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PhD Opportunities

This lists details the PhD projects that we are aware of. They are by no means exhaustive and the institutions listed, and others, may well be offering additional projects. Further details for many of these projects are already available on institutional websites. Note that application deadlines can be as early as January, and interviews usually take place during the period January-April.

To add a PhD opportunity please use our online form: Add a PhD Opportunity.

Notices with expiry dates before this date are not shown.
You may filter by the project funding statues.
Institution: University of Manchester
Supervisor(s): Dr Russell J. Garwood (University of Manchester), Dr Robert S. Sansom (University of Manchester), Dr Mark D. Sutton (Imperial College)
Funding Status: Funding is in competition with other projects and students
Description: Macroevolution occurs over time spans of millions of years. Two approaches can be taken in identifying and understanding macroevolutionary patterns and processes - empirical and theoretical. For example, the mode and tempo of evolutionary change can be investigated using phylogenies of living and extinct species, and through computer simulations replicating evolution in digital organisms/species [1,2]. These contrasting approaches are complementary, but each has limitations: empirical data contain biases (fossilisation, for example), whilst by necessity simulations are highly simplified. More information...
Expiry Date: Thursday, January 30, 2020
Institution: Imperial College London
Supervisor(s): Dr Gareth Roberts (Imperial College London), Dr Mark Sutton (Imperial College London), Dr Philip Mannion (University College London), Dr Jan Hackel (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew)
Funding Status: Funding is in competition with other projects and students
Description: In this project, new computational tools will be developed and applied to understand what drives evolution of life and landscapes on Earth. We will examine how biodiversity is generated and how it relates to the evolution of topography. A key question we will address is: To what extent does topography (and its history) drive terrestrial biodiversity? More information...
Expiry Date: Friday, January 31, 2020
Institution: University of Bristol
Supervisor(s): Professor Philip Donoghue (University of Bristol), Professor Davide Pisani (University of Bristol), Dr Tom Williams (University of Bristol), Professor Tim Lenton (University of Exeter)
Funding Status: Funding is in competition with other projects and students
Description: The molecular clock provides the only viable means of establishing evolutionary timescales and measuring rates of molecular evolution. It works by calibrating molecular evolution to time, usually based on fossil evidence that constrains the ages of one or more clades present in a molecular phylogeny. More information...
Expiry Date: Friday, January 31, 2020
Institution: University of Bristol
Supervisor(s): Professor Philip Donoghue (University of Bristol), Dr Zerina Johanson (The Natural History Museum), Dr Humberto Ferron (University of Bristol), Dr Gareth Fraser (University of Florida), Professor Davide Pisani (University of Bristol), Professor Emily Rayfield (University of Bristol)
Funding Status: Funding is in competition with other projects and students
Description: Teeth constitute at once a key innovation that underpinned the evolutionary and ecological diversification of jawed vertebrates – and a model system for understanding the general principles of organ development – so why do we know so little of their evolutionary origin? The earliest jawed vertebrates already bore a toothy grin and so we must look to their jawless relatives for the answer. A number of lineages of extinct jawless vertebrates possessed toothlike structures but almost nothing is known of their composition, development and function. More information...
Expiry Date: Friday, January 31, 2020
Institution: University College London
Supervisor(s): Dr Philip Mannion (University College London), Prof. Paul Upchurch (University College London), Dr Susannah Maidment (Natural History Museum, London)
Funding Status: Funding is in competition with other projects and students
Description: Dinosaurs first appeared approximately 230 million years ago (Ma) and rapidly became globally distributed. Although the continents were still joined early in dinosaurian evolutionary history, Pangaean fragmentation led to their increasing separation. Determining the impact of Pangaean fragmentation on the distribution of life, in terms of the geographic separation and dispersal of species, is one of the central goals of biogeography, but fierce debate and uncertainty plagues this field. More information...
Expiry Date: Friday, January 31, 2020
Institution: University College London
Supervisor(s): Dr Philip Mannion (University College London), Dr Erin Saupe (University of Oxford)
Funding Status: Funding is in competition with other projects and students
Description: Living crocodylians (crocodiles, alligators, caimans, gharials) have low morphological diversity and are restricted to the tropics. As ectotherms, they are environmentally sensitive, and almost 50% of modern species are at high extinction risk. Although ecological models can predict the distributional response of species to environmental changes, only the fossil record provides empirical evidence of the long-term interactions between climate and biodiversity. More information...
Expiry Date: Friday, January 31, 2020
Institution: University of Tartu
Supervisor(s): Prof. Toomas Tammaru (University of Tartu) & Dr. John Clarke (Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń). Options to collaborate with Sebastian Höhna (LMU Munich) and Niklas Wahlberg (Lund University).
Funding Status: Funding is in competition with other projects and students
Description: We are looking for a PhD student to perform part of a larger, lab wide project entitled: “Comparative studies on insects: a focus on body size" financed by Estonian Research Council (2020-2024) and carried out at Estonia’s leading research centre: the University of Tartu (https://www.ut.ee/en). The lab wide project focuses on reconstructing moth phylogenies on the basis of DNA sequences and performing various analyses of trait evolution on the basis of these novel phylogenies. More information...
Expiry Date: Monday, February 17, 2020
Institution: Durham University
Supervisor(s): Dr Martin R. Smith (Durham University)
Funding Status: Funding is in place for this project
Description: In the opening chapters of the Phanerozoic æon, the principal members of the cast belong to Superphylum Ecdysozoa. The ecdysozoan fossil record comprises complex burrows, mineralized and carbonaceous cuticular elements, exceptionally preserved soft-bodied compression fossils, and phosphatized microfossils of complete, often juvenile, individuals. The meaning of this fossil record is made difficult to decipher by the ambiguous position of these vermiform taxa on the tree of life. More information...
Expiry Date: Friday, February 28, 2020
Institution: University of Leicester
Supervisor(s): Professor Mark Purnell, University of Leicester, mark.purnell@le.ac.uk; Professor Sarah Gabbott, University of Leicester; Dr. Thomas Clements, University of Birmingham; Dr Neil Davies, Cambridge University; Dr Alex Liu, Cambridge University
Funding Status: Funding is in competition with other projects and students
Description: Project Highlights: Use state of the art instruments and quantitative approaches to address significant problems in taphonomy, exceptional preservation, and early animal origins Develop a range of skills in experimentation and analysis, applied to paleobiology Join a dynamic multidisciplinary group working across the interface of geology, palaeobiology and surface metrology (engineering) More information...
Expiry Date: Tuesday, March 10, 2020
Institution: University of Birmigham
Supervisor(s): Dr Sam Giles (University of Birmingham), Dr Thomas Clements (University of Birmingham), Dr Zerina Johanson (Natural History Museum), Dr Ivan Sansom (University of Birmingham)
Funding Status: Funding is in competition with other projects and students
Description: Ray-finned fishes account for over half of living vertebrates and have a nearly half-a-billion year evolutionary history, surviving and flourishing in the wake of several mass extinctions Despite thousands of exceptionally preserved fossils, the impact of the Permo-Triassic Mass Extinction on ray-finned fish evolution is particularly poorly constrained More information...
Expiry Date: Thursday, March 19, 2020

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