PhD Opportunities

Apply for a PhD

through the University web pages HERE or through Find a PhD HERE

Please apply through the Institute for Molecular Plant Sciences link

Lab team work!!

PhD Opportunities

We are seeking highly motivated PhD candidates and are keen to assist outstanding individuals with applications for funding, including scholarships, their integration into the research group, and the Department.

We are looking for highly motivated students who are interested in working in the areas outlined below. The Halliday lab has a strong EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY agenda and we particularly encourage applications from "under-represented" groups.

Our Research

Molecular signalling: Define the environment-controlled molecular mechanisms that regulate plant growth and development. (molecular-genetics, physiology)

Modelling: Build mathematical models that can predict molecular or physiological biological behaviour. (maths/physics)

Crop development for the future: Develop food crops that can withstand the climate change. (molecular-genetics, physiology)

Social Impact: Study the ethics and social implications of translating scientific advancements. (social/political science) - Note this area is closed for this academic year 2016-17

PhD projects are advertised each Fall, but if you think you would like to join our lab - we strongly encourage you to contact us earlier in the year

Contact:, Tel. +44 +131 651 9083


Descriptions of PhD positions for 2016-17

These projects provide opportunities to work on cutting edge science that address the global challenge of food security. 

Project 1: How does light really control plant biomass? 

Plants use external light in two ways: as a signal that provides information about the environment and as a source of energy to drive photosynthesis and growth. The molecular basis of light signalling has been intensively researched (1) however we do not understand how light signalling is integrated with photosynthesis and metabolism to optimise growth. This project seeks to: 1. elucidate the molecular connections between the environmental light sensors (ELS) and core plant metabolism; 2. establish the impact of ELS on the production and deployment of resources for growth. This new knowledge will be used to devise novel strategies to maximise carbon uptake in crops to improve biomass and yield.  

The project builds on recent findings that illustrate that the ELS, phytochrome is a principle regulator of photosynthetic gene transcription and CO2 assimilation (2,3). Using a wealth of genetic material and molecular tools, the central aim of the PhD will be to determine how phytochrome impacts carbon uptake, storage and use. The principal phytochrome-activated molecular mechanisms will be determined providing the first in-depth understanding of how ELS and carbon metabolism are coordinated.     

Project 2: Weather-proof plants 

Security of our future food supply will depend on an improved understanding of how plants regulate photosynthesis and biomass in response to climate change. This project aims to determine how temperature regulates the molecular pathways that control plant biomass and photosynthetic capacity. Building on recent findings in the model plant Arabidopsis, the study will elucidate the molecular mechanisms in cells that protect the plant from the day-to-day changes in the weather. Data generated will be used to inform the development of mathematical models that predict how plants respond to different weather patterns. This new knowledge will allow us to develop strategies to produce crops that are more weather proof or tolerate higher temperatures. It will also help us to understand how climate change will affect our natural habitats.