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School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences

Molecular adaptations underpinning innate immunity in bats

  • Supervisors: Prof Stephen Rossiter 
  • Funding: Queen Mary Principal's Studentship
  • Deadline: 30th November 2022

The following fully-funded PhD studentship is available in the School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences with an expected start date of Jan 2023.

Research environment

The School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences at Queen Mary offers a multi-disciplinary research environment, and is home to around 150 PhD students working across the biological and behavioural sciences. Our students have access to a variety of research facilities supported by experienced staff, as well as a range of student support services.

The Rossiter group has a strong international track record of research on the molecular ecology and evolution of bats and other mammals.

Training and development

Our PhD students become part of Queen Mary’s Doctoral College which provides training and development opportunities, advice on funding, and financial support for research. Our students also have access to a Researcher Development Programme designed to help recognise and develop key skills and attributes needed to effectively manage research, and to prepare and plan for the next stages of their career.

This advertised project will combine the generation and analysis of genomic  data, with comparative methods of trait evolution. The successful candidate should have a strong background in a relevant subject, such as evolutionary biology, bioinformatics or molecular biology. Training will be provided in the necessary methods as required.

Project description

This project aims to uncover molecular adaptations that underpin anti-viral immunity in bats. Bats appear to act as natural host reservoirs of viruses, and have been implicated as the likely source of recent virus outbreaks, including SARS, MERS, and SARS CoV2. Despite this, the genetic basis of viral tolerance in bats, and the diversity of immune specialisations across bats, is not known. In particular, we do not know whether the consistent involvement of some bats lineages arises due to the presence of particular adaptations, or whether instead this is due to sampling bias. For this project, the student will perform sequencing and analysis of immune genes and pathways across a broad diversity of bats. Unique changes will be related to known information on viral load, ecology and range.

Eligible applicants are encouraged to contact Prof Rossiter with a CV and cover letter in the first instance (


The studentship is funded by Queen Mary and will cover home tuition fees, and provide an annual tax-free maintenance allowance for 3 years at the UKRI rate (£19,668 in 2022/23).

For international students interested in applying, please note that this studentship only covers home tuition fees and students will need to cover the difference in fees between the home and overseas basic rate. Tuition fee rates for 2023-24 are to be confirmed. Details on current (2022-23) tuition fee rates can be found at: 

Eligibility and applying

Applications are invited from outstanding candidates with or expecting to receive a first or upper-second class honours degree in an area relevant to the project (biology, genetics, bioinformatics). A masters degree is desirable, but not essential. We are especially interested in students who have coding and/or quantitative skills.

Applicants from outside of the UK are required to provide evidence of their English language ability. Please see our English language requirements page for details:

Informal enquiries about the project can be sent to Prof Stephen Rossiter ( Formal applications must be submitted through our online form by the stated deadline including a CV, personal statement and qualifications.

The School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences is committed to promoting diversity in science; we have been awarded an Athena Swan Silver Award. We positively welcome applications from underrepresented groups. 

Apply Online

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