The Challenge of Monitoring Biodiversity

Tue, 04 Aug 2015 14:12:04 +0000

a guest blog by Charlie Outhwaite, written for the 2015 Write About Research Competition. Biological diversity, or biodiversity, is a complex term encompassing the variety of life found on Earth. It incorporates not only differences between species but within species themselves and of the environments and ecosystems where they are found. We as humans benefit […]

The post The Challenge of Monitoring Biodiversity appeared first on GEE Research.


PhD Opportunities

PhD opportunities are regularly updated on this section of the website. Our department hosts students participating in a number of doctoral training programmes funded by research councils. These programmes as well as other funded opportunities are advertised in this space when applications are open. Interested candidates could also make informal enquiries with individual members of the academic staff throughout the year to express their interest and enquire about potential opportunities for postgraduate research.

BBSRC London Interdisciplinary Biosciences PhD Consortium

GEE is a centre of excellence for interdisciplinary bioscience research. Our department is part of the BBSRC London Interdisciplinary Doctoral Programme (LIDo) and offers an outstanding environment for PhD research. Applications for the 2016 PhD intake are now Open. Closing date 22 January 2016.

BBSRC aniversary logo

The BBSRC London Interdisciplinary Biosciences PhD Consortium brings together six of the world’s leading academic institutions. The programme covers all levels of biology, from molecules through to cells and whole animal physiology. We are looking for students who are interested in using approaches from different disciplines and scientific areas to address cutting-edge biological problems. This programme is aimed at graduates with a strong interest in multi-disciplinary research. Applications are invited from students with a background in biological, physical, computational, engineering or mathematical sciences.

See details of illustrative projects offered from GEE supervisors.

For more information about the programme and the application process visit the BBSRC London Interdisciplinary Biosciences PhD Consortium

London NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

GEE is a centre of excellence for environmental science research. GEE offers an outstanding environment for NERC-funded PhD training. Applications for the 2015 PhD intake through the London NERC Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) are now closed. The London NERC DTP recruits new PhD students annually.
Invitations for applications will be advertised here when open.


The NERC DTP brings together nine of the world’s leading research centres in environmental science. The program adopted an integrated approach to training environmental scientists in ways that cross the boundaries between established disciplines and will train 120 new environmental scientists over the next five years. As well as advanced research training students will receive training in the essential professional and transferable skills needed in today’s society. 

In total the Partnership is offering up to 34 fully funded PhD studentships in the following research themes:

  • Biodiversity, Evolution and Ecology;
  • Earth Dynamics;
  • Environmental Pollution;
  • Natural and Biological Hazards;
  • Past Life and Environments;
  • and the multi-disciplinary Earth-Life System Integration

Details of illustrative projects offered from GEE supervisors.

For details of the application process visit the London NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

CoMPLEX MRes+PhD in Modelling Biological Complexity

The Centre for Mathematics and Physics in the Life Sciences and Experimental Biology, CoMPLEX, runs a Doctoral training programme “Modelling Biological Complexity”. This is funded by major grants from the EPSRC and BHF, with additional funding from MRC, BBSRC, NERC, CRUK and UCL. The programme recruits around 15 home and European and Overseas students each year. Training consists of a first MRes year with taught modules and shorter research projects, followed by three years of PhD. All places have funding for fees and stipend.

UCL Research Scholarships available in Biological Sciences

The Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment (GEE) invites applications from outstanding students for UCL Graduate Research Scholarships and Overseas Research Scholarships.

GEE is a vibrant research department in a central London location. Our department brings together scientists with shared interests in genetics, bioinformatics, evolution and biodiversity. We use integrative approaches to understand biological systems from theoretical, molecular and systems perspectives.

Candidates should contact a potential supervisor to discuss projects.

Within the department PhD opportunities are in these areas:

  • Biodiversity & Environmental Biology
  • Biology of Ageing
  • Computational Biology
  • Evolutionary Genetics
  • Evolution & Development
  • Human Genetics & Human Evolution
  • Systems Biology
Candidates, from any country, with an excellent background in a relevant science (first or high upper second class BSc degree, minimum) are invited to apply. Full details (including downloadable application form & guidance documents) at:

UK & EU Students
International Students

GEE can nominate two applicants to be considered for UCL's Research Scholarships schemes.

How to Apply

Applications to be sent to: Dr Julia Day or Dr Lazaros Foukas Department of Genetics, Evolution & Environment
, University College London, 
Darwin Building, 
Gower Street,
 London WC1E 6BT


Wednesday 6 January 2016

Fully-funded 4-year PhD studentship on morphological evolution and modularity in tetrapods

Project Description:
Morphological variation is the foundation of evolutionary theory, but the basic influences on morphological variation are still poorly understood.  Developmental interactions are often discussed as a major control on variation, but direct analysis of this hypothesis has been hindered by the lack of quantitative comparative data.  Similarly, robust analyses analysing both extrinsic and intrinsic influences on morphological evolution are often limited by data availability.

Using advanced biological imaging techniques (CT- and laser scanning) combined with surface-based 3-D morphometrics, this study will build on existing work in mammals by providing the first broad comparative data on modularity and disparity of skulls, jaws and limbs for living and fossil tetrapods.  The PhD studentship will focus on one of the major non-mammalian clades, such as lissamphibians or reptiles, clades with incredible diversity in reproductive strategies, ecology and morphology.  This project will require extensive international travel for data collection, as well as running analyses and possibly writing new code in R. In combination with existing data from an ontogenetic sequence of Xenopus, and juvenile and adult neontological and paleontological specimens of mammals, this project will produce a robust analysis of the relationships among modularity, morphological disparity, evolutionary rates and how each of these responds to major life history and ecological transitions as well as large-scale btic and environmental events. 

In addition to training in biological imaging and quantitative analyses, there will be opportunities for international palaeontological fieldwork during the course of this project.

Details of how to apply can be found on

Goswami Lab Website

Fully funded 4-year NERC PhD Studentship on Testing a mechanistic general model of global ecosystems: improving prediction by increasing simplicity

Qualification type: PhD
Location: University College London
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: Approximately £15,000 annual tax-free stipend (for 48months)
Hours: Full Time
Proposed start date: October 2015
Closing date for applications:  Friday 27 February 2015.

We may invite potentially suitable candidates for interview at any stage during this process.

Project outline:

The Madingley Model is the first mechanistic general ecosystem model of ecosystem function and structure that is both global and applies to marine and terrestrial environments1. It starts from microscopic events (births, deaths) and processes (metabolic rates) at the scale of the individual and scales up to dynamic and patterns at the macroscopic (ecosystem) scale. The current model makes a number of predictions that seem to match empirical patterns, eg inverted biomass pyramid for marine ecosystems; body size -growth rates of individuals, but others (eg heterotroph mortality) appear to fit less well.

The Madingley Model was conceived as a tool to simulate (predict) the impact of major disturbances (eg climate change, biological invasions) on biodiversity and ecosystem function. It is therefore important that the model is able to reproduce the patterns we observe in natural systems, but also that it does so with the minimum information required. This PhD will investigate whether there are functionally redundant processes and patterns in the current model, by analysing the sensitivity of the results (ecological patterns) from the current model to removal of components that relate to different biological processes. Subsequently, processes such as intelligent animal behaviour will be incorporated to consider whether there are key biological processes that are currently missing. Analyses will be based on computer simulations but there is also potential for mathematical analyses of sub-models in isolation.

The project will be based at University College London, but the student is expected to spend two placement periods working in Microsoft Research UK (Cambridge), where the Madingley Model was first developed.

Supervisory team:

Dr David Murrell (UCL)
Prof. Georgina Mace (UCL)
Dr Drew Purves (Microsoft Research UK)


In addition to a passion for understanding ecological and ecosystem dynamics, the successful candidate will be expected to have some or all of the following skills: computer programming (especially C/C++ or Java); mathematical modelling; statistical modelling.


Citizens of an EU member state (excluding the UK) will be eligible for a fees-only award. UK residents will be eligible for fees and stipend. Minimum qualification requirements are an upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a subject that has a strong emphasis on ecology and/or mathematical/computer modelling.

How to apply:

To apply, please send the following documents as single PDF by email to Dr David Murrell:

  • a covering letter highlighting your reasons for applying and your suitability for this studentship
  • a copy of your CV
  • the names and contact details of 2-3 referees

NB This is not a Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) project, meaning this project has already received funding.

Page last modified on 27 mar 14 15:36