Friday, October 10, 2014

Call for applications – PhD Scholarships

Scholarship under the “Stress tolerance rice for Africa and South Asia (STRASA)” project, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF)

AfricaRice leads a project on “Stress tolerance rice for Africa and South Asia (STRASA) project”. STRASA phase 3 seeks to improve the livelihood of resource-poor farmers and contribute to solving food insecurity issues by designing sustainable and climate-smart high yielding rice varieties. The specific objectives of the STRASA phase 3 project are (i) research and develop drought-, submergence-, salt-, iron-toxicity-, and cold-tolerant varieties of rice, (ii) train rice scientists in the target countries to develop improved varieties that can withstand stressful environments and (iii) promote, produce, and deliver the new varieties to farmers in the target countries.

Two PhD fellowships are available to undertake research on salinity and iron toxicity.  Each is described below. 

Research 1 Salinity
New donors with physiological and genetic mechanisms distinct from those already identified in Pokkali-type donors are required to improve salinity tolerance beyond current ranges. Landraces including Oryza glaberrima have not been well exploited for tolerance to salinity. The successful candidate will (1) characterize a diverse set of germplasm for physiological traits underlying salinity tolerance to identify new sources of tolerance for use as donors in breeding and for identification of novel QTLs, (2) use whole-genome sequencing and iSeq QTL workflows to identify candidate genes for any novel QTLs and (3) utilize genome sequence information to design perfect markers for selected candidate genes.
The PhD candidate will be hosted at the AfricaRice Senegal Regional Center, St. Louis, Senegal. 

Research 2 Iron toxicity
Iron toxicity is a widespread nutrient disorder which affects lowland rice mostly in poorly drained fields where reduced iron becomes available at levels exceeding plant’s requirements. Different strategies are employed by plants to avoid iron toxicity. However the lack of a clear understanding of genetic and molecular factors governing iron-toxicity tolerance mechanisms seriously limits breeding efficiency. The PhD candidate will investigate physiological and molecular mechanisms underlying iron toxicity tolerance in rice and identify traits associated with tolerance that could be useful in breeding. Results from this PhD research are expected to elucidate tolerance mechanisms and guide more precise varietal selection which could significantly advance the development of rice varieties tolerant to iron-toxicity.
The PhD candidate will be hosted at AfricaRice station in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania but may be required to conduct experimental trials in other countries involved in iron toxicity tolerance screening. 

  • 3-year PhD scholarship is comprehensive and will cover stipend, research costs, tuition, travel, and insurance. 
  • MSc degree in one or more of the following fields: crop science, plant breeding, plant physiology, genetics or molecular biology, obtained less than 5 years ago
  • Satisfy graduate admission requirements for a PhD in a reputable university (Strong preference is given to candidates already enrolled in a University for PhD). 
  • Has a supervisory Professor at the target University, who agreed to the proposed research. 
  • Excellent analytical skills preferably demonstrated through previous experience will be an added advantage. 
  • Good writing skills and the motivation to carry out a PhD within 3 years as required. 
  • Fluency in English and preferably also in French 

Nationals from the STRASA project countries, namely: Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Conakry, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda. 

Application procedure
Application details are at

Candidates should submit the requirements listed below to
1) Application letter 
2) Statement of purpose for studying PhD
3) Curriculum vitae
4) Brief proposal of the research (500 words)
5) University transcripts (detailing BSc and MSc degrees) 
6) Proof of enrolment in a PhD program at a reputable University. 

Closing date: 7 November 2014

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