College of Life and Environmental Sciences

Our College of Life and Environmental Sciences addresses key challenges affecting human and animal health and wellbeing, and environmental changes. This requires technological innovations, sophisticated understandings of individual behaviour, individual and collective adaptations, and how these are set within broader, and often complex, systems (e.g., groups, societies, regulatory frameworks), as well as sensitivity to the possibilities (and problematics) of new forms of data and data-analytics.

Life and Environmental Sciences brings together expertise in Bioscience, Psychology, Geography and Sport and Health Science. Our PhD and research degrees allow for supervision across a broad range of specialist fields within and across our core disciplines. Interdisciplinary research with subjects offered elsewhere within the University may also be feasible.

The projects below are self-funded and therefore applicants will need to find external funding sources to cover tuition fees, living expenses’ and research costs (bench fees) associated with the project.

 

Important Information

The projects available below are self-funded, therefore applicants will need to pay their own fees and living costs or have access to suitable third party funding such as a Doctoral loan or other sponsor. In addition to the University’s standard tuitions fees, bench fees (research costs) may also be applied, details of which will be shown if appropriate to the project.

You are encouraged to contact the named supervisor to discuss the project opportunity prior to submitting an application.

*****

Biological Sciences, Streatham campus, Exeter

Programme: MbyRes (2 years max FT)

Project Title: Genome evolution and epidemiology of hospital-acquired Candida infections in Scotland

Project Description: Fungal pathogens pose an increasing threat to human health, responsible for at least a million deaths per year. Candida albicans, which is both a ubiquitous commensal yeast of the human gastrointestinal tract and a prevalent opportunistic pathogen, remains the most common cause of invasive candidiasis in Latin America, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle-East. Recent whole-genome based phylogenetic study has identified at least 17 distinct genetic clusters/clades, with a predominantly clonal population structure. Little is currently known about its global population structure, or indeed how extant strains reflect their evolutionary history – although it is thought to have emerged 3-16 million years ago – coinciding with early hominid evolution. In this project, we will gain unparalleled insights into the fine-scale population structure of C. albicans by focusing on clinical isolates across Scotland, and combining that with publicly available global genomic datasets. Establishing transmission events and the distribution and sharing of important gene variants will be essential for devising new policies to decrease the incidence of invasive candidiasis.

Additional Project costs: £2,500

Supervisors: Dr. Rhys Farrer, Dr. Duncan Wilson
Contact email: r.farrer@exeter.ac.uk

*****

Biological Sciences, Streatham campus, Exeter

Programme: MbyRes or PhD

Project Title: Synuclein plasticity: The Achilles heel of nerve function linked to the onset of Parkinson’s disease

Project Description: Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative condition affecting 1 in 500 people worldwide. The aggregation to form fibrils of the protein alpha-Synuclein (aSyn) is strongly implicated in PD pathogenesis. aSyn is a highly dynamic, intrinsically disordered protein and its structural plasticity is thought to be important for natural function. However, this also provides a potential mechanism for pathogenesis - and medical intervention - that we want to understand: conformer-dependent nucleation and fibril elongation.

Together with our collaborators in an international consortium of Parkinson’s researchers, we have shown how to prevent artefactual aggregation of aSyn (Stephens et al. Analytical Chemistry 2018), we characterised postures adopted by aSyn in response to calcium signalling (Lautenschläger et al. Nature Communications 2018) and we identified aSyn conformers with increased propensity to aggregate (Stephens et al. Nature Communications 2020). 

We are now publishing new findings of aSyn structural plasticity under physiological conditions at the highest resolution ever achieved by hydrogen/deuterium-exchange mass spectrometry (HDX-MS). To achieve this, we develop new experimental methods (Kish et al. bioRxiv 2019) and software to observe protein motion at high resolution in time and space. We welcome a talented and dedicated student to take this exciting opportunity to uncover the dynamic structure of aSyn protein relating to both its natural function and to Parkinson’s disease pathogenesis.

Additional Project costs: £7,000

Supervisors: Dr J.J. Phillips
Contact email: jj.phillips@exeter.ac.uk

 *****

Biological Sciences, Streatham campus, Exeter

Programme: MbyRes or PhD

Project Title: Organelle interaction and cooperation in health and disease

Project Description: Membrane-bound organelles in eukaryotic cells do not function as isolated entities. They form a “social network” within the cell and cooperate to coordinate and facilitate metabolic and other cellular functions. It is now evident that a coordinated interplay is often mediated by inter-organelle membrane contacts, which bring organelles in close apposition. Peroxisomes are ubiquitous organelles, which are highly dynamic. They interact and cooperate with an increasing number of other subcellular compartments to maintain cellular lipid and ROS (reactive oxygen species) balance. These inter-organellar cooperations are essential for human health and development. We have identified novel peroxisomal proteins, which are involved in these processes, but it is still unclear, how these components mediate and regulate organelle cooperation and how they impact on human health and disease. This project will employ a range of molecular cell biology, bioimaging and biochemical approaches to further characterize peroxisome-organelle contacts and their physiological role in human health and disease. Please feel free to contact Prof. Michael Schrader (m.schrader@exeter.ac.uk) if you would like to know more about the project before applying. Further information can be found at http://schraderlab.weebly.com/

Additional Project costs: n/a

Supervisors: Professor Michael Schrader
Contact email: m.schrader@exeter.ac.uk

 

*****


Biological Sciences, Streatham campus, Exeter

Programme: MbyRes (2 years max FT)

Project Title: Exploring the host-pathogen interaction of the bacterial pathogen, Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Project Description: Pseudomonas aeruginosa is one of three Critical Priority Pathogens recognised by the World Health Organisation. A particular challenge associated with P. aeruginosa is its ability to cause chronic infections in certain patient groups (e.g. chronic lung disease, burns & diabetes patients). The persistence of such infections reflects not just the organism’s extensive antibiotic resistance, but also ineffectual immune responses. The development of new therapeutic strategies for such infections demands knowledge of how P. aeruginosa subverts host immune mechanisms and how it adapts to the host environment to facilitate bacterial survival. This project will explore these areas of P. aeruginosa virulence, focusing specifically on how P. aeruginosa interacts with macrophages, which are important phagocytic cells of the innate immune system. The project will employ a range of molecular microbiology and bioimaging approaches to define the nature of the P. aeruginosa-macrophage interaction, and how this interaction is shaped by bacterial adaptation to host-derived stimuli.

Additional Project costs: 7000

Supervisors: Dr Alan Brown
Contact email: a.r.brown@exeter.ac.uk

 

*****

Biological Sciences, Streatham campus, Exeter

Programme: MbyRes or PhD

Project Title: Engineering the Drosophila embryo to regulate cell division and cancer

Project Description: A clear connection exists between cancer and cell division. Accurate cell division relies on microtubules, dynamic protein fibres organized by a set of proteins to form the mitotic spindle. To understand the relationship between spindle formation and cancer, and to develop new treatments, we must understand the physical properties of the proteins involved, in isolation and together, their regulation in the cell and how cells attempt to compensate for their loss.

Such a multi-scale understanding requires a multi-disciplinary approach. We have developed a toolkit that optimises the embryo of the well-studied model organism, the fruit fly Drosophila, as a unique system for combining in vivo and in vitro studies.

In this project you will fuse live cellular imaging of GFP-tagged proteins with a new technique developed in our lab - cleavable affinity purification (Cl-AP) to purify a variety of protein complexes, conserved through to humans. This will enable you to undertake cell biological, proteomic and in vitro reconstitution studies, furthering our understanding of the relationship between cell division and cancer.

Additional Project costs: £2,000 - £9,000 depending on the project

Supervisors: Prof James Wakefield
Contact email: j.g.wakefield@exeter.ac.uk

*****


Biological Sciences, Streatham campus, Exeter

Programme: PhD (4 years max FT)

Project Title: Genomic and Transcriptional Mechanisms underpinning temperature homeostasis and pathogenicity in two amphibian-killing chytrid fungi.

Project Description: Infectious diseases are causing catastrophic species loss worldwide, but their mechanisms of virulence are often poorly understood. The recently discovered species Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal) is a fungal pathogen of salamanders and newts that has recently spread from Asia into Europe, resulting in severe declines in the population of fire salamanders, smooth newts and Alpine newts. The disease is characterised by multifocal superficial erosions and deep ulcerations in the skin of salamanders, with several European species particularly susceptible.

In 2017, we published the first description of the genome of Bsal, which was larger (~32 Mb) than its closest relative Bd (23 Mb). This assembly enabled the discovery of a large expansion of metalloprotease M36 genes, correlating with its ulcerative pathology. In 2020, after being awarded an Oxford Nanopore (ONT) PromethION 24 grant, we generated a highly contiguous genome assembly based on this long-read technology. This new genome (thus far unpublished) provides an unprecedented opportunity to explore the evolution of chytrid fungi responsible for amphibian declines and extinctions.

In this project, we will explore genome evolution using our new assembly, and determine the growth rates and transcriptional responses via RNAseq of both Bd and Bsal. This work will reveal the gene pathways governing chytrid temperature homeostasis, and explore the hypothesis that temperature sensing governs virulence pathways in chytrid fungi.

 Additional Project costs: £2,500

Supervisors: Dr Rhys Farrer
Contact email: r.farrer@exeter.ac.uk

*****

Biological Sciences, Streatham campus, Exeter

Programme: MbyRes or PhD

Project Title: Building barriers to protect plant cells from pathogenic fungi

Project Description: Discovering how plants respond to microbial pathogens is of vital importance as 90% of all calorie intake worldwide comes directly from crop plants. During infection, plant cells create barriers at the site of the infection to repel the invader. We have shown that the protein FORMIN4 links the plant cytoskeleton to this immune response (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2018.05.014). This raises several questions such as: How does the plant cell ‘flag’ the site of microbial contact as being a special location to deliver cargo like FORMIN4? What are the specific molecules involved? How do virulent pathogens subvert this process? Can knowledge of this system be used to reinforce the plant immune system and benefit agriculture?

We are offering projects using Arabidopsis thaliana, wheat and rice that will combine advanced live-cell light microscopy with molecular biology and plant pathology.  Furthermore you will have the opportunity to learn the multidisciplinary skills needed to quantify data from images and to interact with mathematical models to design experiments. You will join a supervisory and research team dedicated to integrating 'traditional' wet-lab approaches typical of bioscience research laboratories with hypothesis testing guided by bioinformatics and  modelling. We are keen to align these projects with existing industrial partnerships and to create new opportunities for interactions with the agritech sector.

 Additional Project costs: £0 to £7,000 depending on project

Supervisors: Dr. Michael Deeks
Contact email: m.deeks@exeter.ac.uk

*****

Programme: MByRes

Project Title: Food fight: how a human fungal pathogen feeds inside mammalian hosts

Project Description:  The fungus Cryptococcus neoformans kills approximately 200, 000 people every year. To cause disease, a microbe needs to scavenge food from the host. Conversely blocking of food acquisition is an atractive antifungal targets. We have found several genes that are essential for food scavenging in C.neoformans, and excitingly, their functions are completely novel. In this project the student will decipher the key functions of these enzymes.

Additional Project costs: £6,000-£9,000

Supervisors: Dr. Carolina Coelho
Contact email: c.coelho@exeter.ac.uk

*****

Programme: MByRes

Project Title: Impact of fungal infection on immunometabolic responses in glia

Project Description: Fungal infection of the brain leads to meningoencephalitis: The pathogenic fungus Cryptococcus neoformans invades the mammalian brain to cause meningoencephalitis, inflammation of the brain and meninges which is responsible for ~180,000 deaths each year. To tackle this major health burden, we need to better understand how the fungus overcomes tissue-specific barriers and brain immunity. Microglia and astrocytes can kill C. neoformans, but the full spectrum of their response to fungal infection is poorly understood. A deeper understanding of the glial-fungal interactions will inform design of novel therapeutics. This project will test the overarching hypothesis that changes in cellular metabolism are key components in the astrocytic and microglial response to this infection.

Additional Project costs: £6,000-9,000/annum

Supervisors: Dr. Carolina Coelho, Professor Kate Ellacott
Contact email: c.coelho@exeter.ac.uk

*****

Biological Sciences, Streatham campus, Exeter

Programme: MbyRes (2 years max FT)

Project Title: Assessing the plastic contamination of Eastern Pacific Mangroves

Project Description: Mangroves are vitally important ecosystems supporting blue carbon capture and as nurseries for commercial fisheries, yet are under threat from the increasing plastic debris entering coastal waterways. To date our understanding of the potential impacts of this growing plastic burden on the health of mangrove ecosystems is very limited. This project will contribute vital data collection on microplastics in mangroves of the Eastern Pacific region to a major ongoing research project at Exeter and in collaboration with partners in Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Galapagos.

Additional Project costs: N/A

Supervisors: Dr Ceri Lewis and Prof Tamara Galloway
Contact email: c.n.lewis@exeter.ac.uk

*****

 

 

 

 

Important Information

The projects available below are self-funded, therefore applicants will need to pay their own fees and living costs or have access to suitable third party funding such as a Doctoral loan or other sponsor. In addition to the University’s standard tuitions fees, bench fees (research costs) may also be applied, details of which will be shown if appropriate to the project.

You are encouraged to contact the named supervisor to discuss the project opportunity prior to submitting an application.

*****

Biological Sciences, Penryn campus, Cornwall

Programme: MbyRes (2 years max FT)

Project Title: Fighting antimicrobial resistance using CRISPR-Cas9 gene drives

Project Description: Antibiotic resistance is one of the most pressing problems of our time, with new resistance mechanisms regularly emerging in clinical pathogens, threatening to make even our last resort antibiotics ineffective. Discovering ways to reverse the acquisition of antibiotic resistance would be truly ground-breaking. An exciting opportunity that recently emerged is CRISPR-Cas9, a genome-editing tool. Although we know that CRISPR-Cas9 can remove antibiotic resistance under lab conditions, it is unclear whether this also works in a real gut where selection for resistance can be strong and where bacteria are embedded in a gut community. In this project you will integrate synthetic biology with in vitro and in vivo experiments to test the effectiveness and consequences of CRISPR-Cas9-mediated removal of antibiotic resistance from clinical pathogens in a realistic gut environment.

Additional Project costs: £3,000

Supervisors: Dr Stineke van Houte & Prof Will Gaze
Contact email: C.van-Houte@exeter.ac.uk

*****

Biological Sciences, Penryn campus, Cornwall

Programme: MbyRes or PhD

Project Title: The role of perceptual processing during mate choice in guppies

Project Description: Courtship signals are often size based, where the choosy sex (usually females) generally prefer to mate with larger individuals that have larger ornaments. In visual signals, visual acuity (the ability to perceive detail) influences the female’s ability to assess size, and therefore attractiveness. This project will quantify visual acuity and courtship behaviour in guppies, a classic system for studying sexual selection. Ornament size in guppies varies with predation risk, where males in high predation areas have smaller, less intensely coloured ornaments compared with males in low predation areas. This project will determine whether visual acuity in males and females varies in populations with differing levels of predation risk, and will test how males may adjust their courtship behaviour to mitigate differences in acuity.

Additional Project costs: N/A

Supervisors: Dr Laura Kelley & Professor Alastair Wilson
Contact email: l.a.kelley@exeter.ac.uk

*****

Biological Sciences, Penryn campus, Cornwall

Programme: MbyRes (2 years max FT)

Project Title: Is bigger always better? Quantifying female preference in the humpbacked limia

Project Description: In many species, females prefer to mate with males that are larger or more ornamented than their rivals. The humpbacked limia is a member of the same family as guppies and swordtails, where female preference for male ornamentation is well described. However, nothing is known about female mate choice or male courtship displays in limia. This project can be tailored to specific research interests, but questions could include quantifying visual acuity (ability to resolve detail), determining whether females prefer larger males and testing whether female preference for male size is linear.

Additional Project costs: N/A

Supervisors: Dr Laura Kelley & Professor Alastair Wilson
Contact email: l.a.kelley@exeter.ac.uk

*****

Biological Sciences, Penryn campus, Cornwall

Programme: MbyRes (2 years max FT)

Project Title: Are motor skills an important component of female choice in bowerbirds?

Project Description: Bowerbirds are famous for building and decorating structures that are the focus of female choice. When displaying to females, male great bowerbirds also dance around the bower and shake and toss decorations, but the role of the male’s physical display is poorly understood. This project will analyse existing video footage using cutting edge automated movement tracking software to quantify male movements during courtship, to test whether vigour is linked with mating success. Additional questions can address how males vary the intensity of different display components when one component is removed, and quantifying female behaviour during courtship. There may also be the possibility to study these birds in the wild in Australia in 2022, if covid rules permit.

Additional Project costs: None, but some costs may be incurred if fieldwork is undertaken

Supervisors: Dr Laura Kelley & Dr Alex Thornton
Contact email: l.a.kelley@exeter.ac.uk

*****


Biological Sciences, Penryn campus, Cornwall

Programme: MbyRes (2 years max FT)

Project Title: Molecular and evolutionary analysis of bacteria-phage interactions

Project Description: Bacteriophages, viruses that infect bacteria, are the most abundant biological entities on this planet. They are increasingly considered as alternative or complementary agents to antibiotics. This MbyRes project would aim to understand how bacteria evolve resistance against bacteriophages, and how bacteriophages in turn can overcome host resistance. The student would receive training in a range of molecular and evolutionary microbiology methods, and be embedded in a thriving research team at the Cornwall campus of the University of Exeter, which hosts a large number of successful Microbiologists that share lab space and resources and equipment.

Additional Project costs: N/A

Supervisors: Prof. Edze Westra
Contact email: E.R.Westra@exeter.ac.uk

*****

Biological Sciences, Penryn campus, Cornwall

Programme: MbyRes (2 years max FT) or PhD (4 years max FT)

Project Title: Migration, acculturation, and the cultural evolution of between-group human cultural variation

Project Description: The human species exhibits extensive cultural diversity across the world, yet also shows frequent migration across groups. This project will examine how these two phenomena fit together. If people cary their cultural values with them when they migrate, cultural diversity will gradually be destroyed. Instead, migrants (or their children) acculturate, i.e. acquire the cultural values of the local population. This can preserve between-group cultural diversity, yet we have little understanding of how acculturation actually works. You will build on previous models (e.g. Mesoudi 2018, PLOS ONE) and/or lab experiments (e.g. Deffner & McElreath 2020, Roy Soc Open Sci) and/or real world data (e.g. Mesoudi et al. 2016, PLOS ONE) to explore what form acculturation takes, and its consequences for between-group cultural variation. This will involve training and self-directed learning in theoretical modelling, online human lab experiments and cultural evolution theory as appropriate, although prior experience in these areas is desirable.

Additional Project costs: N/A

Supervisors: Professor Alex Mesoudi
Contact email: a.mesoudi@exeter.ac.uk

*****

Biological Sciences, Penryn campus, Cornwall

Programme: MbyRes (2 years max FT)

Project Title: Pathogen host shifts

Project Description: Many emerging infectious diseases such as HIV, Ebola, and recently SARS-CoV-2, have jumped into humans from other species. To understand pathogen host jumps, we must understand: why some species are more likely to become infected than others, and what infection by a pathogen in one species tells us about infection in other species, and by other related pathogens. Projects in my lab (https://benlongdon.com/) will aim to improve our understanding of which species pathogens are likely to jump between, and whether there are general rules to help understand emerging pathogens.

Additional Project costs: £0 to £5000 depending on the project chosen.

Supervisors: Dr Ben Longdon
Contact email: b.longdon2@exeter.ac.uk

*****

Biological Sciences, Penryn campus, Cornwall

Programme: MbyRes (2 years max FT) or PhD (4 years max FT)

Project Title: Looking for local adaptation to climate in the mountains of Northern Spain

Project Description: An issue of key importance for understanding the impacts of climate change on biodiversity is the extent to which animal populations are locally adapted to their environment, as opposed to using phenotypic plasticity to exploit wide climatic ranges.  Field Crickets, Gryllus campestris are found from 100-1800m in the Cantabrian and Picos de Europa mountains of Northern Spain.  High altitude populations experience substantial annual snowfalls and a much shorter summer season than lowland populations.  This project would involve fieldwork in Asturias in N. Spain collecting crickets, bringing them back to the lab and rearing their offspring at a range of temperatures to measure their developmental trajectories, and to conduct assays to determine their sensitivity to changes in temperature.

Additional Project costs: N/A

Supervisors: Tom Tregenza
Contact email: t.tregenza@exeter.ac.uk

*****

Biological Sciences, Penryn campus, Cornwall

Programme: MbyRes (2 years max FT) or PhD (4 years max FT)

Project Title: Using citizen science in evolutionary ecology and conservation

Project Description: We have developed a citizen science game http://cricket-tales.exeter.ac.uk/ with the aim of involving the public in our research.  However, in common with many similar projects, we have only a very limited idea about how well it really works, what people like about it or don’t like about it, how much they really learn from it and how we could improve it.  Some of these issues are specific to our game, but there are many potentially general insights that could be gained. This MSc would involve organising interactions with the public in order to take a scientific approach to evaluating how citizen science computer games are received and how they might be optimised.  It would be well suited to students interested in future careers relating to the communication of science.

Additional Project costs: N/A

Supervisors: Tom Tregenza
Contact email: t.tregenza@ex.ac.uk

*****

Biological Sciences, Penryn campus, Cornwall

Programme: PhD (4 years max FT)

Project Title: Vulnerability of global biodiversity hotspots to climate change

Project Description: More than half of Earth's species are contained in a mere 1.4% of its land area, but the climates of many of these biodiversity hotspots are projected to disappear as a consequence of anthropogenic climate change. However, there is growing recognition that spatio‐temporal patterns of climate in biodiversity hotspots have shaped biological diversity over a variety of historical time‐scales, yet these patterns are rarely taken into account in assessments of the vulnerability of biodiversity hotspots to future climate change. This research project will use recent advances in high spatial and temporal resolution climate modelling to better understand climate impacts on the most biodiverse areas of the planet.

Additional Project costs: Fieldwork is an option, but the student would be required to meet the costs of this.

Supervisors: Dr Ilya Maclean
Contact email: i.m.d.maclean@exeter.ac.uk

*****

Biological Sciences, Penryn campus, Cornwall

Programme: MbyRes (2 years max FT) or PhD (4 years max FT)

Project Title: How will climate change affect snowshoe hare/lynx population dynamics?

Project Description: Background

Populations of snowshoe hares and Canada lynx follow classic predator-prey dynamics, which have helped us understand community ecology the world over. The populations follow an approximately ten-year boom and bust cycle, with both hare and lynx showing dramatic changes in birth and death rates throughout1. Snowshoe hares avoid predation by using seasonal camouflage, being brown during the summer and white during the winter, however they change between coats based on the time of year, rather than conditions. Climate change threatens the cycle by affecting the timing of snow conditions, meaning hare coats can mismatch with their environment and make it easier for predators to catch them2. Previous studies have shown that mortality risk for hares varies with snow conditions3, but have not been able to predict how the cycle will be affected by climate change in the future, or to identify whether populations in certain regions are particularly at risk. This project will produce cutting edge models and forecasts of predator-prey dynamics based on ground-breaking recent research in camouflage and prey-detection.

Aims

The work of a previous masters student with this team has quantified the detectability of hares under different snow conditions and different predator visual systems4. The successful applicant will build upon this to achieve two aims:

1.            Model snowshoe hare/lynx population dynamics incorporating hare detectability using mechanistic approaches
               (see5). Detectability will be based on time of year (which indicates the camouflage coat of the hare), and snow
               conditions (which indicates the mismatch between hare coat and environmental conditions).

2.            Use spatially explicit projections of snow conditions in the future to map how snowshoe hare/lynx dynamics
               might change across North America with climate change

Snowshoe hares are key prey species not just for lynx but for many predators, meaning changes to their populations could affect the wider boreal forest ecosystem. Understanding how population dynamics could change in the future can help inform conservation policy. The results of this project could also help understand why the amplitude of hare/lynx cycles have decreased in recent years.

Skills

The successful applicant will need to feel comfortable working with population dynamics models, in particular differential equations. They will also need experience coding in R. An understanding of GIS systems and spatial analysis is desirable but not essential. Confidence in academic writing is also important. The student need not necessarily have a background in biology, but must be prepared to become familiar with the ecology of the study system.

The student will gain improved skills in coding, spatial modelling and forecasting, understanding of the effects of environmental change on wildlife, and experience working as an ecology academic

The student will join the FABiogeography and Sensory Ecology groups at the University of Exeter’s beautiful campus in Penryn, Cornwall. Groups meet regularly to discuss research and publications, to share expertise via peer-training sessions, to practice presentations or feedback on the development of papers, funding or job applications. Both offer a strong collegiate environment, in which members develop their own mentoring skills, are exposed to all aspects of a research career, and co-develop papers with each other. In addition the student will receive training and support provided by the University’s Doctoral College, and be integrated into the thriving broader research environment of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation. Please feel free to contact Dr Regan Early (r.early@exeter.ac.uk) if you’d like to know more about the project before applying.

1. Krebs et al J. Anim. Ecol. 87, 87–100 (2018).

2. Mills et al. PNAS 110, 7360 LP – 7365 (2013).

3. Peers et al. Nat. Clim. Chang. 10, 1149–1153 (2020).

4. Jeffers http://hdl.handle.net/10871/124638

5. King Ecology 82, 814–83

Additional Project costs: N/A

Supervisors: Dr Regan Early, Prof Martin Stevens and Dr Hannah Wauchope
Contact email: r.early@exeter.ac.uk

*****

Biological Sciences, Penryn campus, Cornwall

Programme: MbyRes (2 years max FT)

Project Title: What makes a successful fish? Male dominance and female preference in the humpbacked limia.

Project Description: This project would study among-individual behavioural variation (i.e. personality) in the poeciliid fish Limia nigrafasciata with a likely focus on male-male competition and dominance. Little is currently known about the behaviour of these fish, which are close relatives of the better studied guppies and swordtails. Preliminary observations indicate that male social structure includes relatively stable male dominance hierarchies (as in swordtails) and we are now interested in developing this species as a model for future behavioural genetic studies. The project will be based in the Penryn fish lab. It will involve developing behavioural assays suitable for this species in the lab, and then applying them to one of more empirical question. Specific questions could include determination of factors leading to consistent male dominance, assessing the ‘linearity’ of dominance hierarchies, or evaluating the role of personality in determining contest outcome. There is also potential to focus more on female behaviours as well, and explore whether – for example – female choice for particular male phenotypes is an important factor in the mating system of this species.

Additional Project costs: N/A

Supervisors: Professor Alastair Wilson
Contact email: a.wilson@exeter.ac.uk

*****

Biological Sciences, Penryn campus, Cornwall

Programme: MbyRes (2 years max FT)

Project Title: Coping with stress: how quickly do guppies recover from disturbance?

Project Description: Behavioural responses often represent the first line of defence when dealing with acute stressors in the environment. In guppies, we know that individuals consistently in how they behave in stressful contexts, such as when threatened by a predator. This variation might be referred to as shy-bold personality in some contexts but can also be viewed as variation in behavioural stress response. From studies of wild guppies in the lab, we now know that populations from fish from different populations behave differently when exposed to stressful situations, and so do individuals with populations (in part because of their genes). However, we don’t know how quickly individuals ‘recover’ normal behaviour after a disturbance, or whether this also differs among individuals and populations. This may be both interesting and important since, while responding appropriately to a perceived threat is likely to be important for survival, so is rapid resumption of normal behaviour (including foraging, mating etc) if the risk has gone. The project will combine new behavioural work in the guppy lab with fine scale re-analysis of existing data to explore the temporal dynamics of behaviour over fine scales. The aims will be to see if- and how – individuals alter their behaviour within a short period (a few minutes) of receiving a stress stimulus, and ask whether this is variation among individuals in these temporal shifts. Analytically, this will be a challenging but rewarding project, it will provide exposure to cutting-edge (and in demand!) statistical methods used in animal behaviour.

Additional Project costs: N/A

Supervisors: Professor Alastair Wilson
Contact email: a.wilson@exeter.ac.uk

*****

Biological Sciences, Penryn campus, Cornwall

Programme: MbyRes (2 years max FT)

Project Title: A need for speed? Plasticity, personality and performance of fast-start swimming in guppies

Project Description: Animals employ a range of behavioural strategies to deal with predation threats in their environment. Simplistically we can think of these as including both pre-emptive ‘decision making’ about how much risky behaviour to engage in, and also post-exposure response to predation – how should you, or can you, respond if a predator attacks. Intuitively, natural selection might favour winning combinations of these such that, for example, bold risk-taking behaviours are more likely to be engaged in by individuals with high abilities to get out of trouble if it does arise. This project will explore this idea in the lab using captive populations of wild-type guppies, and asking whether bold-type personalities are associated with high predator-relevant locomotor performance traits, such as ‘fast-start’ swimming. It will explore these hypothesised relationships at multiple levels – among individuals, among populations that evolved under different predation regimes, and potentially among families to test for a genetic basis to trait associations. It will also test whether the personality and performance traits, and the relationships between them change ‘plastically’ across environments with differing levels of perceived risk.

Additional Project costs: N/A

Supervisors: Professor Alastair Wilson
Contact email: a.wilson@exeter.ac.uk

*****

Biological Sciences, Penryn campus, Cornwall

Programme: MbyRes (2 years max FT)

Project Title: Maternal effects and non-additive inheritance of speed in thoroughbred racehorses

Project Description: Breeding thoroughbred racehorses is an important industry in the UK and leading stallions attract enormous stud fees from those seeking to breed horses with the best genes for winning races. Although it was thought for a while that racehorses were no longer improving, we now know that they are still getting faster and this is - in part - down to a genetic response to selection. Although pedigree-based analyses show that genes do matter for speed, our current picture is based on models that assume standard, additive autosomal inheritance only. New analytical methods are available to explore whether this model is sufficient to understand, and predict, the inheritance of racehorse speed. This project will work with an industrial partner who will provide access to a large database of >900,000 race records on >100,000 horses. The goals will be to explore ‘non-additive’ sources of inheritance of performance that may include, for example testing for maternal genetic effects, X-linked variation and or matrilineal effects that are predicted if maternally inherited mtDNA plays an important role in the genetics of speed. It will be an analytical and ‘big data’ project that trains the student in quantitative genetic methods which are widely used in both fundamental science (e.g. evolutionary ecology) and more applied field (e.g. livestock production, medical genetics). Full training will be provided but a student should have some prior experience with (and enjoyment of!) statistics using R.

Additional Project costs: N/A

Supervisors: Professor Alastair Wilson, Mr Patrick Sharman (CEO, TBgenerations Ltd)
Contact email: a.wilson@exeter.ac.uk

*****


Biological Sciences, Penryn campus, Cornwall

Programme: MbyRes or PhD

Project Title: Marine coloration and behaviour, including anthropogenic impacts

Project Description: I am keen to take on students who wish to undertake projects in the area of animal coloration, especially in marine intertidal invertebrates (crabs, prawns, sea slugs, anemones), and their anti-predator behaviour. This includes work assessing the impact of humans on the above, including noise, chemical, or others. Specific projects can be discussed with me.

Additional Project costs: N/A

Supervisors: Prof Martin Stevens
Contact email: martin.stevens@exeter.ac.uk

*****

Biological Sciences, Penryn campus, Cornwall

Programme: MbyRes (2 years max FT)

Project Title: Life history genomics: identifying the molecular basis of variation in reproductive investment in Japanese quail

Project Description: Parental care is key to offspring survival, yet considerable variation in parental provisioning is observed both within and across natural populations. The molecular basis of this variation, as well as variation in other key life history traits, is still poorly understood. Using a powerful artificial selection approach in a captive population of Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) we have created selection lines that differ genetically in the level of resources the mother provides to the developing young. By crossing these lines, we created F2 hybrids, which were sequenced using a Genotyping-by-Sequencing (GBS) approach. In this project, you will use the generated sequence reads, as well as phenotypic information on the F2 crosses, to perform quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping of maternal egg provisioning and identify genomic regions associated with variation in maternal investment. The project offers the chance to gain transferable skills in quantitative genetics and bioinformatics that are widely used in fundamental (e.g. evolutionary biology) and more applied (e.g. medical genetics and agriculture) research.

Additional Project costs: N/A

Supervisors: Dr Barbara Tschirren
Contact email: b.tschirren@exeter.ac.uk

*****

Biological Sciences, Penryn campus, Cornwall

Programme: MbyRes or PhD

Project Title: Cognition in the wild: managing relationships by making informed decisions

Project Description: The need to maintain long-term relationships is widely assumed to be a key driver of the evolution of cognitive abilities, but clear evidence is lacking. This project will examine how the strength of social relationships influences information gathering strategies in wild jackdaws, birds of the large-brained crow family that form long-term monogamous pair bonds. Although superficially harmonious, pair-bonds are not free of conflict and risk, but the associated informational challenges are not understood. Visiting others’ nests (“prospecting”) may allow birds to gather information to mitigate risks like the loss of a nest-site or death of a partner and make informed decisions such as whether to divorce or engage in extra-pair copulations. However, prospecting may trade off against investment in the current brood. The project will use state-of-the art automated tracking of nest visits in combination with long-term life-history records to establish whether jackdaws make adaptive prospecting decisions by integrating information on (i) the strength of their own relationships with their partner and (ii) their own and others’ current and past history of breeding success.

Additional Project costs: £0

Supervisors: Dr Alex Thornton
Contact email: alex.thornton@exeter.ac.uk

*****

Biological Sciences, Penryn campus, Cornwall

Programme: MbyRes or PhD

Project Title: Understanding the importance of migratory birds as vectors of microbes at the landscape scale.

Project Description: Gut-associated microbial communities are fundamental to the health of the their animal hosts. This is likely especially true in migratory birds, who need to optimise body condition prior to long-distance flight and reproduction. Though knowledge of the composition of the bird gut microbiome is developing, the extent to which birds acts as vectors to transmit microbes across vast geographic distances remains relatively understudied. Addressing this question is vital, given that the avian gut is also a source of parasites, pathogens, and microbes containing anti-microbial resistance (AMR) genes. This project will use a long-distance migratory bird, the light-bellied Brent goose (Branta bernicla hrota) as a model system to explore microbial transmission across stages of the annual cycle, between the Irish wintering grounds and Icelandic staging grounds. This project would suit researchers with an interest in host-microbe interactions, migratory ecology and animal behaviour.

Additional Project costs: £1,000 to £3,000 depending on the project chosen and amount of fieldwork

Supervisors: Dr Xav Harrison; Prof Stuart Bearhop
Contact email: x.harrison@exeter.ac.uk

*****

Biological Sciences, Penryn campus, Cornwall

Programme: MbyRes (2 years max FT)

Project Title: Call of nature: Do antibiotics reduce the benefits of ecosystem services provided by dung beetles?

Project Description: Dung beetles provide a range of ecosystem services including nutrient recycling, enhancement of soil structure and drainage and reduced pathogen transmission. Dung beetles can rapidly remove livestock dung from grassland and have been suggested to suppress environmental contamination with faeces-borne pathogens as a consequence. However, there is some evidence that practices associated with intensive agricultural practices such as the routine administering of antibiotics may harm dung‐feeding (coprophagous) beetles, and could contribute to heightened food‐safety risk from pathogens such as E. coli. This project aims to test how antibiotics affect reproductive success of dung beetles and the rate at which dung beetles remove livestock dung in addition using a combination of fieldwork and experimental mesocosms. Furthermore, the project aims to identify whether the microbiome of dung beetles is impacted by the presence of antibiotics in cattle dung and agricultural soil. This will be done by measuring the species richness and abundance of the gut microbiome of the dung beetles. Skills acquired include field ID of invertebrates, survey techniques, and other practical field ecology skills, experimental design using mesocosms, microbiome lab work and quantitative modelling in R. There is also the possibility for the student to receive training in molecular skills such as DNA extraction and PCR, as well as bioinformatic and statistical analysis of microbial communities & metagenetic/metagenomic data. Fieldwork will be on farmland close to the University in Cornwall in May-July and the mesocosm experiments and microbiome labwork will be done on the Penryn campus.  Having your own transport for field work would be advantageous (although that may be just a bike!).

Additional Project costs: Molecular costs would be an additional ~£1-2K depending on sample sizes

Supervisors: Dr Nick Royle & Dr Xavier Harrison
Contact email: n.j.royle@exeter.ac.uk

*****

Biological Sciences, Penryn campus, Cornwall

Programme: MbyRes (2 years max FT)

Project Title: Big blue: Ecology and conservation of blue ground beetles

Project Description: Blue ground beetles Carabus intricatus are the largest species of UK ground beetle but are found at only a handful of sites, primarily in the Southwest of England. They are a BAP priority species so have important conservation status. However, relatively little is known about their habitat requirements and preferences. Such knowledge is essential in order to be able to implement successful conservation practices to boost populations. You will work with a PhD student on this project in the field to quantify habitat requirements, foraging behaviour and/or population characteristics of blue ground beetles on Dartmoor in Devon and/or near Bodmin in Cornwall, with the exact specifics of the project depending on your particular interests and the interests of the project partners including Natural England, The Woodland Trust, Dartmoor National Parks Authority and Buglife. The project will involve teamwork and skills acquired will include field ID of invertebrates and plants, survey techniques, radio-tracking (possibly) and other practical field ecology skills, experimental design and quantitative modelling in R. Fieldwork is mostly in April/May/June. It may be necessary to have your own transport. Fieldwork is arduous as terrain is difficult. Some of the fieldwork will be after dark as that is when the beetles are most active, but you will not be working alone. The project would suit someone best with a keen interest in entomology and ecology who enjoys fieldwork and is considering a career in conservation.

Additional Project costs: N/A

Supervisors: Dr Nick Royle
Contact email: n.j.royle@exeter.ac.uk

*****

Biological Sciences, Penryn campus, Cornwall

Programme: MbyRes (2 years max FT)

Project Title: To share or not to share: The costs and benefits of group breeding in wild burying beetles

Project Description: Group living – where individuals of the same species share resources – is a widespread behaviour that has both benefits and costs. However, why individuals form breeding groups and the associated costs and benefits of doing so, are still unclear for many species. Nicrophorus vespilloides burying beetles breed on the carcasses of small vertebrates and have a flexible breeding system with parental care that includes single parent breeding at one end of the spectrum through to group breeding at the other, with biparental care in between. Previous work has shown that resource availability and levels of intraspecific competition are important determinants of patterns of parental care in this species, but another important but untested factor in the wild is likely to be interspecific competition (e.g. with slugs, flies, other species of beetle). This project will build on this previous work by testing how carcass size and interspecific competition determine the probability of group living in Nicrophorus vespiloides burying beetles in the wild. Skills acquired will include field ID of invertebrates, survey techniques, and other practical field ecology skills, experimental design and quantitative modelling in R. Fieldwork would be in May/June/July at a woodland site just a few miles from the Penryn campus.

Additional Project costs: N/A

Supervisors: Dr Nick Royle
Contact email: n.j.royle@exeter.ac.uk

*****

 

Important Information

The projects available below are self-funded, therefore applicants will need to pay their own fees and living costs or have access to suitable third party funding such as a Doctoral loan or other sponsor. In addition to the University’s standard tuitions fees, bench fees (research costs) may also be applied, details of which will be shown if appropriate to the project.

You are encouraged to contact the named supervisor to discuss the project opportunity prior to submitting an application.

*****

Human Geography, Penryn campus, Cornwall

Programme: MbyRes (2 years max FT)

Project Title: Citizen Journalism: Hyper local reportage in a time of alt-truth

Project Description: The researcher will evaluate the role, function and extent of the new Citizen Journalism programme being developed and delivered by the Social Innovation Group at the Penryn Campus. The project is designed to introduce journalism tools and techniques, e.g. Podcasting, data journalism, etc to individual learners from unrepresented populations wishing to record the issues that affect their lives and the lives of their communities. Local journalism is on the cusp of dying out as local newspapers are disappearing as it is hard to commercialise local news across digital platforms. The project looks to encourage new ways of news reportage across different platforms to reach different audiences.

Additional Project costs: N/A

Supervisors: Dr Michael Leyshon, Mr Matthew Roger, Prof Catherine Leyshon
Contact email: M.Leyshon@exeter.a.cuk

*****

 

Important Information

The projects available below are self-funded, therefore applicants will need to pay their own fees and living costs or have access to suitable third party funding such as a Doctoral loan or other sponsor. In addition to the University’s standard tuitions fees, bench fees (research costs) may also be applied, details of which will be shown if appropriate to the project.

You are encouraged to contact the named supervisor to discuss the project opportunity prior to submitting an application.

*****

Psychology, Streatham campus, Exeter

Programme: MbyRes or PhD

Project Title: Social and moral development

Project Description: Children and adolescents are competent social and moral thinkers capable of navigating social situations where they have to simultaneously consider issues of morality (e.g. “what is the fair thing to do?”) and social conventions (e.g. “what do other people expect me to do?”). Projects in this area will aim to further explore how young people use this understanding to navigate a broad range of issues related to equity and justice.

For example, a project in this area could focus on:

•             Children’s evaluations of their peers who challenge established group norms

•             Young people’s resource allocation and reasoning in situations of wealth inequality

•             How gender stereotypes and norms influence children’s thinking in intergroup contexts

•             Bystander responses to the social exclusion of stigmised groups (e.g. immigrant peers)

•             Children’s evaluations and moral reasoning about human treatment of non-human animals

•             Children’s attitudes towards their LGBTQ+ peers

Methodologies will typically involve experimental studies and cross-sectional surveys carried out in the school or museum setting. Projects in this area will aim to advance our understanding of young people’s reasoning and behaviour and would therefore be well suited to those interested in working in educational contexts post-graduation.

 Additional Project costs: Approx. £2,000 p.a. to cover the cost of conducting the research in the field.

Supervisors: Professor Adam Rutland
Contact email: a.rutland@exeter.ac.uk

 

*****

Psychology, Streatham campus, Exeter

Programme: MbyRes (2 years max FT)

Project Title: Navigation and Foraging of Bees in the Natural Landscape

Project Description: Navigation in bees is influenced by landmarks, and in heterogeneous fragmented landscapes with major landmark structures, those can significantly determine where and how bees forage, subsequently affecting pollination services. In this project we will investigate how bees adjust their behaviour to such conditions. In this project work involves field observations of foraging bees in urban and agricultural environments of Devon. Many small and diverse agricultural holdings in Devon are separated by wide large-sized high-hedges grown on earth banks, the traditional Devon hedges. It is also a hotspot of biodiverse habitats many of which have been recently mapped out in the B(iodiversity)-Lines project which will connect them with corridors to conserve biodiversity and oppose the decline in bees, the major group of pollinators. The data collected in this project, scientific conclusions and outcomes of model testing will feed directly into the management of our non-academic partners.  This project offers multidisciplinary academic training in the behavioural and ecological sciences and opportunities for learning more about landscape management and the development and implementation of environmental policies.

Additional Project costs: N/A

Supervisors: Professor Natalie Hempel de Ibarra
Contact email: N.Hempel@exeter.ac.uk

*****

Psychology, Streatham campus, Exeter

Programme: PhD (4 years max FT)

Project Title: Bee behaviour and cognition

Project Description: Despite their smaller brain capacity, many insects have sophisticated capabilities to learn and flexibly respond to changes and unpredictable conditions in their environment. Their behavior is variable and much less stereotyped than believed for a long time. In this PhD project you will develop a research programme that is based on field or lab experiments. The aim is to uncover the mechanisms that underpin the bees' remarkable learning skills, memory processes, navigational and foraging flexibility using various techniques and concepts that link ecology, cognitive science and behavioural neuroscience.

Additional Project costs: N/A

Supervisors: Professor Natalie Hempel de Ibarra
Contact email: N.Hempel@exeter.ac.uk

 

Psychology, Streatham campus, Exeter

Programme: MbyRes (2 years max FT)

Project Title: Mechanisms of learning and memory in bees

Project Description: Despite their smaller brain capacity, many insects have sophisticated capabilities to learn and flexibly respond to changes and unpredictable conditions in their environment. In this MSc by Research project you will develop a research plan for either field or lab experiments to understand more about the bees' remarkable learning skills, memory processes, navigational and foraging flexibility. You will explore which techniques and concepts at the interface of ecology, cognitive science and behavioural neuroscience are best suited for answering novel research questions.

Additional Project costs: N/A

Supervisors: Professor Natalie Hempel de Ibarra
Contact email: N.Hempel@exeter.ac.uk

*****

Psychology, Streatham campus, Exeter

Programme: PhD (4 years max FT)

Project Title: Psychology of Addiction

Project Description: The core focus of the research will be on risk factors and treatment mechanisms in addiction. Work can encompass epidemiology, experimental and survey methods to study risk factors, small scale randomised controlled trials to evaluate treatment components, secondary analysis of existing data, and meta-analysis to synthesis existing findings and generate policy recommendations.

Additional Project costs: N/A

Supervisors: Professor Lee Hogarth
Contact email: l.hogarth@exeter.ac.uk

*****

Psychology, Streatham campus, Exeter

Programme: MbyRes (2 years max FT)

Project Title: To be or nut to be; can we infer a squirrel’s affective state from their  foraging decisions under ambiguity?

Project Description: An animal’s survival depends on its ability to make good decisions. If it hears a rustle in the grass, should it forgo feeding in case there is a predator approaching, or assume it’s just the wind and risk predation? The animal’s emotional (affective) state is thought to provide a heuristic for rapid decision-making of this sort; a negative

affective state reflects recent negative experiences predisposing cautious decision-making under ambiguity (a ‘pessimistic’ judgement bias). Although decision-making in judgement bias tests has been widely used as a measure of animal affect and hence welfare in captive species, there has been virtually no empirical investigation in wild animals. Such studies would allow hypotheses about the relationship between environmental conditions, animal state, and decision-making to be tested in a real-world situation, hence shedding light on potential adaptive functions of emotion. Wild populations of grey squirrels are abundant and will readily interact with experimental apparatus hence providing an ideal model for such studies. The aim of this project is to develop a behavioural task to investigate judgement bias in squirrels. This will involve training squirrels to make costly actions that could lead to either a high-value food item or low-value food item, and assessing whether and how quickly they execute these actions. The relationship between judgement bias and variables characterising the condition of the test environment and state of the individual will then be investigated.

 Additional Project costs: N/A

Supervisors: Dr. Lisa Leaver; Professor Mike Mendl, Dr. Liz Paul, Dr. Vikki Neville
Contact email: l.a.leaver@exeter.ac.uk

*****

 

 

 

 

Important Information

The MbyRes projects available below are self-funded, therefore applicants will need to pay their own fees and living costs or have access to suitable third party funding such as a Doctoral loan or other sponsor. In addition to the University’s standard tuitions fees, bench fees (research costs) may also be applied, details of which will be shown if appropriate to the project.

You are encouraged to contact the named supervisor to discuss the project opportunity prior to submitting an application.

 *****

Sport & Health Sciences, St Luke's campus, Exeter

Programme: MbyRes or PhD

Project Title: Prebiotics and gut microbiome effect on cardiovascular health

Project Description: It is well known that a diet rich in wholegrains, fruit and vegetables is associated with lower risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. But what is the mechanism behind this? Emerging evidence shows that fermentation of specific fibres by our gut microbiome might mediate this beneficial effect. This project aims to understand mechanisms and effects of different foods and supplements with prebiotics potential (e.g. but not limited to: inulin, inulin-rich vegetables, kombucha) on markers of vascular health, gut microbiome composition and gut microbiome metabolites. Studies will be conducted both in healthy and metabolic conditions depending on the duration of the project (MbyRes/PhD) and student interest.

Additional Project costs: £0-3000 depending on project

Supervisors: Dr Luciana Torquati
Contact email: l.torquati@exeter.ac.uk

*****

 

Sport & Health Sciences, St Luke's campus, Exeter

Programme: MbyRes or PhD

Project Title: Effects of prebiotics on athletes performance and immune function

Project Description: There is a clear link between gut microbiome and immune function, however human supplementation studies show conflicting evidence and rarely include athletes. Extraneous exercise can have a negative impact on gut permeability and increase the risk of upper respiratory tract infections. Probiotic supplementation has shown promising results in preventing these outcomes, but little is known on the effects of prebiotics or combined supplementation. Another less investigated aspect is the role of gut microbiome metabolites on exercise performance. This project aims to understand mechanisms, effects and feasibility of prebiotic supplementation on performance and/or immunity markers, gut microbiome composition and gut microbiome metabolites. Another angle of interest includes the potential for fermented foods or drinks (e.g. kombucha) on hydration status. Studies will be conducted both in active and athletic populations depending on the duration of the project (MRes/PhD) and student interest.

Additional Project costs: £0-3000

Supervisors: Dr Luciana Torquati
Contact email: l.torquati@exeter.ac.uk

*****

 

Sport & Health Sciences, St Luke's campus, Exeter

Programme: MbyRes (2 years max FT)

Project Title: The role of feeding and physical inactivity on skeletal muscle branched-chain amino acid metabolism

Project Description: Periods of muscle disuse, e.g. during hospitalisation or limb immobilization, lead to substantial muscle loss. Such periods are accompanied by shift towards a net forearm muscle uptake of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which precedes muscle atrophy, and the subsequent accumulation of BCAAs in skeletal muscle tissue. As such, changes in BCAA metabolism may be involved in the loss of muscle mass with disuse. The mitochondrial enzyme complex branched-chain alpha-keto acid dehydrogenase (BCKDH) catalyses the rate-limiting, irreversible step of BCAA metabolism in muscle. The aims of this analytical project are 1) to set up a radioenzymatic assay to measure BCKDH activity, and 2) to determine the impact of limb immobilization and protein feeding on BCKDH activity via analysis of previously collected human muscle samples.

Additional Project costs: N/A

Supervisors: Dr Marlou Dirks, Professor Francis Stephens
Contact email: m.dirks@exeter.ac.uk

*****

 

Sport & Health Sciences, St Luke's campus, Exeter

Programme: MbyRes (2 years max FT)

Project Title: Skeletal muscle branched chain amino acid metabolism in obesity and type 2 diabetes

Project Description: Elevated plasma branched chain amino acid concentration can predict the onset of type 2 diabetes, and elevated skeletal muscle branched chain amino acid concentration is a characteristic of insulin resistant individuals. The aim of the present project is to manipulate skeletal muscle branched chain amino acid metabolism in insulin resistant individuals to provide further insight into the role of branched chain amino acids in insulin resistance and the development of type 2 diabetes.

Additional Project costs: N/A

Supervisors: Professor Francis Stephens
Contact email: f.b.stephens@exeter.ac.uk

 *****

Sport & Health Sciences, St Luke's campus, Exeter

Programme: MbyRes (2 years max FT)

Project Title: The effect of eccentric exercise on skeletal muscle lipid metabolism

Project Description: Skeletal muscle lipid accumulation can have adverse effects on several cellular process and is a characteristic of numerous diseases that are associated with low grade inflammation. Eccentric exercise is known cause an inflammatory response in skeletal muscle. The aim of this project is to provide further insight into the role of inflammation in skeletal muscle lipid accumulation by analysing lipid content and localisation in human skeletal muscle samples collected from previous studies in which individuals have undergone eccentric exercise. Microscopy and biochemical laboratory approaches will be used and there may be opportunity to perform an eccentric exercise study in human participants.

Additional Project costs: N/A

Supervisors: Professor Francis Stephens
Contact email: f.b.stephens@exeter.ac.uk

 *****

Sport & Health Sciences, St Luke's campus, Exeter

Programme: MbyRes (2 years max FT)

Project Title: Developing a novel method to quantify rates of glycogen and lipid turnover in human skeletal muscle

Project Description: An inability to synthesise and breakdown (turnover) skeletal muscle glycogen and lipid is a characteristic of type 2 diabetes. However, measuring these processes in humans is fairly expensive and labour intensive. The aim of the present project is to develop a mass spectrometry method to quantify the the turnover of glycogen and lipid in human skeletal muscle samples that have been obtained from previous studies where participants have been administered stable isotopes to label the glycogen and lipid pools.

Additional Project costs: N/A

Supervisors: Professor Francis Stephens
Contact email: f.b.stephens@exeter.ac.uk

 *****

Sport & Health Sciences, St Luke's campus, Exeter

Programme: MbyRes or PhD

Project Title: Science Engagement to Empower Disadvantaged AdoleScents (SEEDS) Horizon 2020 project

Project Description: One of the key priorities in education is the appropriate inclusion of vulnerable populations in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) careers. Even though STEM competencies are a priority in adolescents who will join the labour market shortly. STEM careers are selected and/or preferred by a reduced number of adolescents.

SEEDS project is a multicenter 24-month Citizen Science (CS) cluster randomized controlled study, with interventions conducted in four European countries acting as pilot sites: 1) Greece, 2) the Netherlands, 3) Spain and 4) the United Kingdom. This project is combining CS and traditional approaches and will target high schools located in deprived neighbourhoods of Europe. The methodology, that combines CS and traditional science, could build effective cooperation between science and society to empower adolescents from the low-income environment to adopt healthy lifestyles to prevent obesity, increase their interest in science and improve their critical thinking.

The overall objectives of the SEEDS project are:

  • Increase STEM interest: Engage adolescents from deprived neighbourhoods in designing interventions that seed interest in scientific methodologies, promote STEM careers and empower them by enhancing their critical thinking capabilities.
  • Improve their lifestyles: Increase physical activity and reduce prolonged sedentary time (inside school) and increase healthy snacking choices (inside and outside school).

Specific objectives:

  • Objective 1: To improve the lack of scientific engagement in adolescents from low-income neighbourhoods by pairing scientific excellence with social awareness through participatory-research interventions.
  • Objective 2: To empower adolescents from deprived areas by immersing them in the scientific process, to better understand how they behave, understand and interact with science and their motives to do so.
  • Objective 3: To train a new generation of scientists in the importance of co-creation and dialogue between science and society.
  • Objective 4: To provide evidence on the needs of adolescents from deprived neighbourhoods to improve their interest in STEM careers and to translate it into policy recommendations and educational tools tailored to this group.

Additional Project costs: To be discussed

Supervisors: Dr Dimitris Vlachopoulos, Dr Christopher Elphick, Dr Alan Barker, Prof Craig Williams
Contact email: D.Vlachopoulos@exeter.ac.uk

 

*****

Sport & Health Sciences, St Luke's campus, Exeter

Programme: MbyRes or PhD

Project Title: Establishing optimal vitamin D dosages in people with Cystic Fibrosis

Project Description: Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an autosomal-recessively inherited multisystem disorder. Morbidity and mortality are principally due to unresolving and unremitting infections that cause progressive lung disease. Studies show that the active form of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD), 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25OHD), has both anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial and may improve respiratory function and aerobic fitness. Furthermore, we have recently shown that 25OHD insufficiency (deficiency and insufficiency) is highly prevalent, despite vitamin D prescriptions meeting recommendations, and plasma 25OHD was significantly associated with aerobic fitness and lung function in children with CF, whilst insufficiency may be associated with ventilatory dysfunction during exercise. Therefore, this project will investigate the effects of vitamin D supplementation on 25OHD levels and mechanisms by which 25OHD may exert these effects on lung function and aerobic fitness.

Additional Project costs: £10,000

Supervisors: Dr Raquel Revuelta Iniesta and Prof Craig Williams
Contact email: r.revuelta-iniesta@exeter.ac.uk

*****

Sport & Health Sciences, St Luke's campus, Exeter

Programme: MbyRes or PhD

Project Title: The role of a nutrition and physical activity intervention on aging in paediatric patients with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia

Project Description: Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) is the most common type of childhood cancer and arises from recurrent genetic abnormalities resulting in aberrant proliferation and survival of leukaemic lymphoblasts. Survival rates have reached 90% due to significant improvements in treatment and delivery of supportive care; however, treatment related toxicities remain a clinical challenge. Survivors of ALL have an earlier onset of chronic comorbidities, which include endocrinopathies, cardiac dysfunction, osteoporosis, pulmonary fibrosis, secondary cancers and frailty, than the general population. Telomere length and senescent cells are a hallmark of aging and telomere length is inversely associated with age (Smitherman et al. 2020). Cancer and its treatment have been associated with shortened telomere length and an increase in senescent cells. Furthermore, survivors of ALL have higher obesity rates, poorer diet and lower physical activity levels than matched healthy controls. Recently, an interventional study demonstrated that improvements in diet quality could contribute to an increase in telomere length in children and adolescents with abdominal obesity (Ojeda-Rodriguez et al. 2020), providing optimism for patients and survivors of ALL. This project will investigate the effects of a nutritional and physical activity intervention on premature aging in paediatric patients with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.

Additional Project costs: £10,000

Supervisors: Dr Raquel Revuelta Iniesta and Dr Chris Scotton
Contact email: r.revuelta-iniesta@exeter.ac.uk

*****


Sport & Health Sciences, St Luke's campus, Exeter

Programme: MbyRes (2 years max FT) or PhD (4 years max FT)

Project Title: Changes in critical speed and running economy during long distance running: influence of footwear

Project Description: The O2 cost of running, VO2 max and the ‘critical speed’ are important determinants of distance running performance but the extent to which they deteriorate during fatiguing endurance exercise is unknown. This project will investigate the time course and physiological and biomechanical bases of this deterioration and consider interventions - such as novel footwear - which might mitigate this decline and thus enhance performance.

Additional Project costs: Up to £500

Supervisors: Prof Andrew Jones, Prof Anni Vanhatalo
Contact email: a.m.jones@exeter.ac.uk

*****

Sport & Health Sciences, St Luke's campus, Exeter

Programme: MbyRes (2 years max FT) or PhD (4 years max FT)

Project Title: Physiological bases explaining changes in the power-duration relationship with endurance training

Project Description: Endurance training alters the shape of the power-duration relationship: critical power is increased and (perhaps surprisingly) the ‘curvature constant’ (W’) is often decreased. However, little is know about the adaptations in skeletal muscle metabolism that underpin these changes. In this project, muscle biopsy and magnetic resonance spectroscopy techniques will be employed to investigate the changes in the capacity of muscle to generate energy through oxidative and non-oxidative processes and to relate these to changes in the power-duration relationship resulting from an endurance training programme.

Additional Project costs: Up to £500

Supervisors: Prof Andy Jones, Prof Anni Vanhatalo
Contact email: a.m.jones@exeter.ac.uk

*****

Sport & Health Sciences, St Luke's campus, Exeter

Programme: MbyRes (2 years max FT) or PhD (4 years max FT)

Project Title: Using virtual reality to help older adults overcome anxiety about falling

Project Description: Virtual reality (VR) technologies are advancing rapidly and becoming increasingly available in domestic and healthcare settings. Working with sports psychologists - who specialise in helping athletes overcome performance anxiety in competition - student(s) carrying out this project will apply these strategies in the development of VR applications specifically designed to help older people (and people with Parkinson's) overcome anxiety about falling, thereby potentially improving their mobility and quality of life.

Additional Project costs: N/A

Supervisors: Dr William Young
Contact email: w.young@exeter.ac.uk

*****

Sport & Health Sciences, St Luke's campus, Exeter

Programme: MbyRes (2 years max FT) or PhD (4 years max FT)

Project Title: Using psychological strategies to help people with Parkinson's overcome motor symptoms

Project Description: People with Parkinson's can experience a range of motor symptoms including tremor and rigidity. One of the most debilitating symptoms is 'freezing of gait'; the feeling that one's feet are glued to the floor. Problems with balance and walking are exacerbated by anxiety and inefficiencies in the way people focus their attention. This project will explore ways to reduce anxiety and improve attentional processing through the development of novel movement strategies that could include biofeedback techniques and/or psychotherapy.

Additional Project costs: £400

Supervisors: Dr William Young
Contact email: w.young@exeter.ac.uk

*****

Sport & Health Sciences, St Luke's campus, Exeter

Programme: MbyRes (2 years max FT) or PhD (4 years max FT)

Project Title: Evaluating the impact of perturbation training on balance responses in older adults

Project Description: Perturbation training (inducing a fall/near-fall by rapidly moving the standing surface on which a participant stands) is receiving increased attention in the field of rehabilitation sciences and fall-prevention. At the University of Exeter, we have two facilities ((i) Motek M-Gait treadmill and (ii) VSimulators - www.vsimulators.co.uk) capable of evaluating a walkers' abilities to recover from a range of perturbations. This project aims to optimise and develop new ways of delivering this training in the hope of helping older adults improve their balance and maintaining/improving their mobility and quality of life. There are opportunities to incorporate virtual reality and brain imaging (e.g. fNIRS) in to this project.

Additional Project costs: £500

Supervisors: Dr William Young
Contact email: w.young@exeter.ac.uk

*****

Sport & Health Sciences, St Luke's campus, Exeter

Programme: MbyRes or PhD

Project Title: Clearing confusion from concussion

Project Description: 90% of sports related concussions are mild and occur without loss of consciousness. The symptoms of mild concussion are subtle, such as slowed reaction time, poor hand-eye coordination and an inability to ‘think clearly’. The mild concussion has serious potential consequences in the short-term effecting our ability to safely play sport or drive a car.

During this PhD you will work with the supervisory team to develop and validate quantitative pitchside tests for mild concussion in sports. You will work in both the laboratory and in a professional sports environment. We are looking for candidates with a range of skill sets, from engineering, applied psychology, biomechanics, mathematics to join our multidisciplinary team in this endeavour.

Additional Project costs: £300

Supervisors: Dr Genevieve Williams
Contact email: g.k.r.williams@exeter.ac.uk

*****

Sport & Health Sciences, St Luke's campus, Exeter

Programme: MbyRes or PhD

Project Title: The influence of sleep restriction on vascular and cognitive function

Project Description: One night of poor sleep may negatively influence cognitive function, whilst chronic sleep loss increases the risk of neurodegenerative diseases. This is a concern, given that 75% of the Great British public routinely sleep less than 7 hours per night. This project seeks to understand how sleep (sleep restriction) influences cognitive function, motor learning and biomarkers implicated in neurodegeneration, which include vascular function and potentially blood markers (depending on bench fees). Depending on whether this research is explored at MSc or PhD level, there is also scope to consider the role of exercise or nutritional interventions for the protection against sleep loss.

This is an exciting opportunity to perform novel and pertinent research which is interdisciplinary in nature. The project will benefit from the dedicated vascular research laboratories and techniques involved in the assessment of motor learning at the University of Exeter. The student will be trained to perform all measures, and supported in their wider scientific development. It is expected that this work will be highly publishable.

Additional Project costs: N/A

Supervisors: Dr Bert Bond and Dr Gavin Buckingham
Contact email: B.Bond@exeter.ac.uk

*****

Sport & Health Sciences, St Luke's campus, Exeter

Programme: MbyRes or PhD

Project Title: Ischaemic preconditioning: can repeated cycles of blood flow restriction improve macro- and micro-vascular function?

Project Description: Protecting or improving the function of arteries and capillaries is important for health and sports performance. Specifically, impairments in arterial and microvascular function are hallmarks of cardiometabolic disease, whilst improving oxygen delivery is important for athletic performance. Remote ischaemic preconditioning is a relatively new technique which involves repeated cycles of occlusion (blood flow restriction). This process has been shown to potentially improve arterial and capillary function – but this are of research is in its infancy. This project will explore this potential, and can be completed at MSc or PhD level, with or without bench fee contribution.

The student will be trained to perform a variety of vascular research techniques in our dedicated laboratories, and will join a supportive environment where their wider scientific skill set can be developed. The work is expected to be publishable.

 Additional Project costs: N/A

Supervisors: Dr Bert Bond
Contact email: B.Bond@exeter.ac.uk

*****

Sport & Health Sciences, St Luke's campus, Exeter

Programme: MbyRes or PhD

Project Title: The effects of dietary sugar on peripheral and cerebral vascular function

Project Description: The consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with poorer cardiometabolic health, and has therefore been targeted in recent public health campaigns. Alterations in blood vessel function are an important early step in the development of atherosclerosis, so there is a need to understand how sugary drink consumption might influence vascular function even in healthy young adults. Dietary sugar is typically sucrose – half glucose and half fructose. Our understanding of the acute influence of these different sugars on vascular function is poor. This project seeks to understand the acute influence of these sugars on peripheral and cerebral vascular function in order to shed light on an important public health question.

Training will be provided to perform all the vascular techniques. A contribution towards consumable costs for blood analyses (bench fees) can be discussed. This work can be completed as part of a MSc or PhD programme of work.

 Additional Project costs: Approximately £1,500

Supervisors: Dr Bert Bond
Contact email: B.Bond@exeter.ac.uk

*****

Sport & Health Sciences, St Luke's campus, Exeter

Programme: MbyRes or PhD

Project Title: Weightlifter's Blackout: Exploring the disruption to brain blood flow regulation after resistance exercise

Project Description: Cerebral autoregulation refers to the tight regulation of brain blood flow despite oscillations in blood pressure, and is altered in neurodegenerative diseases and stroke. Our laboratory have recently shown that the ability to defend a constant brain blood flow is acutely altered after resistance exercise. We are now seeking to understand whether cerebral autoregulation is altered by more extreme changes in blood pressure during very heavy weight lifting. For example, competitive lifters often experience “weightlifter’s blackout”. This project can be completed as a MSc or PhD, and the student will be trained to perform vascular ultrasound techniques to answer this interesting question. Bench fees can be discussed, but are expected to be minimal. This research is expected to be publishable.

Additional Project costs: £400

Supervisors: Dr Bert Bond
Contact email: B.Bond@exeter.ac.uk

*****

Sport & Health Sciences, St Luke's campus, Exeter

Programme: MbyRes or PhD

Project Title: Vibration injury - an under-studied pathway for neurodegenerative disease?

Project Description: There is a growing concern regarding the link between concussive and sub-concussive head impacts in sport and neurodegenerative disease. However, exposure to vibrations can also cause brain microtrauma by similar mechanisms, and this is widely overlooked. This project is an opportunity to understand how vibrations may influence cerebrovascular function and motor control. The research can be explored at MSc or PhD level, with and without the contribution of bench fees (please email Dr Bert Bond for an informal discussion).

This is an opportunity to join a supportive research group and perform novel and exciting research. The student will receive training to perform all research techniques, including the ability to quantify brain blood flow for the assessment of cerebral autoregulation via ultrasound techniques. It is expected that the student will publish this work.

 Additional Project costs: To be discussed

Supervisors: Dr Bert Bond, Dr Genevieve Williams
Contact email: B.Bond@exeter.ac.uk

Important Information

The projects linked or listed within this page are self-funded, therefore applicants will need to pay their own fees and living costs or have access to suitable third party funding such as a Doctoral loan or other sponsor.  In addition to the University’s standard tuitions fees, bench fees (research costs) may also be applied, details of which will be shown if appropriate to the project.

You are encouraged to contact the named supervisor to discuss the project opportunity prior to submitting an application.

A wide range of Masters by Research projects are available within the Geography department which can be found in the following link http://geography.exeter.ac.uk/research/mbyres/  The projects cover a wide range of research areas including Ocean, Ice and terrestrial system from physical geography but also research projects on urban futures from human geography.    

 

*****

Physical Geography, Streatham campus, Exeter

Programme: MbyRes (2 years max FT)

Project Title: Quantifying potential rates of carbon release from thawing permafrost soils

Project Description: Terrestrial ecosystems are currently absorbing more than one quarter of anthropogenic carbon emissions, and the fight against climate change relies on them continuing to do so. However, as the world warms there are concerns that feedbacks may develop in the Earth system which reduce rates of carbon uptake, or even promote carbon release into the atmosphere. One of the feedbacks that is giving scientist most ground for concern is the potential for substantial carbon release following the thaw of permafrost at northern high-latitudes. Permafrost soils store more carbon than all the trees on Earth and the atmosphere combined, so even a small proportional release of this carbon could have major impacts on future rates of climate change and affect the achievability of mitigation targets.

This Masters By Research project will investigate how rates of carbon release are controlled in thawed permafrost soils. Samples have been collected from contrasting soil types in northern Canada with different  chemical and physical properties. These samples offer major opportunities for novel laboratory experiments to develop mechanistic understanding of how future rates of carbon release may be controlled. Given the likely importance of the permafrost carbon feedback, the project has the potential for generating high-profile outputs.

Additional Project costs: n/a

Supervisors: Professor Iain Hartley, Dr Nina Lindstrom Friggens
Contact email: i.hartley@exeter.ac.uk

 

*****

Physical Geography, Streatham campus, Exeter

Programme: MbyRes (2 years max FT)

Project Title: Understanding decadal timescale changes in coral reef carbonate production rates in the US Virgin Islands

Project Description: Reef ecosystems globally have undergone significant ecological changes over the past several decades, but the scale and magnitude of change has been especially severe across the Caribbean region. This has resulted in widespread loss of major reef-building coral taxa and a reduction in reef structural complexity at many sites, and these changes have had profound impacts on the capacity of reefs to sustain critical ecosystem functions. However, whilst our knowledge of the timing and magnitude of ecological change on many reefs in this region is generally good, we have very little data on what the consequences of these changes have then been for rates of coral carbonate production over time. Have coral carbonate production rates remained consistently low since the loss of corals in the late 1980’s? Have changes in the abundance and size of remaining corals led to increases or decreases in carbonate production rates? What have been the consequences for the capacity of reefs to maintain their physical structures and to keep pace with sea level rise? This project will consider these questions through the analysis of a unique time-series dataset from the US Virgin Islands that spans the period 1993-2021. This record comprises data on the sizes of coral colonies captured in photo-quadrat datasets that can be used to assess any changes in coral carbonate production rates and the coral species that have contributed to coral carbonate production over this nearly 30 year period. This will involve adapting the existing ReefBudget coral production calculation methodology and working with this time-series dataset. The project will be largely desk-based but for the right applicant there may be opportunities to also get involved in overseas fieldwork on related projects.

Additional Project costs: N/A

Supervisors: Prof Chris Perry, Dr Ines Lange,

Contact email: c.perry@exeter.ac.uk

 

*****

 

Physical Geography, Streatham campus, Exeter

Programme: MbyRes (2 years max FT)

Project Title: Coral reef island exposure to future climate change scenarios

Project Description: Low-lying coral reef islands are considered highly vulnerable to future climate change. Rapid increases in sea-level are an immediate potential threat to island stability and habitability, but potentially just as significant are changes to wind/wave regimes and marine environmental parameters such as sea surface temperature and ocean chemistry. These can directly impact the surrounding reefs, which  represent the only source of sediment to maintain islands, and are critical to mitigating wave exposure. A growing body of recent research has significantly advanced our understanding of magnitudes of island change over the past few decades under recent sea level rise, with differing rates and magnitude of change evident to-date. However, a major limitation to our ability to explore reef island exposure to future trajectories of climate change is the lack of comprehensive global coverage data. The first phase of this project will thus involve the compilation of existing published and new data (e.g., from Google Earth imagery) on the location and basic metrics (island size, reef platform size, % urbanised) of reef island globally. The student will then use the resultant database to explore island exposure (how many, % of global cover, % presently inhabited etc) in different global regions to different magnitudes of future environmental parameter change (SLR regimes, SST, OA etc under different climate change scenarios). This will provide novel insights into global variations in reef island exposure to parameters that are projected to impact both the terrestrial (island) and marine (reef) components of these unique and socio-economically important landforms.

Additional Project costs: N/A

Supervisors: Professor Chris Perry, Dr Paul Halloran, Dr Stephen Palmer

Contact email: c.perry@exeter.ac.uk

 

***** 

Further project details will be available soon.

Important Information

The projects available below are self-funded, therefore applicants will need to pay their own fees and living costs or have access to suitable third party funding such as a Doctoral loan or other sponsor. In addition to the University’s standard tuitions fees, bench fees (research costs) may also be applied, details of which will be shown if appropriate to the project.

You are encouraged to contact the named supervisor to discuss the project opportunity prior to submitting an application.

 *****

Complex Living Systems, Streatham campus, Exeter

Programme: MbyRes or PhD

Project Title: Rational design of phage-antibiotic therapies as the new frontier for tackling antibiotic resistance

Project Description: We cannot see bacteria and viruses but there are around ten trillion of them in us or on us, thus ten times more the number of our own cells. Many bacteria are beneficial for us, some however, can cause infectious diseases such as meningitis or pneumonia. Indeed, bacterial infections are one of the leading causes of death worldwide and are estimated to lead to 300 million deaths by 2050. Antibiotics save millions of lives combatting infectious

diseases. However, several bacteria, particularly those having a double membrane that makes them more impermeable, are resistant to antibiotic treatment. Therefore, we urgently need to develop strategies to overcome the current impasse by enhancing the uptake of antibiotics in bacteria or by using complementary tools for eradicating bacteria such as phage that are viruses targeting bacterial but not human cells (Lancet Infect Dis 19, 2, 2018).

In order to understand the biological mechanisms underlying antibiotic and phage uptake in gram-negative bacteria, you will use a novel microfluidics technology that has recently been developed in Dr Pagliara’s team at the Living Systems Institute, University of Exeter (BMC Biol. 15, 121 2017; Lab on a Chip DOI: 10.1039/d0lc00242a 2020; http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/pa/article- 5201805) and fluorescent

derivatives of commonly used antibiotics and phage. Combined with a fluorescence microscope these microfluidic devices and fluorescent probes will allow you to measure antibiotics or phage entering or exiting individual bacteria as well as measuring the efficacy of these compounds in killing infecting bacteria.

Over the past ten years, single-microbe research has taken off around the globe engaging teams of scientists from different disciplines. As part of our battle against antibiotic resistance, by studying phage and antibiotic uptake in single bacteria your project will provide crucial novel knowledge for the development of new antibacterial therapies and a better use of existing ones.

Additional Project costs: N/A

Supervisors: Dr Stefano Pagliara
Contact email: s.pagliara@exeter.ac.uk

*****