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Visual ecology, fisheries bycatch reduction, and developing new technologies - Biosciences – PhD (Funded)

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  • Full or part time
    Dr J Blount
    Dr M Stevens
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The University of Exeter’s College of Life and Environmental Sciences, in partnership with SafetyNet Technologies (SNT), is inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship to commence in September 2019 or as soon as possible thereafter. For eligible students the studentship will cover UK/EU tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £15,009 for 3.5 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study. The student will be based in Biosciences in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences at the Penryn Campus in Cornwall, but will also spend blocks of time at SNT’s headquarters in London.

A major challenge is in supplying food to growing populations while conserving wild animal populations. This is exemplified in commercial fishing, whereby fish stocks are often threatened and vast amounts of bycatch are caught; up to 25% of total global fisheries catch is discarded, costing an estimated $1 billion per year (UN FAO). Reducing bycatch while maintaining capture of target fish is of great importance. An area largely neglected, yet with huge potential, is to exploit differences in visual ecology of fish and bycatch species, and use this to create and enhance technologies to attract/repel key species from commercial fishing nets. One particularly promising approach uses LED lighting. The project partner and co-funder of this PhD, SafetyNet Tech (SNT; http://sntech.co.uk), is designing technology that integrates light systems into commercial fishing nets to aid fishermen. However, this has not so far been informed by an understanding of visual perception or scientific testing.

This PhD studentship will first research differences in the visual ecology of key fish species and how they see objects under different conditions. This will involve analysing and collating information on species’ vision and light conditions into new software tools that can model perception of visual stimuli by different species under water. Second, experiments with key fish species with SNT lighting equipment will test the effectiveness of LED lighting systems that are predicted to reduce bycatch while maintaining target capture. Results will then refine the visual models and software tools, and inform on new improved designs of LED net technology.

This award provides annual funding to cover UK/EU tuition fees and a tax-free stipend. For students who pay UK/EU tuition fees the award will cover the tuition fees in full, plus at least £15,009 per year tax-free stipend. Students who pay international tuition fees are eligible to apply, but should note that the award will only provide payment for part of the international tuition fee and no stipend.

The studentship will be awarded on the basis of merit for 3.5 years of full-time study to commence in September 2019.

Funding Notes

This award provides annual funding to cover UK/EU tuition fees and a tax-free stipend. For students who pay UK/EU tuition fees the award will cover the tuition fees in full, plus at least £15,009 per year tax-free stipend. Students who pay international tuition fees are eligible to apply, but should note that the award will only provide payment for part of the international tuition fee and no stipend.



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