PhD Positions at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) – Kenya



Two PhD positions to work on Disease Modelling

Two (2) PhD positions to work on developing an integrated model for the spread of Plasmodium transmission blocking symbionts and effects on malaria incidence at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), Kenya

The two PhD studies are part of the project “to explore key characteristics of the mosquito symbiont Microsporidia MB, to determine whether it has the potential to be developed as a malaria control intervention” granted to the International Centre of Insect Physiology Ecology (icipe) and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).

Project description

Malaria is a human disease caused by a protozoan parasite vectored by mosquitoes of the genus Anopheles. The malaria disease burden remains a major impediment to good health and economic development in many regions of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). In 2018, a total of 228 million cases were reported that resulted in 405,000 deaths, a strong indication that current control measures and their deployment levels are insufficient. Large-scale insecticide-treated net (ITN) distribution campaigns have had a significant impact on reducing the number of malaria cases. However, many malaria vectors have now evolved resistance to the insecticides used in ITNs and they are increasingly biting in outdoor conditions, where nets offer no protection. These factors threaten to reverse the gains achieved for malaria reduction and indicate an urgent need for new strategies to control Anopheles mosquito populations or their capacity to transmit Plasmodium parasites.

One of the most promising new vector management strategies involves the use of vertically transmitted symbionts (from mother to offspring) that decrease the vectorial capacity of their hosts. These symbionts can be disseminated through insect populations. By virtue of their vertical transmission, they offer a more sustainable strategy for the control of vector-borne disease transmission than conventional methods. This strategy is currently used as a control mechanism against Dengue, through the bacterial symbiont Wolbachia. A similar control strategy could be transformative and sustainable for malaria control, but this will require research for development (R4D) efforts on Anopheles-associated microbes with transmission-blocking capacity.


We will use generic and flexible methods to illustrate the interactions and feedbacks with the integration of the hypothesis of the cause and effect of the Plasmodium transmission blocking symbionts on malaria incidence. Two modeling approaches will be used: (i) the Integrated system dynamics simulation model; and (ii) Individual-based modeling (IBM). These modeling strategies will formulate malaria transmission models that combine Anopheles vectors, Plasmodium parasites, humans, and the environment and with transmission-blocking symbionts and other factors such as insecticide resistance. Prior to the modeling experiments, we will establish the hierarchy process to elicit a ranking of the determinant of individual components of the vectors-parasites-human-environment system. This step will consist of identifying and visualizing the interactions among the determinants of each component of the system using the cause and effect principle and prioritize them by means of an analytics hierarchy process (AHP) and network analysis (NA). The cause-and-effect sketches will further, provide means to improve strategies for more and effective scrutiny of the determinants of the system components by scouting underestimated channels. The development of models specific to Microsporidia MB will involve iterative processes and integration with laboratory and field experiments. Modelling experiments will evaluate the applied potential of transmission-blocking symbionts in Anopheles and guide the development of optimal dissemination strategies. In addition, models specific to Microsporidia MB will predict how release programs could impact the overall malaria transmission landscape and how malaria case burden would be affected under different environmental conditions. The first PhD research will apply System dynamics (SD) and the second will use Individual (agent) based modeling (IBM).

Eligibility criteria

  • Applicants should have MSc in Mathematics, Physics, Computer Science, Data Science, Statistics, or related discipline
  • Good skills in programming languages such as C/C++, Fortram, Matlap, R, Java and Django platform. Some knowledge in biological processes will be an advantage
  • Candidates have MSc in Entomology and Biology with a strong foundation in quantitative analysis, experience in developing and using dynamics and individual based models are also encouraged to appl
  • Should have a proven track record of R&D relating to growth and spatial analysis models
  • Demonstrated ability to publish in high quality peer-reviewed scientific journals
  • Good communication skills and proficiency in English (both oral and written) are a prerequisite

Qualified female candidates and candidates from less privileged regions or groups are especially encouraged to apply.

The Master’s degree must have been completed less than ten years ago at the time of application.


The two PhD positions are based at icipe’s Duduville campus, Nairobi, Kenya.


The Ph.D. projects are funded through a research grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and will be jointly supervised by icipe scientists.

The scholarships will cover all costs of the Ph.D. program, including travel, living expenses, medical insurance, university fees, and all research and training costs.


The closing date for applications is 12 August 2021
Successful candidates will be notified by 1 September 2021
The Ph.D.
positions will be a 3-year doctoral training by research: start: October
2021, end: September 2024.


Download and complete the Scholarship Application Form

  • To download the Application Form as a doc file click here
  • To download the Application Form as a docx file click here

Go to the online application platform by clicking here to apply and upload the following documents:

  • Completed application form
  • Curriculum Vitae (please use the Europass Format:
  • Certified copies of official university certificates and transcripts, and any other professional or academic certificates. Please combine into 1 file. If necessary, you may zip the file to make it smaller for uploading. For pdf files, can reduce the size using the online tool at
  • Copy of a signed recommendation letter from your employer (if currently employed) or University where MSc was undertaken. The letter must be on institute letterhead.
  • Close-up photograph in colour of your full head and upper shoulders (passport-style photograph)
  • Copy of National ID
  • Copy of Passport biodata page (the page that has your picture and personal details)

Once you have entered and uploaded everything, click the Continue button. This will take you to the Review your Entries page where you can review and change anything in your application. When you are satisfied with your application, click the Continue button to submit your application. This cannot be undone, so please make sure all your application information is correct before submitting it. We will send an email acknowledgment when we receive your completed online application.


  • DO NOT submit your application by email. Only applications and accompanying documents submitted online will be accepted.
  • It is highly recommended that you submit your application well before the deadline, especially if you commonly experience slow Internet speeds or frequent Internet outages.
  • It is also highly recommended that you reduce the sizes of your files as much as possible to make them easier to upload.
  • Accepted formats for documents: doc, docx, ppt, pptx, pdf, rtf, zip, rar, jpg, jpeg, png, bmp, tif
  • Maximum size for any one file is 5 MB.


Q: May I submit my application by email?

A: No. Only applications submitted through the online platform here will be accepted.

Q: May I submit my application in French?

A: No. Your application must be in English.

Q: I cannot upload one of my files. What is wrong?

A: (1) Perhaps your file is too large. The maximum size for any single file is 5 MB. Please reduce the file size if it is too large. (2) Perhaps your Internet is too slow or intermittent. It is highly recommended that you reduce the sizes of your files as much as possible to facilitate uploading. Also, try uploading your documents when internet traffic is low e.g. at night. (3) Perhaps you are trying to upload a file that is not one of the accepted file formats (Accepted formats: doc, docx, ppt, pptx, pdf, rtf, zip, rar, jpg, jpeg, png, bmp, tif)

Q: I have completed all the requirements for my Master’s degree but I have not yet graduated. May I apply?

A: Yes you may apply. Instead of the Masters degree certificate please provide a letter from the university stating that you have completed all the requirements for the Master’s degree.

Q: I submitted my application online, but I did not receive an email application. What is wrong?

A: There are two possibilities: (1) you entered an incorrect email address, or (2) You did not actually submit your application. Please read the Application Procedure very carefully and redo your application.

Can I get a student loan for a doctorate UK?

You can apply for a loan if your doctoral program includes an integrated master’s degree (even if you already have a master’s degree). You must register for a full doctoral degree. You will not be able to apply for a separate Postgraduate Master’s Loan.