PhD postions

NPIF Funded PhD position at the Univerity of Sheffield, APS

Monitoring and modelling the parasitic weed Striga in Africa


Lead Supervisor: Prof Rob Freckleton, Animal and Plant Sciences, Univerity of Sheffield;

Co-Supervisors:  Dr Dylan Childs, APS, Sheffield; Prof Julie Scholes, APS, Sheffield; Prof Lyudmila MihaylovaProfessor Sandor M. Veres

Deadline for applications is 27 June 2018

Apply here

Project Description
Technologies for rapid acquisition and analysis of data on the occurrence of pests and diseases offer the potential to revolutionise global agriculture. In this project, we will use the latest tools for collecting data alongside cutting-edge data science to help manage a major weed that threatens crop production and livelihoods across Africa.

Our research has developed techniques for monitoring and modelling pest populations at large-scales, and we use such data for predicting future infestations. Initially based on ecological monitoring techniques, we now use drone and satellite data for large-scale acquisition of data on populations of weeds.

In this project we will apply these approaches to the weed Striga (‘witchweed’) which infests over 40% of rice and maize crops across Africa, affecting over 100 million people. We propose to address three significant problems:

(1) Monitoring: we will develop a pipeline that integrates several methods for data collection, including surveys, citizen science, UAVs and satellite imagery.

(2) Models: forecast infestations in the future under alternative management.

(3) Communication: integrate analysis and outputs into a platform that can be used to map current distributions, as well as to forecast future infestations.

Desirable skills include a selection from ecological monitoring, experience with drones, statistics and programming.

Funding Notes
This studentship is a part of the NERC – National Productivity Investment Fund Studentships awarded to ACCE DTP.
It is fully funded for four years, and the award covers: (i) a tax-free stipend at the standard Research Council rate (£14,777 per annum for 2018-2019), (ii) research costs (RTSG), and (iii) tuition fees at the UK/EU rate. The studentship is available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements.

Selection and shortlisting
Shortlisting will take place as soon as possible after the closing date, and successful applicants will be notified promptly. Shortlisted applicants will be invited for an interview to take place at the University of Sheffield the w/c 2nd July 2018.

Starting date of the studentship will be 1 Oct 2018.