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Funded PhD Opportunity

Computational approaches to the analysis of microbial communities

Subject: Computer Science and Informatics


Background and Challenges

As one of the most complicated anaerobic microbial ecosystems in nature, the rumen provides an environment with stable and favorable physiological conditions for microbial growth and fermentation. A better understanding of the composition of rumen microbial communities and the association between host genetic and microbial activities has important applications and implication in bioscience. Our recent research indicates that integrated metagenomics and network analysis holds great promises in this endeavour thanks to their abilities to reveal the full extent of microbial gene diversity and complex microbial interactions. It is envisaged that inter-disciplinary, inter-institutional and industrial collaborations provided by ongoing projects will support the development of the project. During the lifetime of the project there will be opportunities to spend period of secondments to some other partners with a top–up allowance of up to €2,000 per month to support travel, accommodation and subsistence costs.

Aim and Objectives

Based on the collaboration with members within the MetaPlat consortium (, this project aims to develop a computational pipeline for the analysis of rumen microbial community. The main objectives include

(1) to understand the relationship between host genetic and microbiome composition and

(2) to identify networks of microbial genes associated with certain traits such as methane emissions.

Anticipated Research Outcome/Impact

A computational pipeline for network-based analysis of metagenomics data will be developed. The research will lead to both journal and conference publications. In addition, completion of the project will equip the student with a combination of programming, biomedical and data analytical skills that are highly sought after in industry and thus can significantly enhance the employability.

Essential criteria

  • Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC)

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • First Class Honours (1st) Degree
  • Masters at 70%



    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £ 14,777 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fees component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided).  For Non EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK.

Other information

The Doctoral College at Ulster University


As Senior Engineering Manager of Analytics at Seagate Technology I utilise the learning from my PhD ever day

Adrian Johnston - PhD in Informatics

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Key dates

Submission deadline
Monday 6 August 2018

Interview Date
mid August 2018

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