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PhD position: Understanding the role of macaque ecology in the transmission of monkey malaria

Hiring Organization:
School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Durham University

Date Posted:
2012-12-21

Position Description:
We are seeking a PhD candidate to put forward for a Durham Doctoral Studentship to investigate the role of macaque behaviour and ecology in the transmission of monkey malaria in Malaysia.

Plasmodium knowlesi is a malaria parasite of primates which occasionally spills-over into human populations in South-East Asia. A large UK-led collaborative project is currently underway in Malaysia and the Philippines to explore the ecology of knowlesi malaria transmission and develop ways to reduce the threat of this disease. We propose to recruit a PhD student to explore how the behaviour and ecology of the primate hosts can help us better understand where and why ‘hot spots’ of malaria transmission occur.

This proposed project will involve GPS and radio-tracking wild macaques in malarial study sites in Malaysia. We will record their ranging patterns, seasonal movements and identify the factors determining sleeping site choice, and the degree to which these behaviours are related to land use changes. We will also determine whether the behaviour of these primates is related to mosquito biting densities. Mosquito collections will be made at roosting sites to identify the major vectors of knowlesi malaria. These studies will be linked with studies of mosquitoes ecology and to people and their movement into these ‘hot spots’ of transmission. This study is interdisciplinary requiring a deep understanding of primatology, to be integrated with entomological, parasitological and human movement data. This proposed project will require a specific emphasis on methods of spatial analysis of the data to identify hot spots of transmission.

Qualifications/Experience:
Suitable candidates should hold an undergraduate degree and masters degree in relevant disciplines (e.g. zoology, evolutionary anthropology). Durham Doctoral Studentships are made to outstanding candidates who can demonstrate very strong potential to perform at the doctoral level; our past experience suggests academic performance equivalent to first class marks at undergraduate level and distinctions at masters level is generally required to be competitive. Experience of fieldwork in the tropics and other relevant academic experience is an advantage.

Salary/funding:
Durham Doctoral Studentships cover a tax-free maintenance grant (currently £13,590 pending review), a fee-waiver at either the Home/EU or the Overseas rate and a research expenses allowance (RTSG). All research expenses related to fieldwork will be covered from the current collaborative project in Malaysia.

Term of Appointment:
Durham Doctoral Studentships are awarded for 3.5 years with a start date of 1st October 2013.

Application Deadline:
Monday 14th January 2013

Comments:
Candidates should email an application letter and full curriculum vitae to be considered for the project. The successful applicant with work with Professor Steve Lindsay and Dr Russell Hill to develop a full application for a Durham Doctoral Studentship for submission on 7th February 2013.

Contact Information:
Prof Steve Lindsay
School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Durham University, South Road,
Durham DH1 3LE
United Kingdom

Website:
https://www.dur.ac.uk/biosciences/about/schoolstaff/academicstaff/?id=28

E-mail Address:
s.w.lindsay@durham.ac.uk

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