Developing an effective ash-dieback Hymenoscyphus fraxineus detection, monitoring and modelling protocol using remote sensing and molecular screening


An opportunity to apply for a funded full-time PhD in the Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences at UWE Bristol. 

The expected start date of this studentship is 1 January 2023.

The closing date for applications is 19 August 2022.

Ref: 2223-JAN-HAS07

Please note: out of the eight projects being advertised for the Dean’s Studentship, the faculty will fund four. The projects for funding will be selected based on the merit of applicants following the process outlined below.

There will be a two stage interview process. Supervisory teams of each project will shortlist the best candidates for an initial interview with the supervisory team. Following this first interview, two candidates will be selected; a first-choice candidate and a reserve candidate. The first-choice candidate (or the reserve, if the first-choice candidate is unavailable) will then be interviewed by a Faculty Panel (the second interview). The Faculty Panel will be chaired by Pro-Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean and will consist of senior Faculty staff. The Faculty level interview will take place on the 31 October 2022.

Unsuccessful candidates will have the opportunity for self-funded places.

Studentship details

The project aims to develop an effective ash-dieback detection and monitoring protocol in ash Fraxinus excelsior trees using a combination of field, laboratory and statistical approaches. Using emerging techniques in UAV-mounted multispectral sensors and qPCR testing, the project will investigate the environmental and physical conditions associated with the invasive ascomycete pathogen Hymenoscyphus fraxineus.

The overall aim will be met through a series of project objectives:

  1. Identify and map the presence of symptomatic and asymptomatic canopy ash trees using field signs and UAV multi-spectral imagery.
  2. Confirm the H. fraxineus infection status of all ash trees within study sites using DNA analysis.
  3. Investigate the symptom severity of infected ash trees using established health assessment criteria and correlate with pathogen density in tissue samples and in the environment.
  4. Model the infection probability and infection severity using environmental, spatial, physical and co-infection attributes.

For an informal discussion about the studentship, please email or


This is a Dean’s PhD studentship and is funded for a period of three years, subject to satisfactory progress and includes a tax-exempt stipend, which is currently £16,602 per annum.

In addition, full-time tuition fees will be covered for up to three years. The studentship will also fully cover the research costs (consumables budget).


Applicants must have a BSc (2:1 or above) or equivalent degree in an appropriate discipline such as Plant Biology, Genetics, Molecular biology, environmental sciences or Forestry and ideally will have a Masters qualification from a UK university or a degree of comparable standing from a university outside the UK. The candidate’s degree relevant to the studentship should demonstrate their potential for practice-led research or alternative evidence of research aptitude. Experience in remote sensing, forestry fieldwork, tissue culture, plant-microbe interaction or woodland management would be desirable.

If applying from overseas, a recognised English language qualification is also required.

How to apply

Please submit your application online. When prompted use the reference number 2223-JAN-HAS07.

Supporting documentation:

  • A curriculum vitae (maximum 3 pages)
  • Copies of academic transcripts
  • A covering letter outlining your suitability for the studentship
  • A recent piece of critical writing you have completed (max 3000 words)
  • If English is not your first language, certification of English language qualification

References: you will need to provide details of two referees as part of your application. At least one referee must be an academic referee from the institution that conferred your highest degree. Your referee may be asked for a reference from the time you submit your application, so please ensure that your nominated referees are willing and able to provide references within 14 days of your application being submitted.  

Closing Date

The closing date for applications is 19 August 2022.

Further information

Please note that the following selection process applies.

Interviews by the prospective supervisory team will take place in the week commencing 12 September 2022. If you have not heard from us by that date, we thank you for your application but on this occasion you have not been successful.

Following the initial interview, two candidates will be selected; a first-choice candidate and a reserve candidate. The first-choice candidate (or the reserve, if the first-choice candidate is unavailable) will then undertake a second interview by a senior faculty panel on the 31 October 2022. The PhD will be awarded following a successful second interview.

You may also be interested in