PhD Studentship A Multi-scale Mathematical Model of Crop Growth

Applications are sought for a 3.5 year funded PhD studentship to develop a multi-scale mathematical model of crop development (from the plant to the crop scale) which incorporates the effect of physiological variation at the plant level scale. Utilising Bambara groundnut (an underutilised African legume) as the model plant system, the developed mathematical model will allow the effect of competition between planted crops (e.g. canopy structure, planting density, planting arrangement) on the overall crop yield to be understood. From this optimised traits and ideotypes will be developed to reduce these competition effects and optimise yield. The work will lead to the development of a generic framework for understanding plant-to-crop scale dynamics which can later be used for other crop species.

The studentship will be undertaken in a multi-disciplinary multi-centre environment under the primary direction of Dr Marcus Tindall (Mathematical Biology Group, Department of Mathematics & Statistics, University of Reading) in collaboration with Assoc. Prof Sean Mayes (main experimental lead) at the School of Biosciences, University of Nottingham (Sutton Bonington Campus) and the Crops for the Future Research Centre (CFFRC), Malaysia. Whilst primarily based in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics at Reading it is envisaged the successful candidate will visit Nottingham up to 3 or 4 times each year (for periods no greater than a week) in order to discuss project progress and interact with experimental colleagues based there. Visits of up to one week duration involving members of CFFRC will take place in the latter years of the studentship.

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Applicants should possess at least a 2.1 degree with a strong mathematical background. Good experience of computer programming is highly desirable. The mathematical modelling work will involve developing nonlinear ordinary differential (ODE) models of individual plant growth and development, which will be informed using parameter estimates from our own data on Bambara groundnut and the literature. On the crop scale, individual plants will be modelled as agents using an agent based approach. The developed mathematical models will be solved using appropriate numerical packages (e.g. Matlab). Mathematical analysis will involve dynamical systems theory and asymptotic perturbation methods.

The project is kindly supported by funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and CFFRC. The successful applicant will receive a stipend of £13,590 per annum (fees included) and must meet the standard rules on EPSRC eligibility for studentships which can be viewed at

Applications can be made at and applicants should clearly mark “A Multi-scale Mathematical Model of Crop Growth” in the project title field. Applications will close Friday April 19th and interviews will be held sometime in early May.

For further details on the project please contact Dr Marcus Tindall at

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