SUPERVISOR: Dr Bryan Grenfell, Zoology Department, Cambridge University.
PROJECT TITLE: Determinants of variability in host-parasite population dynamics.
BACKGROUND AND AIMS
Identifying the sources and impact of variability has been a key issue in the study of host-parasite population dynamics. However, much still needs to be learned about what determines the relative influence of environmental and demographic variability on the dynamics and persistence of hosts and parasites and how this balance varies with both host and parasite population size.
The project addresses this question for both microparasitic viral infections and macroparasitic helminth worms. The microparasite case study will be the spatio-temporal dynamics of measles, where the main sources of variability are the size and degree of inter-connection of human host communities and spatio-temporal variations in birth rate and vaccination rate. For macroparasites, the student will begin with a study of comparative patterns of parasite aggregation in domestic and wild animal hosts; here, host heterogeneities in immunocompetence and exposure to parasites appear to drive much of the observed variability, except at low parasite abundance.
The project will use a combination of mathematical modelling, statistical analysis of ecological data bases and (optionally) epidemiological field work. We already have access to much of the data required for the analysis.
The student will be trained in ecological and epidemiological modelling and data analysis and the biology of host-parasite interactions. SUITABILITY
A background in either mathematics/statistics/physical science or in ecology/parasitiology would be suitable. The studentship would provide an excellent basis for a career in theoretical biology.
Please contact: Dr Bryan Grenfell, firstname.lastname@example.org, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EJ, UK. Tel/Fax: +44 (0)1223 334466, with a cv and the names and (preferably email) addresses of two referees.
The Scheme has funding to support a PhD student in Mathematics. There is a strong research group in Mathematics at Surrey and the main area of interest is Nonlinear Dynamics with many aspects of this broad subject covered by different members of the group. Further details on the research activity of the group can be found at http://www.mcs.surrey.ac.uk/Research/.
Students who are interested in starting postgraduate study in one of the areas listed below in October 1998 are invited to apply for support. Enquiries about the Scheme can be made to Dr P.J. Aston (tel: 01483-300800 extension 2631, email: P.Aston@mcs.surrey.ac.uk). An application form together with a list of possible projects can be obtained from the Postgraduate Secretary, Dept of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Surrey, Guildford GU2 5XH (tel: 01483-259631, email: email@example.com). The closing date for applications is 1 May 1998. Applicants should be eligible for an EPSRC award.
Areas of interest include the following: