How do infectious diseases affect the evolution of host reproductive strategies? When should hosts evolve to reproduce sexually, or asexually? Is monogamy preferable to polygamy if disease is common? These are just a few of the many longstanding questions in evolutionary biology as to the role that parasites play in the evolution of host reproductive strategies. Furthermore, we have little understanding of how host reproductive strategies affect the evolution of parasites, especially sexually transmitted infections (STIs). If hosts are promiscuous, should STIs evolve to be more virulent than if hosts are more cautious? Should STIs sterilise their hosts to maximise transmission?
The aim of this project is to develop novel theory to understand how and when infectious diseases impact on the evolution of host reproductive strategies, and vice versa. Using mathematical modelling of how infectious diseases spread and evolve, the successful candidate will answer important and longstanding questions in evolutionary biology which will shed new light on the relationships between parasitism and host reproduction. The student will have flexibility to work with the supervisor in project design and research direction.
The student will apply a wide range of modelling techniques to address their research questions, including approaches from population genetics, quantitative genetics, adaptive dynamics, and evolutionary game theory, along with numerical analysis and individual based modelling.
The student will join a new group at the University of Bath, which seeks to understand the ecology and evolution of hosts and parasites using mathematical modelling. The Department of Mathematical Sciences at Bath has a strong track record in mathematical biology, with close links to the new Milner Centre for Evolution.
The successful candidate will be given training in theoretical techniques for modelling epidemiological and evolutionary processes, including analytic, numeric, and simulation-based approaches. They will also have the opportunity to work with a network of experimental collaborators and to present research findings at national and international conferences.
Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, a First Class or high Upper Second Class UK Honours degree (or the equivalent qualification gained outside the UK) in a relevant subject. A master’s level qualification would also be advantageous.
The successful candidate will have a solid background in mathematics and a keen interest in modelling biological systems.
Informal enquiries should be directed to Dr Ben Ashby, [email protected]
Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form: https://samis.bath.ac.uk/urd/sits.urd/run/siw_ipp_lgn.login?process=siw_ipp_app&code1=RDUMA-FP03&code2=0013
Please ensure that you quote the supervisor’s name and project title in the ‘Your research interests’ section. Should you wish to apply for more than one advertised project, you should submit a separate personal statement for each one.
More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found here: http://www.bath.ac.uk/guides/how-to-apply-for-doctoral-study/
Anticipated start date: 30 September 2019.