Fully Funded MRes Scholarship: Novel Versatile Semiochemical Dispensers for Improved Pest Monitoring and Control

Swansea University - Biosciences

*This scholarship is part funded by the Welsh Government’s European Social Fund (ESF) convergence programme for West Wales and the Valleys.*

MRes for UK or EU applicants in the field of: Chemical Ecology/Applied Entomology (MRes Biosciences).

A fully funded 1-year Masters studentship in Chemical Ecology/Applied Entomology is available within the Department of Biosciences at Swansea University. The aim of this project is to develop novel dispensers for release of attractant and repellent semiochemicals (signalling molecules) to modify insect behaviour. Attractant compounds will be used in conjunction with traps to monitor insect pest species while repellent compounds will be used to protect plants from pests. The successful applicant will work under the supervision of Prof Tariq Butt and Dr Joel Loveridge. The project will involve  both lab and field based studies. The student will have the opportunity to acquire a range of skill sets including olfactometry, GC-MS and the design and execution of field trials in the UK and overseas.

Semiochemical dispenser design is just as important as the attractant/repellent compound. Although known in a variety of different designs, dispensers remain one of the few remaining technical bottlenecks along the way to a sustainable semiochemicals-based pest management strategy. Specifically, there is a need to match the properties of the semiochemicals, the release rates suitable for certain insect species, and the environmental requirements of specific crop management. The "ideal" dispenser should release semiochemicals at a constant but pre-adjustable rate, and should be easy to deploy and completely biodegradable (to save the costs for recovering spent dispensers). It should be made from inexpensive, toxicologically inert materials to provide satisfactory solutions for manufacturers and growers. The design should consider not just the release rate (which influences attraction) but also capacity (duration of release), ease of deployment (ergonomics) and cost (influences product marketability or sales).

The current project will develop new improved dispensers not just for existing lures but also for repellents. The products and strategies developed within this project will help the industry sponsor, Lisk & Jones, and their clients in accessing state-of-the-art technologies for use in the agri-forest and horticultural sectors but with the potential for being adapted for use in the health sector (protection against disease vectors such as mosquitoes). One of the client companies and potential stakeholders, Rainbow Professional Ltd, is offering support in the manufacture of the prototypes, giving much added  value to this project.

Academic requirements:

Candidates should have a 2.1 or above in their undergraduate degree in Entomology, Chemistry, Biosciences or a related subject.

Residency criteria:

Candidates should be eligible for UK/EU Fees.

Funding Details

The studentship covers the full cost of UK/EU tuition fees, plus a stipend. The bursary will be limited to a maximum of £11,586 p.a. dependent upon the applicant’s financial circumstances.

There will also be additional funds available for research expenses.

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