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PhD position: Mathematical theory of tumour evolutionary modes

  • 15 Apr 2022
  • City, University of London, UK
Applications are invited for a PhD studentship in the Department of Mathematics. The successful candidate will use mathematical methods to investigate cancer evolution.

The aim is to develop a general mathematical understanding of how the diverse evolutionary modes observed in human tumours arise from their evolutionary parameter values and spatial structures, extending recent results obtained using stochastic simulations (Noble et al. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 2021).

This map from parameters to emergent biological properties has important implications for cancer prevention, prognosis, and treatment.

The project will involve some combination of computational modelling, analysis of spatial stochastic processes, evolutionary theory, and data analysis, according to the successful candidate’s interests and expertise. Results will be compared to clinical data.

The student will join a group of mathematical biologists working on projects related to cancer, stochastic models, structured populations, and multiplayer games. They will benefit from the supervisor’s international networks of collaborators in mathematical oncology and cancer evolution.

Eligibility and requirements

The candidate should have (or will soon have) a good honours degree in mathematics, physics, computational biology or another scientific discipline that has equipped them with strong analytical skills.

Especially competitive candidates will have training in stochastic processes, some computer programming skills (e.g. in Python, C, or R), and a demonstrable interest in answering biological or biomedical questions. Prior research experience in mathematical biology is desirable but not essential.

A doctoral candidate is expected to meet the following pre-requisites for their PhD:

  1. Demonstrate a sound knowledge of their research area
  2. Achieve and demonstrate significant depth in at least a few chosen sub-areas relevant to their primary research area
  3. Demonstrate the ability to conduct independent research, including a critical assessment of their own and others’ research
  4. Publish high-quality papers in reputable peer-reviewed conferences and journals.


The studentship is for 3 years and will provide full coverage of tuition fees (Home and Overseas) and an annual tax-free stipend of £12,000.

Each student would also have the opportunity to earn around £2.2K pa on an average (max. is around £4.3K pa) through a teaching assistantship. We shall prioritise these scholarship holders while allocating the teaching assistantships.

How to apply

If you are interested in applying, you are encouraged to email initial informal enquiries to Dr Robert Noble (robert.noble@city.ac.uk).

Visit our Mathematics research degrees web page for further information on making a formal application. When submitting your proposal, enter the title “Mathematical theory of tumour evolutionary modes” and you will automatically be considered for this studentship.

The online application can be found in the ‘How to apply section’ in the web link above and should include the following supporting documents:

  • Copies of Degree Certificates and Transcripts in official English translation - original will be requested before an offer is made.
  • Official work e-mail addresses (not private ones) for two referees (one of which must be an academic).
  • Proof of English Language proficiency (minimum average score of 6.5 IELTS, with a minimum of 6.0 in each of the four components) if English is not your first language.
  • Passport.

The outcome of the selection process should be announced by the end of May. The successful candidate will formally start their doctorate either in July or in October 2022.

For queries regarding the application process, please email the School at pgr.smcse.enquire@city.ac.uk

Equality, diversity and inclusion

City, University of London is committed to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion in all its activities, processes, and culture, for our whole community, including staff, students and visitors.

We welcome applications regardless of gender, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or social class. For more information on our approaches to encouraging an inclusive environment, please see our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion pages at https://www.city.ac.uk/about/vision-and-strategy/equality

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