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Greenhouse Research Studentships

Two PhD positions, University of Dundee (Scotland). Application deadline: 17. June 2024.

University of Dundee
Image: University of Dundee

The School of Science and Engineering are delighted to offer a 4 year fully funded (UK/or equivalent UK fee status) PhD studentship based within the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID).

An essential part of the remit of the Greenhouse Research Studentship Programme is that successful applicants are required to teach in the dissecting room throughout semesters 1 and 2 and to assist with other classes as and when required. Moreover, the selected candidate must publish at least one paper in a relevant journal before the scholarship is completed.

The successful candidate will commence their studentship in September 2024 (potential alterations on start date could be discussed with interview panel). The 2024/2025 tax free stipend for the scholarship is £19,237 per annum.

Eligibility

Candidates must be UK students (or equivalent UK fee status) and MUST have an undergraduate and/or Master’s degree which includes experience of full body gross anatomical human dissection. Applicants who do not have such experience will not be considered for the scholarship.

PhD Greenhouse projects

Two research topics are offered to potential candidates who wish to apply for the Greenhouse scholarship award. Only one of these projects will be taken forward and so applicants are requested to indicate clearly which of the projects they wish to apply for.

Project 1: Analysis of the bone microarchitecture of the developing upper limb

Supervisors: Dr Craig Cunningham (CAHID) and Rebecca Reid (CAHID)

Project background

Patterns in the development of the juvenile skeleton are emerging with expanding research. Early skeletal form appears to be dictated by the progression of ossification whilst biomechanical loading associated with the attainment of motor milestones, such as the bipedal gait, influences the postnatal skeleton. Other factors such as vascularisation and growth patterns also appear to influence skeletal development. Most of the previous juvenile research focuses upon weight-bearing bones associated with bipedal location. This project will explore the upper limb, which has limited previous research and experiences very different loading regimes. Investigating this area of the skeleton may provide further insight into development of the juvenile skeleton and facilitate a greater understanding of biomechanical influences. Understanding the factors that influence the developing skeleton may be useful for the treatment and analysis of paediatric trauma and pathology.

Project aims

The project aim is to investigate changes in the bone microarchitecture of the juvenile upper limb. This will be investigated through various imaging modalities, such as microcomputed tomography (μCT). The study will focus on analysis of the Scheuer Juvenile Collection.

Project objectives

To identify general ontogenetic bone microstructure patterns within the upper limb.
To examine the internal structural heterogeneity within the upper limb.
To compare the bone microarchitecture across the upper limb throughout development.

Project 2: Advancing Facial Approximation: Towards Evidence-Based Practices in Forensic Anthropology

Supervisors:: Dr Tobias Houlton, Dr Scheila Manica, Dr Julieta Gomez Garcia-Donas

Project background

The twenty-first century necessitates a fundamental shift within the forensic sciences, moving away from techniques reliant on untested assumptions and subjective judgment towards robust methodologies grounded in relevant data, quantitative measurements, and statistical models. Facial approximation has proven to be a fundamental solution to longstanding unresolved unidentified person cases. The intention of generated face predictions is to solicit public attention and facilitate recognition, promoting forensic inquiry where it might otherwise turn stagnant. The practice has however experienced challenges with limited and often fragmented or conflicting protocols, use of limited sample sizes, lack of standardisation, subjective interpretation, including inadequate error reporting and validation testing.

This prospective PhD proposal seeks to address these challenges by establishing a centralized database that synthesizes existing face approximation protocols, emphasizing reliability and error margins. Through a comprehensive investigation into methodologies, this database aims to endorse robust frameworks, enabling informed protocol selection and fostering discipline-wide standardization. Visual aids accompanying key protocols will enhance clarity and minimize misinterpretation. Furthermore, by consolidating and analysing existing protocols, this research aims to identify gaps in knowledge, guiding future research endeavours. This research aligns with the concerns of the Scientific Working Group for Forensic Anthropology (SWGFA), which advocates for practitioners to minimize subjective interpretation, adhere to validated methods, and transparently communicate limitations.

Project aim

To establish a comprehensive database that effectively communicates face prediction guidelines and their known reliability, identifying optimal protocols for forensic application and highlighting where future research efforts in the field need to be directed.

Project objectives

Perform a systematic review to identify the broad range in existing prediction protocols and anatomical guidelines available to support facial approximation.
Run a scoping review to determine the best performing protocols available in relation to study design, generated statistical analyses, and validation testing.
Identify existing limitations in the research and communicate guidelines for future research needs.
Build an online database that effectively documents available protocols and their known performance.
Highlight and illustrate optimal protocols via the online database to promote standardisation.
For future research, this is an excellent opportunity to build a raw data share initiative as e.g. http://www.craniofacialidentification.com/CFSTDDS_Contributors.html).

Diversity statement

Our research community thrives on the diversity of students and staff which helps to make the University of Dundee a UK university of choice for postgraduate research. We welcome applications from all talented individuals and are committed to widening access to those who have the ability and potential to benefit from higher education.

How to apply

Email Dr. Julieta G García-Donas to:

to submit their full CV,
to indicate which of the two projects they wish to apply for,
to provide a one page A4 summary of their suggestions for developing their research project choice.

Shortlisted applicants will be notified for interview in the week commencing 20 June 2024.

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