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Reconstructing microbial genomes from environmental samples and their impact ongreenhouse gases (HILDEBRANDQ20DTP1)

   Graduate Programme

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  Dr F Hildebrand  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

We are looking for a highly motivated student, interested in Bioinformatics (metagenomics), global warming, and metabolism-centric interpretation of ecosystems. In this 4-year NRPDTP funded DTP, the student will investigate microbes in the environment that are key players in the cycling of the greenhouse gas methane, utilising metagenomic datasets and software available in the host labs. The main objectives of the PhD are to a) improve metagenomic assemblies and non-redundant gene catalogs of bacterial communities, b) improve existing software to enable genome reconstructions in highly complex environmental samples, and c) investigate genes involved in methane metabolism and finding novel orthologues, nucleotide level variants under selection and hosting microbes of the latter.

This PhD offers training in computational biology, machine learning, high-performance computing and bacterial metabolism, the opportunity to visit international workshops and conferences. Further, the student will have the chance to visit close scientific collaborators of this project in Uppsala (Sweden), Bordeaux (France) and Madrid (Spain) to train and exchange knowledge with international experts. The ideal candidate will have experience in computational biology (Linux environment, one or several programming languages among R/Perl/Python/C++). Knowledge of topics like metagenomics, genomics, ecology, machine learning, and basic wetlab experience are a plus, but will be trained during the PhD.

The supervisory team is composed of Dr Falk Hildebrand and Prof Colin Murrell at the Quadram Institute for Bioscience, the Earlham Institute and the University of East Anglia. Both are renowned experts for metagenomics, bacterial communities, genome scale metabolic models and investigating the impact of environmental bacteria on our climate. They both frequently publish high-impact studies (in Nature/Science) on these subjects. Norwich is the leading microbiology and microbiota research centre in the UK and is an excellent platform for starting a scientific career.

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP). Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed as part of the studentship competition. Candidates will be interviewed on either the 7th, 8th or 9th January 2020.

The NRP DTP offers postgraduates the opportunity to undertake a 4-year research project whilst enhancing professional development and research skills through a comprehensive training programme. You will join a vibrant community of world-leading researchers. All NRPDTP students undertake a three-month professional internship (PIPS) during their study. The internship offers exciting and invaluable work experience designed to enhance professional development. Full support and advice will be provided by our Professional Internship team. Students with, or expecting to attain, at least an upper second-class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply.

For further information and to apply, please visit our website:

Funding Notes

For funding eligibility guidance, please visit our website: Full Studentships cover a stipend (2019/0 rate: £15,009pa), research costs and tuition fees at UK/EU rate and are available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements.

Students from EU countries who do not meet the UK residency requirements may be eligible for a fees-only award. Students in receipt of a fees-only award will be eligible for a maintenance stipend awarded by the NRPDTP Bioscience Doctoral Scholarships. To be eligible students must meet the EU residency requirements.
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