University of Exeter funding: Medical Research Foundation Nationa

Antimicrobial Resistance Research: Linking Restoration of Natural Capital to Reduction in Selection for and Dissemination of AMR in Aquatic Systems Ref: 3457

About the award


Main supervisor: Prof William Gaze, The European Centre for Environment and Human Health, The University of Exeter Medical School, Environment and Sustainability Institute, Penryn Campus, Penryn, Cornwall 
Co-supervisor: Dr Andrew Singer, NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford Oxford

Host institution: University of Exeter Penryn Campus, Penryn, Cornwall

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a global threat in terms of health, economic and societal outcomes. Resistance to drugs used to treat bacterial infections is increasing rapidly and there is growing emphasis on the importance of the environment in the evolution and transmission of AMR bacteria with the majority of common resistant infections being community acquired (ie. outside healthcare settings). This project will focus on the role of environmental pollution in driving selection for and spread of AMR bacteria and how restoration of natural capital (the worlds natural assets that provide ecosystem services to humans) will reduce economic and health risks to society. Wastewater treatment plant effluents and run-off from agricultural land are known to contribute to spread of AMR, however the relative contributions of humans and animals to environmental reservoirs is poorly understood as is the efficacy of interventions to reduce pharmaceutical and bacterial pollution. Professor Gaze recently wrote a report for the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment, Frontiers 2017 which highlighted AMR pollution as one of the greatest environmental threats of our time. The student will receive training in molecular microbiology, evolutionary biology, ecology, pollution science, economic theory in valuing natural capital relating to its role in reducing spread of AMR and translating science into policy. The research environment at Exeter and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology is world leading in the environmental dimension of AMR and the project will emphasise interdisciplinary approaches and transferable skills necessary for a wide variety of career paths.

Potential applicants wishing further information are encouraged to contact Professor William Gaze at

Benefits of joining the Medical Research Foundation National PhD Training Programme in AMR Research.

• All PhD projects will be based within interdisciplinary research consortia funded by the UKRI Cross-Council
  AMR Initiative
• All students will have access to enhanced training opportunities including residential skills and training 
  courses, cohort-building activities, and annual conferences. All are designed to expose students to a range of
  discipline-specific languages and interdisciplinary research skills, which are essential for enabling them to
  thrive as multidisciplinary AMR researchers.
• PhD students will undertake a fully-funded 3-month interdisciplinary AMR project allowing them to work outside
  of their primary research area or an elective placement in industry, publishing, media, policy development or in
  AMR-relevant charities and organisations.    
• All Medical Research Foundation-funded PhD students will also be part of a wider cohort of 150 PhD students
  from across the UK who are also studying AMR. The cohort will have access to a bespoke, innovative online
  learning environment, which will facilitate peer-to-peer networking, question setting and mentoring. 

Further information can be found on our website:

Funding Notes

This is 4 year fully-funded PhD studentship funded jointly by the Medical Research Foundation National PhD Training Programme in AMR (led from the University of Bristol) and the University of Exeter. 

  • Stipend at MRC ’plus’ rate £17,000 (2019-20)
  • Tuition fees
  • Yearly travel allowance
  • Research costs
  • Interdisciplinary 3-month research project/placement allowance


Entry requirements

Applicants must have obtained, or be about to obtain, at least a 2.1 honours degree (or at least the equivalent of an Upper Second Class Honours Degree from a UK university) in a relevant subject.   You also need to satisfy our English language entry requirements.

Applicants must ensure that they meet the eligibility requirements of the University of Exeter. To qualify for ‘home’ tuition fee status, you must be a UK or EU citizen who has been resident for 3 years prior to commencement. Please note that overseas students not eligible for ‘home’ (UK/EU/EEA citizens) tuition fee status will be eligible for funding through this Programme but the student must pay the difference between the annual ‘home’ tuition fee and the tuition fees required for ‘overseas’ students.

How to apply

In order to apply, please click on the 'Apply Now' button above.  As part of the application process you will be required to submit some personal details and upload the following documents by 11.59pm on the 31 March 2019.

Required Documents
• A detailed CV
• Covering letter - outlining your academic interests, any prior research experience and reasons for wishing to
  do PhD in the context of the advertised project and National Training Programme in AMR.
• Transcript of your highest qualification to date or an interim transcript if you are still studying
• IELTS/TOEFL certificate - where applicable

• 2 academic references

Reference information
It is your responsibility to ensure that your referees email their references to, as we will not make requests for references directly; you must arrange for them to be submitted by Date to be added here. Please note that applications with missing documentation will not progress to shortlisting.

References should be in the form of a letter. Referees must email their references to us from their institutional email accounts. We cannot accept references from personal/private email accounts, unless it is a scanned document on institutional headed paper and signed by the referee.

Please quote reference 3457 on your application and in any correspondence about this studentship.


Application deadline:31st March 2019
Value:4 year studentship: UK/EU tuition fees and an MRC 'Plus' rate of stipend of £17,000 (2019/20)
Duration of award:per year
Contact: PGR Enquiries Team