School of Mathematical Sciences

Studentship in Applied Mathematics/Mathematical Modelling/Mathematical Biology

School of Mathematical Sciences & School of Biosciences

Fully funded PhD studentship in Applied Mathematics/Mathematical Modelling/Mathematical Biology :

Analysing how hormone dynamics create plant root branches

Supervised by Dr Leah Band, Prof John King and Prof Malcolm Bennett
In collaboration with Prof. Tom Beeckman, University of Ghent.

Plant roots transport water and nutrients from the soil to the rest of the plant, enabling it to grow. Therefore understanding the processes regulating root growth and branching could enable us to produce root structures that maximise water and nutrient uptake and hence improve global food security. In this project, we shall focus on the role of the plant hormone auxin, which is known to control both the direction of the root growth (typically in the direction of gravity) and the formation of root branches.

Auxin moves between plant cells in a complicated manner, due to the spatial distribution of proteins on the cell membranes. This project will involve developing and analysing multicellular models that investigate how the auxin dynamics depend on both this cell-to-cell transport, and hence how these processes regulate root growth. In particular, we shall analyse some new experimental findings on the regulation of root branching, which cannot be explained with our existing models. We shall focus on deterministic models and use a range of techniques, including asymptotic analysis and numerical simulations (exploiting recent modelling developments within our groups).

This project will be based at the Centre for Plant Integrative Biology, a world-renowned centre for plant modelling, and will involve close collaboration with researchers from other disciplines. By working closely with Prof. Tom Beeckman at the University of Ghent and with other researchers within the University of Nottingham, we shall develop models that reflect the latest experimental findings and that generate novel predictions for testing by these experimental collaborators.

We require an enthusiastic graduate with a 1st class degree in Mathematics (in exceptional circumstances a 2(i) class degree can be considered), preferably of the MMath/MSc level. Candidates would need to be keen to work in an interdisciplinary environment and interested in learning about plant science; any experience in this field, or in mathematical biology more generally, would be a distinct advantage.

The studentship is available from September/October 2013 and provides an annual stipend at the standard rate (currently £13,590 per annum) and full payment of Home/EU Tuition Fees. The studentship period will depend on the training needs of the successful applicant.

Informal enquiries should be addressed to Dr Leah Band, email:

To apply, please use the online booking form quoting : Please quote ref: SCI/1233. This studentship is open until filled. Early application is strongly encouraged.

Posted on Monday 25th March 2013

School of Mathematical Sciences

The University of Nottingham
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Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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