Postdoctoral Research Fellow
University of York
The aim of the lab, and of this project, is to use insect synthetic biology to develop new, safe, sustainable methods for reducing the harm caused by pest insects, particularly mosquitoes and mosquito-borne disease. This position is part of a new five-year project, selected by the European Research Council (ERC Advanced Grants, €2.5m) and now funded by the UK government through EPSRC.
Better methods for controlling mosquito-borne viruses are urgently required. One attractive approach is to release sterile male mosquitoes to mate wild females, thereby reducing their reproductive potential – the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT). The PI previously developed – and successfully took to field use – an improved variant of traditional SIT using engineered mosquitoes to provide “sterile male” properties; other methods of sterilisation are available, e.g. irradiation, use of Wolbachia, each with their advantages and disadvantages. However, SIT requires frequent releases of very large numbers of such males. A radical new SIT variant is proposed, which is sustainable and persistent – SuperSIT. Modelling suggests dramatic (20-100x) reduction in the number of males required. If successfully developed and deployed, this will provide the established (by the PI and others) benefits of effective, environmentally-friendly, species-specific control at much lower cost.
The aim of this project is to develop initial prototype strains and assess their performance in laboratory cage experiments.
Nominal start date is 01 Feb 2023 but potentially negotiable. It is anticipated that additional roles with later start dates will become available, across a range of grades, for which informal enquiries may be made to email@example.com.
The core of the project is to develop and test components, modules and systems for novel sterile-male systems in Aedes aegypti. Correspondingly, the main component of the role is to lead insect genetic studies (design and development of new transgenic/gene edited strains) and molecular biology (design and development of novel plasmids), communicating progress and data including leading manuscript preparation, and training/supervising other staff/students.
Skills, Experience & Qualification needed
PhD in a relevant biological science, or equivalent, with significant postdoctoral experience
Track record of research success; supervisory experience
Good communication skills, ability to write up research work for publication in high profile journals
Experience of working with insects
Dependable, reliable and self-motivated; good interpersonal skills; able to work as part of a team
Interview date : To be confirmed
For informal enquiries : please contact Prof Luke Alphey (firstname.lastname@example.org)