(Mathematics) Fully-funded Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) PhD Scholarship 2021/22

Title: Modelling the spatial ecology of cancer

Project Supervisor: Dr Noemi Picco

Closing date for applications: The deadline for full consideration of applications is 1 August 2021. Applications received after 1 August 2021 and before the positions are filled will be accepted but may not receive a full consideration.

Start date: 1 October 2021 or 1 January 2022

Project description:

The typical response dynamics of cancer patients to treatment often follows a pattern of significant response, that begins to slow and then leads to relapse. These complex dynamics for patients undergoing treatment indicate that there is a heterogeneous population of tumour cells driving the tumour. In addition, the environment in which the tumour lives (e.g. the stroma) is known to modulate drug resistance, so called microenvironment-mediated resistance.

This project will focus on understanding the contributions of the tumour microenvironment and the tumour heterogeneity in regulating treatment response and the emergence of drug resistance. Specifically, it will investigate the creation of transient protective niches that facilitate drug resistance. The project will involve the design and implementation of novel mathematical models that can explicitly capture the spatio-temporal dynamics of tumour growth, invasion and resistance. The modelling framework will adopt a suite of approaches, including partial differential equations and individual cell-based models to describe the heterogeneous and stochastic nature of these clinically and experimentally observed dynamics. The mathematical models will be interrogated to obtain insight into therapeutic strategies which can successfully control the emergence of drug resistance.


Candidates must have a first, upper second class honours or a Master’s degree with Merit, in a relevant discipline. Informal enquiries are welcome by emailing noemi.picco@swansea.ac.uk

For candidates whose first language is not English, we require IELTS 6.5 (with 6.0 in each component) or equivalent. Please visit our website for a list of acceptable English language tests. We prefer candidates to have already met the English Language requirements at the point of application, although this is not a requirement.


This is a four-year fully-funded EPSRC scholarship, which covers UK tuition fees and an annual stipend of £15,245. Research Training Support Grant of £1,000 per annum is also provided.


International students are eligible to apply for this studentship.

How to apply:

Candidates must complete and submit the following documentation by the stated deadline.

To apply for this studentship, please download the Postgraduate Research Scholarship Application Form and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Form and return them to the College of Science with the following:

  • Academic References – all scholarship applications require two supporting references to be submitted. Please ensure that your chosen referees are aware of the funding deadline, as their references form a vital part of the evaluation process. Please either include these with your scholarship application or ask your referees to send them directly to science-scholarships@swansea.ac.uk
  • Academic Transcripts and Degree Certificates – academic transcripts and degree certificates must be submitted along with the scholarship application by the funding deadline. We will be using these to verify your academic qualifications.
  • A recent CV
  • Candidates should use the ‘Supplementary Personal Statement’ section of the application form to explain why the award they are applying for particularly matches their skills and experience and how they would choose to develop the project.

Please email the documents to science-scholarships@swansea.ac.uk and put EPSRC DTP 21 SPATIAL ECOLOGY OF CANCER SCHOLARSHIP 2021-2022 in the email subject header.