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Understanding Patterns of Incidence in Blackleg Disease

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  • Full or part time
    Dr P Skelsey
    Dr S Humphris
    Dr I Hein
    Prof G Hughes
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Are you interested in becoming an Epidemiologist?
We are offering a unique opportunity to improve our understanding of a globally important crop pathogen. The project incorporates the challenges of practical experimentation, analysis of large datasets, and development of new tools and strategies to improve disease management.

Why is this project important?
Potato is the third most important food crop in the world after rice and wheat in terms of human consumption. More than a billion people worldwide eat potato, and global total production exceeds 300 million metric tons. Among the most destructive of plant pathogens that threaten potato production are the bacteria that cause blackleg and soft rot. Several approaches have been studied to control blackleg, but the degree of success has been variable and the processes underlying the establishment and spread of this disease largely remain unknown. With this project, we offer a real opportunity to write a new chapter on blackleg epidemiology.

What will you be doing?
The successful candidate will identify the principal drivers of potato blackleg through the design of a focused set of plant assay experiments and the analysis of national-scale soil, weather, and epidemiological datasets. You will learn how to explore these data using GIS, and how to apply cutting edge machine learning techniques to automatically develop a predictive model (decision support tool). The model and experimental results will be used to guide both growers and government to straightforward disease intervention strategies.

What’s in it for you?
Become an expert in plant disease epidemiology. You will gain a unique blend of skills in plant pathology, GIS and computational epidemiology that is highly marketable and much sought after in both research and the agricultural industry. You will receive training in state-of-the-art techniques for analysing epidemiological data, in addition to field and laboratory skills at a world leading research institute. This is a unique opportunity to work with and learn from a highly experienced supervisory team with internationally recognised expertise, and to work closely with industry experts.

Candidate requirements:
Applicants should have a first-class or 2.1 (Hons) degree in an appropriate subject, such as biology, agriculture/horticulture, data analytics, GIS. A Master’s degree (or equivalent) would be beneficial. The PhD student will be registered with the Division of Plant Sciences at the University of Dundee, and based at the James Hutton Institute in Dundee. The closing date for the return of applications is 5pm on September 24th 2018, with an expected start date of November 1st 2018.

Funding Notes

Full studentships (UK/EU tuition fees and stipend (£14,777 2018/19 [tax free]) for UK/EU students for 3.5 years.

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