine and Science PhD programme page on the "Apply" tab.

Please state clearly the studentship project at you would like to apply for.


Funding Notes

Funding will cover University fees at the UK/EU rate for three years and a stipend for three years at RCUK levels (about £15,000 per year). In addition, funding includes bench fees to a value of about £10,000 over the three years to cover conference attendance and training. For further information see View Website (click on the Fees and Funding tab). This PhD studentship has been generously funded by the Longhurst Legacy

References

https://www.pnas.org/content/115/31/E7448.long
https://www.surrey.ac.uk/news/deadly-rift-valley-fever-new-insight-and-hope-future

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