PhD fellowship in mathematical population biology

Imperial College London
Job Description: 

Synchrony in marine plankton metapopulations and the effects of climate

A PhD studentship will be available from Autumn 2011 to research metapopulation synchrony primarily in marine plankton, in the laboratory of Dr Daniel Reuman. The post will be funded as part of a Natural Environment Research Council grant to Dr. Reuman. The post will be based in the Division of Biology at Silwood Park, Department of Biology, Imperial College London, and will be co-supervised by Prof Chris Reid of the Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science (SAHFOS) and the University of Plymouth.

Dr Reuman runs an interdisciplinary lab applying mathematics, statistics, and computing to biological problems. He welcomes mathematical/physical scientists with strong interest in biological applications even if they may have no or little prior experience with biology.

Populations of the same species in locations hundreds of kilometers apart often fluctuate partly in unison, a phenomenon called synchrony. For instance, British aphid species outbreak 80% in synchrony over short distances and 50% in synchrony over distances of 200km. Synchrony is widespread, and has been detected in birds, lemmings, fish such as cod, human pathogens such as measles, amphibians, and numerous other species. Many species exhibiting synchrony are of major conservation, economic, or health importance.
Past research approaches to synchrony in terrestrial and marine plankton systems have differed markedly, providing excellent opportunities for cross-fertilization of research ideas. In addition, past statistical approaches to synchrony have been limited in a way that recent methodological ideas of the supervisors can fix to extract more information about how any why populations exhibit synchrony. The student’s work will sit at a crossroads of terrestrial and marine ideas about synchrony and will seek to unify the disparate approaches. The project is part of a larger NERC grant entitled “Synchrony in metapopulations at multiple time scales: theory experiments, and field data,” and hence the student will have the opportunity to cross traditional ecosystem and methodological boundaries and collaborate widely with project personnel in the UK and USA while simultaneously developing a foundation of expertise in marine systems and mathematical analysis of those systems.
The research will make use of the Continuous Plankton Recorder dataset held at SAHFOS, a multi-decadal, multispecies dataset that far surpasses in extent other datasets of the same kind. Joint supervision by a theoretical biologist at a university with quantitative strength and a marine biologist with over 40 years experience will provide an excellent platform from which the student can launch a career in cutting edge interdisciplinary research.
This is a 3+ year fully funded full-time position primarily in the laboratory of Dr. Daniel Reuman at Imperial College London, with salary at least at the NERC guidelines with London allowance plus a CASE partner contribution. Some time will be spent at SAHFOS in Plymouth. Start date is Autumn 2011, precise date to be determined.

For more information or informal inquiries please contact Dr Reuman ( Application details are at The deadline is 25 March 2011. Shortlisted applicants will be contacted soon thereafter. The post, start date, and interviews are subject to change if NERC funding is modified or delayed.

Job Categories: 
Universities and colleges
Research institutes
Graduate student fellowships
Deadline for Application: 
Mar 25 2011