Is it safe to go into the sea? Climate change and vibrio bacteria (CASE studentship with Cefas) (...

University of East Anglia
October 11 2017
Position Type
Full Time
Organization Type

Scientific background

There is huge uncertainty in terms of how climate change may affect human of health (IPCC 2014), and this PhD provides an exciting opportunity to explore these research questions.

Vibrios are Gram negative bacteria that grow in marine and estuarine environments. They thrive in warm, low salinity waters. Current climate warming is believed to be behind the significant increase in vibrio infections, especially in Europe. As such, vibrios are considered the pathogen group in Europe of greatest concern because of climate change (Baker-Austin et al., 2012). Rising sea temperature and vibrios are identified as a future risk for UK populations (Lake, 2016). However, a fundamental unknown is how their abundance and the incidence of vibrio infections will change as a consequence of climate change.

Research methodology

This PhD project will gather relevant climatic, epidemiological and oceanographic data, to develop a clear understanding of the role of climate warming on the expansion of these pathogens.

1. You will gather health datasets gathered by European disease surveillance centres and combine these with relevant climate data such as sea surface temperature and salinity to develop an understanding of the influence of environmental factors upon human health (i.e. vibrio infections). These outputs will be used to inform our real-time risk assessments (

2. You will apply the relationships uncovered in (1) to a number of regional climate models, for different levels of climate change, to generate future projections for vibrios and human illnesses in European waters.

3. Finally, you will model a number of future scenarios for vibrios taking into account likely population change, trends in the recreational use of coastal waters and possible intervention strategies to minimize the risk of infections.


You will be based at UEA but undergo training at Cefas Weymouth in molecular microbiological techniques, and use their laboratories for microbial analyses.

Secondary supervisor: Dr Craig Baker-Austin (Cefas)

Person specification

As a minimum you should have a good first degree (2:1 or higher) in science, geography or a related subject, but most of all have an interest how climate change may affect human health.


This project has been shortlisted for funding by the EnvEast NERC Doctoral Training Partnership, comprising the Universities of East Anglia, Essex and Kent, with over twenty other research partners. Undertaking a PhD with the EnvEast DTP will involve attendance at mandatory training events throughout the course of the PhD.

Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed on 12/13 February 2018.

Successful candidates who meet RCUK's eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC studentship - in 2017/18, the stipend is £14,553. In most cases, UK and EU nationals who have been resident in the UK for 3 years are eligible for a stipend. For non-UK EU-resident applicants NERC funding can be used to cover fees, RTSG and training costs, but not any part of the stipend. Individual institutes may, however, elect to provide a stipend from their own resources.

EnvEast welcomes applicants from quantitative disciplines who may have limited background in environmental sciences. Excellent candidates will be considered for an award of an additional 3-month stipend to take appropriate advanced-level courses in the subject area.

For further information, please visit

This job comes from a partnership with Science Magazine and Euraxess

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