Graduate student opportunities in infectious disease at Virginia Tech

Several infectious disease faculty within the College of Science at Virginia Tech are currently recruiting motivated and enthusiastic students with interest in disease ecology, epidemiology, and evolution. Infectious disease ecology is a rapidly expanding area of interest at Virginia Tech with multiple opportunities for cross-cutting interdisciplinary training. Recruiting faculty are members of multiple departments and interested students should contact specific advisors to discuss project and opportunities within those labs.

Kate Langwig, Biological Sciences, <a href="https://scholar.harvard.edu/klangwig">https://scholar.harvard.edu/klangwig</a>
Dana Hawley, Biological Sciences, <a href="https://www.biol.vt.edu/faculty/hawley/index.html">https://www.biol.vt.edu/faculty/hawley/index.html</a>
Lisa Belden, Biological Sciences, <a href="https://www.belden.biol.vt.edu/">https://www.belden.biol.vt.edu/</a>
Leah Johnson, Statistics &amp; Biological Sciences, <a href="http://leah.johnson-gramacy.com/QED/">http://leah.johnson-gramacy.com/QED/</a>
Lauren Childs, Mathematics, <a href="https://www.math.vt.edu/people/lchilds/index.html">https://www.math.vt.edu/people/lchilds/index.html</a>
Stanca Ciupe, Mathematics, <a href="https://www.math.vt.edu/people/stanca/">https://www.math.vt.edu/people/stanca/</a>

Virginia Tech combines world-class research opportunities with a high quality of life. The cost of living is relatively low in Blacksburg, VA, and there are ample opportunities for outdoor recreational activities (hiking, kayaking, mountain biking etc.).

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Langwig Lab

The Langwig lab in the Department of Biological Sciences at Virginia Tech is currently recruiting enthusiastic and motivated Ph.D. students beginning in fall 2019. Students are expected to develop independent projects in disease ecology and evolution that complement work in the lab. Ongoing projects include both theoretical and empirical work on both human and wildlife disease systems, and a primary system of focus is white-nose syndrome in bats. Potential research projects include heterogeneity in host-pathogen interactions, mechanisms of host-pathogen persistence, and wildlife disease ecology and conservation.

Interested applicants should have a strong interest in disease ecology and evolution, and a passion to positively influence science, conservation, and global health. Students are expected to obtain quantitative skills, and learn some programming. Students with previous experience in math, statistics, engineering, and computer science are especially encouraged to apply.

More details about work in the Langwig lab can be found here. Prospective students should include a statement of research interests in the email text, a CV, and list of at least three references to klangwig AT vt.edu with the subject "Prospective Graduate Student".

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Hawley Lab

The Hawley lab in the Department of Biological Sciences at Virginia Tech (https://www.biol.vt.edu/faculty/hawley/) is looking for motivated individuals interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in vertebrate disease ecology. Research in the Hawley Lab takes an integrative approach to disease ecology and evolution, addressing topics such as the host microbiome and disease dynamics, bidirectional interactions between host behavior and disease, the ecology and evolution of host tolerance, and the evolution of pathogen virulence. Ph.D. students are generally expected to develop their own projects within the lab’s general focus. For Fall 2019, the Hawley lab is looking for a Ph.D. student interested in addressing the role of the host microbiome in disease dynamics, using house finches and the naturally-occurring bacterial pathogen Mycoplasma gallisepticum as a model system. Although candidates are encouraged to pursue extramural funding opportunities, accepted Ph.D. students are guaranteed 5 years of funding (including summers) through a combination of teaching assistantships and graduate research assistantships. Students in the Hawley Lab are also eligible to apply for the Interfaces of Global Change program (http://www.globalchange.vt.edu/igc/), an exciting interdisciplinary Ph.D. program only offered at Virginia Tech.

The Hawley lab seeks a diversity of graduate students and strives to be a safe space for all individuals. Interested students should contact me directly (hawleyd@vt.edu) and include a brief summary of your past research experience and interests, your CV, and a sample of scientific writing (this could be a manuscript in preparation, an undergraduate thesis, or simply a research paper from a class). Preference will be given to applicants who have prior experience with independent research, preferably in ecology or a related field. Formal applications are due to the graduate school by Dec 1st, but I will begin reviewing informal applications (those sent directly to me) on Oct 10th and I will notify students as to whether or not they should formally apply by Nov 10th.

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Belden Lab
In the Belden Lab (https://www.belden.biol.vt.edu/) at Virginia Tech we primarily study community ecology, with a focus on understanding how complex communities influence disease dynamics in natural systems. Most of our work has focused on addressing these questions in the symbiotic microbial communities that reside on amphibian skin and in communities of freshwater trematode parasites. However, our work has expanded in recent years to include some new and exciting systems, including song birds, honey bees and wheat. I will be recruiting 1-2 students to join the lab in fall, 2019. At least one of these positions will be to work on honey bees and their Nosema parasites. Interested students can send me an email (belden@vt.edu), and attach a CV with GRE scores (the GRE scores are for the University to make sure you meet the minimum requirements) and a 1 page outline of a few project ideas that you would be interested in if you were to join the lab, a summary of your past research experience and a little bit about your career goals.  I use that to gauge where your specific interests and skills fit with both my interests and with other students already in the lab.

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Johnson (QED) Lab

The Quantitative Ecological Dynamics lab (QED Lab --- http://leah.johnson-gramacy.com/QED/) we seek to answer biological questions using quantitative tools, including mathematical, statistical, and computational modeling. We work on a broad range of ecological and biological problems, with a current primary focus on the ecology of vector-borne infections (such as dengue, Zika, chikungunya, blue tongue, and citrus greening). Other recent and current project include foraging and bioenergetics of albatrosses, the thermal ecology of chytridiomycosis, and statistical inference for ecosystem models.

Students in my lab may pursue PhDs in quantitative biology (through the biology department) or applied statistics (through the statistics department). Students in the PhD biology track may also purse a concurrent Masters of Arts in Statistics through the DAAS program (http://analytics.cs.vt.edu/edu-daas.php). Alternative individualized pathways are possible through Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs at Virginia Tech. Students in the QED Lab are also eligible to apply for the Interfaces of Global Change program (http://www.globalchange.vt.edu/igc/). Prospective students should have either a strong mathematical background (especially those interested in the Statistics PhD option) or be willing to develop quantitative (mathematical and statistical) skills as part of their PhD. Students typically design their own research projects within the broad interests of the lab and are funded over 5 years by a combination of teaching and research funding. The specific funding available depends on the program of study.

Students interested in joining my lab should contact me directly via e-mail at lrjohn AT vt.edu and include a brief statement of research interests and experience, CV, and indicate which program you are most interested in (i.e., Biology or Statistics). I will begin reviewing informal applications in mid-October and notify students about making a formal application by mid-November.

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Childs Lab

The Childs lab in the Department of Mathematics at Virginia Tech is looking for motivated individuals interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in mathematical biology (through the Mathematics Department or the interdisciplinary graduate program GBCB: Genomics, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology). Research in the Childs Lab focuses on developing and analyzing mathematical and computational models of infectious disease dynamics within individual hosts and at a population level. Special attention is given to tropical infectious diseases including malaria, dengue, Zika and Ebola.

Interested applicants should have a strong quantitative background and an interest in addressing applied questions delving into biological applications. Students will be expected to design their own projects in line with research interests of the lab. Candidates are strongly encouraged to pursue extramural funding opportunities (e.g. NSF Graduate Fellowship). Accepted students to the Mathematics Ph.D. program (requires a masters’ degree) are guaranteed 4 years of funding through a combination of teaching assistantships and graduate research assistantships. Accepted Ph.D. students to the GBCB program are funded primarily through graduate research assistantships. 

Prospective students should send an email to lchilds AT vt.edu with the subject “Prospective Graduate Student” including in the text a short statement of research interests; and in an attachment a CV, an unofficial transcript, and a list of references. Preference will be given to applicants who have prior experience with independent research. Formal applications are due to the graduate school (https://graduateschool.vt.edu/admissions/how-to-apply.html). Applications to the Mathematics Department and the GBCB program are due by Jan 1st.

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Ciupe Lab

The Ciupe lab in the Department of Mathematics at Virginia Tech is looking for motivated individuals interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in mathematical biology (through the Mathematics Department or the interdisciplinary graduate program GBCB: Genomics, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology). Research in the Ciupe Lab focuses on developing and analyzing mathematical models with applications to biology and medicine. We focus on characterization of immune system onset and reaction against viral diseases such as Human Immunodeficiency Virus infection, Hepatitis B and Dengue virus infections, on understanding the possible homeostatic mechanisms regulating lymphocyte population sizes and diversity, and on understanding the molecular pathways responsible for cellular decision making. The techniques we use derive from dynamical systems, information and model selection theory as well as sensitivity, perturbation and numerical analysis.

Interested applicants should have a strong quantitative background and an interest in biological applications. Accepted students to the Mathematics Ph.D. program (requires a masters’ degree) are guaranteed 4 years of funding through a combination of teaching assistantships and graduate research assistantships. Accepted Ph.D. students to the GBCB program are funded primarily through graduate research assistantships. 

Prospective students should send an email to stanca AT vt.edu with the subject “Prospective Graduate Student” including in the text a short statement of research interests and passed experiences with research; and in an attachment a CV, an unofficial transcript, and a list of references. Formal applications are due to the graduate school (https://graduateschool.vt.edu/admissions/how-to-apply.html). Applications to the Mathematics Department and the GBCB program are due by Jan 1st.

Type
PhD position
Institution
Virginia Tech
City
Blacksburg
Country
USA
Closing date
December 15th, 2018
Posted on
September 18th, 2018 16:15
Last updated
September 18th, 2018 16:15
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