PhD positions

2nd December 2014

*NEW* BBSRC PhD position. Closing date Sunday 21 December 2014.

“From pests to paradise: control and conservation of molluscan biodiversity”.

Snails and slugs are a major crop pest, with a few introduced species causing worldwide problems. Yet, they are difficult to identify and we have little idea of how this biodiversity has come about, hindering appropriate control and conservation efforts. This project will use next generation sequencing methods to investigate the evolution and speciation of snails, especially with respect to characters under natural selection (e.g. shell colour and banding), and including methods that may help identify invasive or cryptic species, or species of conservation concern. Building upon the work of a recent BBSRC-funded PhD student (Richards et al 2013), who investigated the diversity within colour polymorphic Cepaea, this new project will investigate the degree of parallelism and convergence between Cepaea and other species. Ultimately, the precise project will be determined by the interests of the student, but the overall aim is that he/she will begin to determine if the same modes of speciation and evolution are involved in widely divergent species. The conclusions will have implications for both control and conservation of molluscan biodiversity.

Although much of the work will be lab-based, with a related bioinformatics element, field collection will be a necessary component, including probable work in East Asia or the Caribbean region.

The closing date for applications for this fully funded scheme is Sunday 21 December 2014. It is advisable to make an informal enquiry with Dr Angus Davison ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) prior to making a formal application. Official announcement here; apply online here.

Successful candidates will be offered four years PhD training. Part of the first year will consist of lab rotations, with the remaining time focused on the main research project. Funding requirements mean that the project is advertised under the “Agricultural and Food Security” banner. Funding available to UK residents (fees + stipend) and EU citizens (fees only).

Note that while this position is only open to UK/EU students, I am always interested to hear from keen graduate students, as sometimes other sources of funding become available at short notice, or are available on application to competitive sources of funding (e.g. Conacyt, EU, Marie Curie).Ordinarily, the precise project depends upon the interests of the student and the state-of-play when the student begins their research.

Some further details of School projects are available on


I am always open to enquries from potential postdocs, particularly those wishing to develop their own projects. Various sources of funding are available, all with their own particular rules, including Marie Curie fellowships, Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) postdocs, Newton fellowships, Human Frontiers in Science (HFS) awards, to name a few. Otherwise, open postdoctoral positions will normally be advertised on email lists, such as Evoldir.

MRes and Msci

The School of Biology runs two separate Masters Courses, a Master of Research (MRes) that is aimed at external students wishing to undertake a year long project in one of our research laboratories, and an Master of Science (MSci) that is only open to internal undergraduates.

I am able to offer MRes courses in a wide variety of subjects, including but not limited to Population and Evolutionary Genetics, Developmental Biology, Ecology and Animal Behaviour. Contact me for further information.

If you are a third year undergraduate at Nottingham, and are considering my lab for your fourth year MSci research project, but not certain what we do, then I would encourage you to to contact me in advance. Previous titles have been: Molecular genetics of left-right asymmetry; Evolution of colour polymorphism; The causes of behavioural handedness in snails; Are ‘mirror image’ snails perfect mirror images?; Imaging ‘Sex and darts in slugs and snails’ – (‘Photography and imaging’ module a requirement). Some of these projects have led to publications, including undergraduate authorship - see Publications page.

Ordinarily, the projects that I have offer are open to development/input by the student. For example, 2011-12 we hosted three Msci and one MRes students, two working on Evolutionary Molecular Genetics, one on Evo-Devo and another on Animal Behaviour.