PhD Studentship in Computational / Mathematical Biology: Evolutionary ecology of malaria virulence

About the award

Location: Cornwall Campus, University of Exeter, EX4 4QJ

Primary supervisor: Dr Mario Recker, University of Exeter

Infection with the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum can cause severe and sometimes fatal disease, leading to nearly one million deaths each year. More often, however, it causes self-limited or symptomless carriage. Classical evolutionary theory suggests that a disease-causing microbe should evolve to exhibit a level of virulence – the propensity to harm its host – that optimises its transmission success between individuals. The broad spectrum of virulence associated with infection by the malaria parasite is not easily reconciled with this theory, however. The aim of this project is to understand the evolution of malaria virulence within the context of phenotypic plasticity on multiple biological scales, linking single molecular interactions to the ecology of an individual infection and ultimately parasite fitness at a population level.

For informal enquiries contact Dr Mario Recker at

Application Criteria Applicants should have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in a relevant subject, such as mathematics or physics. Applicants with a background in biology and strong interest / experience in theoretical / computational work will also be considered. Experience of a programming language (e.g. C/C++) and/or standard mathematical software (e.g. Matlab, R) would be advantageous.


Funded by: College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences
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–> Application deadline: 6th October 2013

Number of awards: 1 Value: 3 year studentship: Tuition fees [UK/EU/International] and an annual maintenance allowance at current research council rate Duration of award: per year Contact: Ms Liz Roberts

To apply, you must complete the online web form. You will be asked to submit some personal details and upload a full CV, covering letter and details of two academic referees. Your covering letter should outline your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to undertake this project.

For general enquiries please contact Liz Roberts at

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