Subject areas: microbiology, soft matter, active matter, materials science.

Supervisors: Dr Giorgio Volpe (UCL), Dr Lena Ciric (UCL)

Application deadline: Applications will be accepted until 10 July 2020 but the position will be filled as soon as an appropriate candidate is found.

Start Date: 28 September 2020

Location: UCL, London

Funding Note: The studentship is available to UK nationals and EU (non-UK) nationals

The Studentship

We have secured funding for a 4-year full-time PhD studentship from the EPSRC Doctoral Training Programme. It Is now well known that bacterial species exchange genetic material by horizontal gene transfer of mobile genetic elements such as plasmids and transposons, which often carry antibiotic resistance genes. What is not known is the impact that environmental factors, such as surface topography, might have on influencing the rates of transfer. We will select resistant donor and non-resistant recipient strains and carry out mating experiments in microhabitats of controlled surface topography developed using soft-lithography techniques. We will also investigate other factors such as spatial patchiness, flows as well as distribution of nutrients and antibiotics. Using optical microscopy, we will be able to monitor rates of transfer in fluorescently labelled bacterial strains.

The Candidate

We are looking for an enthusiastic and curious individual with a background in life and/or physical sciences. The successful applicant should have or expect to achieve at least a 2.1 honours or equivalent for undergraduate degree in Biology, Microbiology, Physics, Chemistry, Materials Science or a related discipline. Some experience of molecular biology methods, data analysis and coding would be desirable, though not essential. You will be part of two vibrant laboratories and will need to work well with the rest of the team. You will also be expected to demonstrate strong interest and self-motivation in the subject, work independently, think analytically and creatively, and come up with your own research questions. Good computer skills, plus good presentation and writing skills in English, are required. Previous research experience in contributing to a collaborative interdisciplinary research environment is highly desirable but not necessary as training will be provided.

Applicants should send a covering letter, CV and contact information for 2 referees to Dr Lena Ciric () and Dr Giorgio Volpe ().

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