Biological Sciences (Evolution, Ecology and Behaviour) MPhil/PhD

Major code: BIMR/BIPR


About us

Institute of Integrative Biology

The Institute is managed in thre departments: Biochemistry; Functional and Comparative Genomics; Evolution, Ecology and Behaviour.

  • Academic and research staff: 220
  • Postgraduate research students: 150

The Institute is managed in three departments: Biochemistry; Functional and Comparative Genomics; Evolution, Ecology and Behaviour.

Academic and research staff: 220
Postgraduate research students: 150
As an Institute devoted to Integrative Biology, we span the range of biosciences from the fine-scale resolution of biomolecular structure through the genome-wide analysis of cells and organisms, to the evolution and ecology of organisms in their natural environment.

Underpinning this diversity, we offer World class facilities and infrastructure for research, and superb links to internationally excellent partners in both the academic and industrial sectors.

Our research seeks to answer fundamental questions, and to address key issues of contemporary concern. We were awarded a prize in the UK-wide BBSRC 2011 ‘Excellence with Impact’ competition, which commended the work of our graduate students in impact activities.

Our PhD completion rates are ranked amongst the highest in the UK by the Times Higher Education Supplement, one of only two Universities to have repeatedly ranked in the top four Institutions. Furthermore, our complementary training programme was awarded the highest grade in the QAA review of all HEI PGR training.

Our PhD programme is financed by substantial training grants from the main UK Government Research Councils, including the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the Natural Environment Research Council and The Medical Research Council , as well as charitable trusts, such as North West Cancer Research, overseas governments and industrial collaborators.

Staff research interests

http://www.liv.ac.uk/integrative-biology/staff/

Greg Hurst

My most important teaching element is probably the students I welcome into my lab group to do their BSc, MRes, MSc and PhD projects. Here, we have a very personal relationship, and I very much enjoy watching people develop, start to plan their own programmes, and begin to challenge me in my research area! It is also great when they manage to publish their work – last year the project work of 3 of my BSc students and one of the Master’s students made it through to peer-reviewed publication. One of the papers was highlighted in ScienceDaily, which was terrific – it’s great to do science for yourself, but even better to do science people want to hear about! (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110808104524.htm

What does your work/research entail?

My lab thesis is that parasite and pathogens are dominant forces in biology. They drive population size, community diversity. They drive much of evolution. They alter individual behaviour, and much of animal design and physiology have evolved to prevent, clear or tolerate infection. From tears to saliva, from colouration to mate choice, parasites are there!

 Biology as a life science happens outside labs. Part of my work involves examining the dynamics of pathogens, and of the effect of pathogens, in the natural environment. I work on butterflies on South Pacific islands, small parasitic wasps in North America, and ladybird beetles in Europe.

 The work is multidisciplinary, and I work with molecular biologists, Drosophila geneticists, genomic and transcriptomic experts, alongside ecologists and mathematical biologists. You can’t understand mechanism without understanding evolution; you can’t understand evolution without understanding mechanism.

What modules do you teach on which programmes?  Do you teach large/small groups?  What have some of your students gone on to do? 

I teach years 1-3 Evolution, Ecology and behaviour – I love year 1 as it is big picture evolution, aimed at all biologists. I teach M level Evolutionary informatics.

My most important teaching element is probably the students I welcome into my lab group to do their BSc, MRes, MSc and PhD projects. Here, we have a very personal relationship, and I very much enjoy watching people develop, start to plan their own programmes, and begin to challenge me in my research area! It is also great when they manage to publish their work – last year the project work of 3 of my BSc students and one of the Master’s students made it through to peer-reviewed publication. One of the papers was highlighted in ScienceDaily, which was terrific – it’s great to do science for yourself, but even better to do science people want to hear about! (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110808104524.htm)

What do you love most about the University of Liverpool?

The students are grand. I really like my colleagues too- they are very collegiate, and I certainly gain from their expertise and experience.

Why should prospective students study a postgraduate qualification here?

For the same reason I enjoy being here. You can gain a lot from the expertise and experience of the staff.

What are the benefits?

Aside first rate research projects at the edge of science being done, you also gain from our contacts in other Universities, and mentorship in taking the next step. The laboratory facilities are also really good.

What does your department/subject, in particular, offer a prospective student?

The ability to understand the biggest question in the world: how does the natural environment ‘run’ and how does biodiversity come about? A small task – it’ll take us some time, but he journey is about as much fun as a job can be!

Other comments?

I’m going to borrow from Einstein: ‘if we knew what we were doing, it wouldn’t be called research.’ Science is like exploration, we work at the boundaries of what we know, trying to solve the next problem.