Current scholarship opportunities

Open funding opportunities

Please see below for details of currently advertised PhD and Research Master's funding and scholarship opportunities offered at UCD or by funding agencies. 


Please note that this does not represent an exhaustive list and students are advised to contact the UCD School in which they are interested in studying to ask about current funding possibilities. You can also find helpful guidance on PhD applications in the 'Planning' phase of the UCD PhD Lifecycle

'Sustainable Control of Internal Parasites of Sheep'
Ref Walsh Scholarship Number: 2024041

Start Date: September 2024


Background

The Irish pasture-based sheep production system results in lambs being continuously exposed to gastrointestinal nematodes (GIN), which compromise animal health, welfare and productivity. Our farming system relies heavily on the availability of anthelmintic drugs to control these parasites in growing lambs. However, recent studies have demonstrated the presence of resistant GIN in Ireland, with GIN resistant to all three commonly available anthelmintics found on a small number of farms. Sustainable parasite control practices that reduce GIN exposure and optimise the use of anthelmintics and slow the further development of anthelmintic resistance are urgently required.

Project Outline

This Walsh PhD Scholarship proposes to characterise the major species of GIN in Ireland infecting lambs and ewes and to identify the anthelmintic resistance status of different species. Application of this knowledge will be utilised to inform management protocols to optimise lamb performance while reducing the selection pressure for anthelmintic resistance development. Replacement of resistant sheep GIN populations on pasture with susceptible populations will also be investigated as a strategy to recover anthelmintic susceptibility on farms where triple resistance is already present at a high frequency.

Objectives

  • To implement high-throughput, molecular methods of sheep GIN species identification and apply these methods to determine the seasonality, stock distribution and resistance status of the major sheep GIN species in Ireland.
  • To investigate animal and grazing management strategies to optimise performance while reducing GIN exposure.
  • To investigate the feasibility of replacing a resistant GIN population on pasture in Ireland with a susceptible population.
  • To quantify the effectiveness and long-term sustainability of the replacement strategy.

In addition to research training in parasitology, animal production and molecular biology, the successful candidate will be encouraged to participate in the comprehensive training opportunities offered by Teagasc and UCD and are expected to attend national and international meetings.

Requirements

Applicants should have a 2.1 degree or higher in biology, zoology, veterinary, agricultural or natural science or a related subject. Candidates must be enthusiastic and willing to work as part of a multidisciplinary team of scientists.

Award

The student will be registered for a higher degree at University College Dublin. The scholarship funding includes a flat rate stipend of €25,000 per annum plus EU University registration fees and is tenable for 4 years. The position will be primarily based at the Teagasc Mellows Campus, Athenry, Co. Galway.

Further information

Please contact Dr Orla Keane, Dr. Philip Creighton or Prof. Theo de Waal for further details using the details below.

Application Procedure

Interested candidates should forward a letter of interest and CV, including the contact details of at least two referees.

Dr. Orla Keane
Teagasc
orla.keane@teagasc.ie

Dr. Philip Creighton
Teagasc
philip.creighton@teagasc.ie

Prof. Theo de Waal
UCD
theo.dewaal@ucd.ie

Closing date: 10 June 2024

UCD School of Education is seeking to recruit one PhD candidate to work on a research project exploring critical thinking and scientific reasoning in national curricula and high-stakes assessment under the supervision of Dr Olga Ioannidou.

The successful applicant will receive a three-year scholarship covering full tuition fees, a stipend, and a research fund to work at the UCD School of Education, a leader in the field of education, with over 100 years of service to the wider education community in Ireland. The research project will explore models of teaching, learning, and assessment of critical thinking skills primarily in Ireland and Europe, but proposals to examine other relevant contexts through comparative analysis are welcome. The successful applicant will have the opportunity to work closely with the team of the national study of Irish primary schooling, Children’s School Lives (CSL). On successful completion of the project, the candidate will be awarded a PhD in Education from University College Dublin.

The successful candidate is expected to start in September 2024 and will receive the following financial support for 3 years:

  • Full funding for tuition fees
  • A stipend of €22,000 per annum to assist with living expenses
  • Research allowance of €4,000

This is a full-time position for the three-year duration of the PhD programme starting in September 2024.

Eligibility 

  • Applications are accepted from candidates from Ireland, the EU and worldwide
  • An academic background in Education 
  • High honours in an appropriate Master’s degree

How to apply

The application must be submitted via email to olga.ioannidou@ucd.ie  no later than 15 June 2024 23:59 Irish Time (with ‘Ad Astra PhD application’ in the subject line of the email) and must include:

  • Proof of English proficiency (IELTS of 7 total score, with no band below 6.5; alternatively, a Master’s degree obtained from an English-speaking institution within the past 3 years from the date of application)
  • Diploma and transcripts of academic records (undergraduate and postgraduate)
  • A CV 
  • A supporting statement of no more than two pages (font size 12) outlining their academic and professional experience relevant to this project
  • Two letters of recommendation

Find out more

Enquiries can be directed via email to the lead investigator, Dr Olga Ioannidou at olga.ioannidou@ucd.ie.

For more information about the structure of the PhD programme in Education consult the UCD School of Education website.

Project title: Muscling in on MASH - Targeting muscle-liver crosstalk in metabolic dysfunction-associated steatohepatitis.

PhD supervisor: Dr Christopher Shannon

Start date: September 2024

Location: UCD Conway Institute, University College Dublin, Ireland

Stipend: €22,000/year + EU tuition fees

About the project: The incidence of obesity-related complications, including type 2 diabetes and metabolic dysfunction-associated steatohepatitis (MASH), is on the rise. MASH is projected to impact 100 million people globally by 2030 and has become a leading cause of liver-related mortality. Despite this, treatment options remain limited. Traditionally, drug development for MASH has focused on liver fat and fibrosis. However, the complex aetiology of obesity-related disease involves multiple organs. Understanding how inter-organ crosstalk contributes to the onset, progression, or resolution of MASH can lead to innovative therapeutic approaches. This project will explore the interplay between skeletal muscle and liver in the context of MASH.

Skeletal muscle health is crucial for metabolic homeostasis and peripheral insulin sensitivity. While muscle dysfunction and atrophy have been associated with MASH progression, the underlying physiologic and molecular mechanisms remain poorly understood. The successful candidate will establish cell models of muscle-liver crosstalk to investigate MASH disease mechanisms and evaluate emerging therapeutics. The student will learn a variety of lab techniques (cell culture, molecular biology, stable isotope tracing, flow cytometry) and transferable skills (statistics, project management, writing, public outreach and engagement), and will have the opportunity to present their work at international conferences and publish peer reviewed manuscripts. Formal module-based training is available in the first years of the PhD as outlined here.

Research environment: The Shannon lab is based in the UCD Conway Institute, a richly collaborative interdisciplinary research centre supporting a vibrant community of 100 faculty, 100 postdoctoral fellows and 250 graduate students. Our lab is also part of the Diabetes Complications Research Centre.

Required qualifications and experience: The candidate should be highly motivated and passionate about research and have an MSc or BSc (minimum 2.1) in Physiology, Health Sciences, Cell Biology, Pharmacology or similar.

To apply: Send CV, cover letter, and references to Christopher.shannon@ucd.ie. Informal enquiries welcome. 

Application deadline: 1 July 2024

Fully funded PhD Positions in Cancer Research #META-CHIP

University College Dublin

Development of a lung metastasis-on-a-chip model for osteosarcoma as a biomimetic testing platform for drug discovery and therapeutic innovation

About this project: Osteosarcoma is a highly aggressive bone cancer largely affecting children. Treatment is often radical and debilitating, and despite the clinical urgency for newer more effective therapies, there has been no change in treatment options since the introduction of chemotherapy in the 1970s. As result the current 5-year survival rate in aggressive forms of osteosarcoma is still below 20%. Accelerating cures for those poor outcome patients remains a challenge and this in part is due to a lack of accurate osteosarcoma preclinical models. Traditionally, two dimensional (2D) cell culture and animals have been used as primary cancer drug development models. Although 2D cell culture is relatively easy to perform, it fails to mimic the 3D complexity of the primary tumour microenvironment. On the other hand, animal models for drug testing are labour and time intensive, costly, and most significantly, often yield untranslatable results due to the physiological differences between humans and animals, with estimated drug failure rates as high as 90%. Despite this, animal models remain the main pre-clinical model for validating potential drug candidates for osteosarcoma patients.

Organ-on-a-chip technologies using patient-specific cells, represent a promising alternative as they allow for controllable cell culture within an organotypic microarchitectural environment, providing a simple yet more physiologically relevant platform for drug screening than traditional cell culture/animal models. Specifically, for rare paediatric diseases like osteosarcoma where full clinical trials are challenging, they provide a repeatable, cost-effective, medium-throughput alternative for drug screening. This emerging field hit a major milestone in December 2022, when the US Congress approved the FDA Modernization Act 2.0 allowing the use of organ-on-chip data for drug discovery instead of animal models.

This clearly indicates the immense potential organ-on-chip devices will have in the future for treating rare diseases like osteosarcoma, further emphasising the distinct critical need for the development of the proposed device. This project aims to develop a human systemic lung metastasis-on-a-chip model for osteosarcoma. Once developed, META-CHIP can be incorporated into the drug development pipeline from early drug discovery to preclinical screening, testing, and translation of new drugs for bone cancers, bridging the gap between animal studies and human clinical trials. As part of the PhD programme, you will receive training in organoid culture, hydrogel synthesis, 3D bioprinting, organ-on-chip design, advanced microscopy, and molecular biology analysis.

Two four-year PhD studentships are funded by European Research Council Starting
Grant (#META-CHIP). These studentships include full tuition, a PhD stipend of €25,000 per annum (tax free), and a research budget to cover research costs associated with the project.

Students will be enrolled onto UCD’s structured PhD programme, which includes some taught elements and transferrable skills training, providing an excellent foundation for a research career.

About the research team: Dr Fiona Freeman is an Ad Astra Fellow, a Conway Fellow, a funded investigator in the SFI Research Centre in Curam and Advanced Materials and Bioengineering Research, and a PI within UCD Centre for Biomedical Engineering and Trinity Centre for Bioengineering. Dr Freeman leads a multidisciplinary research group investigating the use of innovative biomedical engineering techniques to better understand and develop novel therapeutics to treat paediatric bone cancer, Osteosarcoma.

Minimum Qualifications: A Master’s Degree (or equivalent) in Biomedical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Molecular Bioengineering, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Biomedical Sciences or a closely related area. Candidates should enjoy working as part of a team and have a keen interest in biomedical device design.

How to apply: For further information and to apply, please email Dr Freeman (she/her) at fiona.freeman@ucd.ie.

Applicants should submit the following as a single pdf document:

  1. a cover letter outlining their interest in the project any relevant experience and their future goals
  2. a detailed CV (including a list of any publications if applicable)
  3. the names and contact details of two academic referees.

Interviews will take place in May 2024 via video call. The candidate should be in a position to start their PhD by September 2024.