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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

PhD Studentship: The impacts of diesel pollution on honey bee neurology, behaviour and ecology

Published: 26 April 2011

Honey bee populations are in sharp decline globally. Bees are vital to the security of many of our food crops, through their provision of pollination services, and therefore it is important to understand the causes of population decline.

Bee pathogens, inadequate foraging habitats and pesticide usage are currently implicated in bee losses, however there are likely to be other causes which contribute to the current decline. Recent evidence from mammalian studies has demonstrated that exposure to diesel pollution can affect an individuals learning and memory, and exacerbate other co-morbidities. Diesel exhaust emissions remain a significant urban airborne pollutant in the UK. Our research team are currently investigating the novel idea that nanoparticulate diesel pollution reduces the ability of honey bees to detect floral odours and hence forage effectively, both by altering, or “mopping up”, chemicals in the air and by impacting on bees’ fitness. You will contribute to this work by researching the impacts of nanoparticulate pollution on the neurology, behaviour and ecology of honey bees. This will require you to learn and master techniques in neuroscience, molecular biology and behavioural ecology, providing you with a multidisciplinary skill set.

You will join a multi-disciplinary, cross faculty research team based in the new Life Sciences building at the University of Southampton. The University of Southampton provides a supportive and stimulating environment for post-graduate students. You will be expected to attend subject-specific and generic skills training courses and seminars as part of your research programme. In parallel you will have regular supervision sessions and will be involved in some undergraduate student supervision as you progress. You will be encouraged to present your findings at internal and external meetings and to contribute to the writing of papers for publication.

The studentship is open to candidates with the equivalent of a first or upper second class degree in the biological sciences (or predicted to achieve such a mark before October 1st 2011). In particular, applications are encouraged from students with an interest in neuroscience, chemical ecology or biochemistry. Prior experience of working with bees is preferable but not necessary. To apply please send your CV and a personal statement to either Tracey Newman ( or Robbie Girling (

Funding Notes:

This studentship is fully funded by the Gerald Kerkut Charitable Trust, covering University tuition fees (at UK/EU level) and provides a tax-free bursary of £13,590 per year, rising annually in line with the UK Government (research councils). This opportunity is only open to UK or EU nationals; International candidates who are able to provide supplementary tuition funding may also apply.

Application Deadline: May 13th 2011
Interview Date: Mid May 2011
Start Date: October 1st 2011

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