Skip to main content

Modelling, prediction and control of the spread of aquaculture diseases

  • Delivery:
    Full time according to Funding Council definitions

PhD Studentship - Computational modelling, prediction and control of the spread of aquaculture diseases with AI and network simulation

Modelling is an important tool to help understand the spread and impact of disease and provides a means through which to optimise surveillance and control measures. Social network analysis and associated modelling approaches are commonly applied tools. These approaches model the connections between individuals or locations by a variety of means and allow inferences to be made as to how rapidly a pathogen may spread through the contact network and allow individuals at high risk of getting or spreading a pathogen to be identified. A key limitation of such models is they assume the network is constant, behaving in the same way over time and in the event of a disease incursion or interventions. For example if a farmer is aware of the presence of a disease in the vicinity of their supplier, they may choose to seek another supplier, which may in turn influence that suppliers ability to supply their normal customers thus causing the network to rewire through a cascade of changes to the underlying structure. Though stochastic simulations and the addition of random connections can help reduce the consequences of this limitation, there remains a fundamental lack of understanding of behaviour response which could lead to false inferences relating to disease impacts and the effectiveness of responses.

This is a fully-funded PhD studentship which includes a stipend of £15,225 each year to support your living costs.

This project is conditional upon the funding being secured.

Key information

Next start date:

25 January 2021


Bournemouth University, Talbot Campus


36 Months

Entry requirements:

Outstanding academic potential as measured normally by either a 1st class honours degree or equivalent Grade Point Average (GPA), or a Master’s degree with distinction or equivalent. If English is not your first language you'll need IELTS (Academic) score of 6.5 minimum (with a minimum 6.0 in each component, or equivalent). For more information check out our full entry requirements

Project details

Working with the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), an executive agency of the UK government's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (defra) that is responsible for the control of diseases in aquaculture in England and Wales, this PhD studentship aims to develop a dynamic network simulation model (based on an existing framework written in R) that includes behavioural responses to disease outbreaks and control measures. The project will deliver a network simulation tool that can be applied to investigate disease outbreaks and uses state-of-the-art methods and technologies from other more advanced fields to which network models are applied, such as communications and power networks. This tool will be developed in parallel to an R&D project run by Cefas and funded by defra to understand aquaculture site holder behaviours and trading patterns, which will be used to inform the network structure and its response to different key scenarios. Though focussed on aquaculture diseases, it is envisaged that the outputs from the proposed project will be applicable to a wide variety of other systems where understanding progression of an agent or process through a network is of interest.

This project will build on a social network modelling framework previously developed by Cefas through the inclusion of artificial intelligence approaches, machine learning algorithms, complex network analysis tools and latest epidemic spreading models to predict how a network may rewire and evolve in the event of a disease outbreak and subsequent control scenarios. Prior experience with machine learning and/or network simulation, and excellent coding skills in Python, R and/or MATLAB are therefore crucial.

View the full project description (pdf 215Kb).

The closing date for applications is 30 September 2020.


Prof. Marcin Budka 

Marcin Budka received his dual MSc/BSc degree in Finance and Banking from the Katowice University of Economics (Poland, 2003), BSc in Computer Science from the University of Silesia (Poland, 2005) and PhD in Computational Intelligence from Bournemouth University (UK, 2010). Between 2003 and 2007 he was working as an engineer, project manager and team leader in a smart-metering start-up company, before pursuing an academic career. In the years 2011-2012 he was appointed as a Visiting Research Fellow at the Wroclaw University of Technology, Poland. He currently acts as Head of Research in the Department of Computing and Informatics.

Dr Wei Koong Chai 

Wei Koong Chai is a senior lecturer in Bournemouth University (BU), UK. He heads the Future and Complex Networks Research Group (FlexNet) in the Department of Computing and Informatics in BU. He is also currently a visiting academic in the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, University College London (UCL), UK. Previously, he was a Senior Research Associate in UCL, where he led the research activities of several research projects, conduct collaborative research and contribute to the teaching and supervision of students at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. He has successfully raised research funding from both EU and UK funding bodies. He has published papers in fully refereed international conferences and journals and contributed chapters to books. His research work has been constantly receiving citations, recording approximately 2,000 citations to date (source: Google Scholar). He also serves on the technical program committee of several IEEE/ACM international conferences and workshops.

Dr Nick Taylor 

James Guilder 


A fully-funded Studentship includes a maintenance grant of £15,225 per year to contribute towards living expenses during the course of your research, as well as a fee waiver for 36 months.

Associated costs, such as for fieldwork and conference attendance, will also be met under the Studentship.

Academic support

The Research Development Programme, developed by the Doctoral College in line with the Researcher Development Framework (Vitae).

An added benefit is the opportunity to meet researchers from other academic schools at BU through the activities of the Doctoral College and benefit from their experiences, skills, and perspectives.

Full entry requirements

The BU PhD and MRes Studentships are open to UK, EU and International students.

Candidates for a PhD Studentship should demonstrate outstanding qualities and be motivated to complete a PhD in 4 years and must demonstrate:

  • Outstanding academic potential as measured normally by either a 1st class honours degree (or equivalent Grade Point Average (GPA) or a Master’s degree with distinction or equivalent
  • An IELTS (Academic) score of 6.5 minimum (with a minimum 6.0 in each component, or equivalent) for candidates for whom English is not their first language and this must be evidenced at point of application.

In addition to satisfying minimum entry criteria, BU will look closely at the qualities, skills and background of each candidate and what they can bring to their chosen research project in order to ensure successful completion.

Applicants will be asked to submit an online application form and a proposal (approximately 1500 words) outlining their understanding of the project for which they are applying, the approach they would envisage taking and what qualities they will bring to the research community.

Please note:

  • current BU Doctoral students are not eligible to apply for a Studentship
  • current MRes/MPhil students can apply, subject to satisfactory completion of their Research Degree prior to being able to take up the award
  • PhD Studentships cannot be used to support BU staff to complete doctoral programmes.

International entry requirements

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide evidence that you can understand English to a satisfactory level. English language requirements for this course are normally: 

IELTS (Academic) score of 6.5 (with a minimum 6.0 in each component) or equivalent.

View further information about our English language requirements.

A number of pre-sessional English and preparatory programmes are offered through our partner institution, Bournemouth University International College, and will get you ready for study at BU at the appropriate level.

You can also find further details of the international qualifications we accept, and what level of study they apply to, on our postgraduate entry requirements page.

How to apply

Click the green ‘Apply now’ button at the top of the page and complete the online application form. You can find further guidance about applying for a postgraduate research degree in our Postgraduate Research section.

The closing date for applications 30 September 2020. 


A research degree can open new career opportunities in commercial research and development, consultancy, or could lead you to starting your own business. You may alternatively consider a career in academia. You may wish to undertake research to contribute to your knowledge of a specialist subject, or develop your employability by enhancing your skills in project management and analysis.


The Doctoral College

See how we work alongside Academic Schools and the Faculty to support the postgraduate community at BU.

Science forensic toxicology research

Fees and funding

Find out about the fees and different funding options for postgraduate research degrees.