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Research in Biosciences


Research themes

Research in Biosciences is highly collaborative across campuses and themes. The themes below represent some of the key areas we specialise in.

Research highlights

  • Ranked 11th in the world and 1st in the UK in the most recent Life and Earth Sciences Leiden Ranking (2015-2018), based on the proportion of outputs that are top 10% in the field
  • 24 independent Senior Research Fellows within the faculty
  • 13 staff members currently hold European Research Council (ERC) grants


Interdisciplinary research collaborations

Alongside our discipline-specific work, Biosciences academics contribute to research across the University's campuses in Devon and Cornwall, playing key roles in groups including:

Exeter Marine

The University of Exeter is at the forefront of human knowledge about the marine environment: its ecology, biodiversity, conservation, and its impact on our health and wellbeing. Our marine research spans the humanities, physical, social and natural sciences and works with industry partners to deliver real-world change.

» Exeter Marine website

Conscience: The Conservation Science Hub

Conscience is a collective of inter-disciplinary researchers based at or working with the University of Exeter, working to reduce biodiversity loss through socially just and evidence-based conservation.

» Conscience website

Living Systems Institute (LSI)

The Living Systems Institute pioneers research into complex biological systems on all scales, from the molecular to the whole organism and populations. LSI merges research in biology and medicine with ground breaking physical sciences technologies and powerful mathematical modelling capabilities. This integrated approach enables us to develop fundamental knowledge and generate new tools for improving health and treating disease.

» Find out more about the LSI

Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI)

The ESI brings diverse perspectives together to shed light on some of the major challenges facing our planet. In looking for solutions to problems of environmental change, our researchers tackle an extensive range of topics: some solutions are technological, others might relate to land use, and sometimes they depend on a change in human behaviour. Most involve combinations of all three. We combine multiple, in-depth local and regional studies to provide insights into how environmental growth can be achieved more broadly, and work in partnership with an array of stakeholders to deliver practical solutions for them.

» Visit the ESI website

Earth System Science Group

The Earth System Science Group focuses on understanding the Earth as a whole system, comprising life and its environment, including the atmosphere, ocean, sea-ice, land surface, ice sheets, and crustal rocks.

» More about Earth System Science

International impact

Collaborative Centre for Resilience in Environment, Water and Waste (CREWW)

CREWW is a collaboration between the University, industry, government and NGOs to undertake research into some of the most pressing environmental challenges in our time - namely how we can manage our precious natural resources in ways which are sustainable and resilient in the face of climate change and population growth. It is funded by Research England and South West Water.

» Find out more about CREWW

Collaborative Centre for Sustainable Aquaculture Futures (SAF)

Sustainable Aquaculture Futures (SAF) is a collaboration between the University and CEFAS, with an ambition of bringing together world-leading scientists to ensure the key challenges facing sustainable growth of the aquaculture industry are better understood. SAF global partners include academic centres in India, Bangladesh, Malawi and Thailand.

» Visit the SAF website

The University of Exeter AFGrica Unit

The Universities of Exeter and Cape Town (UCT) have joined forces to create the world’s first international research centre for tackling fungal infections: the AFGrica Unit, which is based at UCT’s Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine in Cape Town.

» Read more on the MRC Centre for Medical Mycology website

Research facilities

Aquatic Resources Centre (ARC) 

A world-class teaching and research facility that includes 16 aquaria rooms, a 3000-tank zebrafish unit, a Wolfson Imaging Unit with specialist microscopes, video and imaging equipment, together with several preparation and laboratory rooms that contain automated respirometry, dosing and gas control systems that allow for sophisticated developmental, physiological and behavioural research. 

Bioimaging Centre

This centre has a large array of light microscopes to support all key bioimaging techniques, including FRAP, FLIM, FCS, photoactivation.

BSL2 laboratory 

Our Ar 72 m2 BSL2 laboratory is approved by the Home Office and the US NIH for select agent work. 

CryoEM facility

Part of the Living Systems Institute, this facility for protein structure includes sample preparation and a 120 keV cryo-capable EM (FEI Tecnai 12) with automated data collection. This is supported by extensive protein purification and crystallisation systems.


The recently-established Exeter Centre for Cytomics houses a range of instruments for flow cytometry-based cell sorting and imaging.

DNA Sequencing Facility 

The Exeter Sequencing Service houses Illumina HiSeq 2500, Illumina MiSeq and PacBio Sequel (for long reads). supports a wide range of applications for genomics, transcriptomics and epigenetics. 

Mass Spectrometry (MS) 

The MS facility houses two LC-MS systems along with a GC-QToF MS/MS and HPLC with diode array, fluorescence and refractive index detectors. The facility supports custom targeted small molecule analysis and untargeted metabolite profiling plus data analysis pipelines. 

Plant propagation 

Four controlled environment plant growth rooms and a purpose-built 375m2 greenhouse facility enable propagation and growth of high quality plant material for research and teaching.

Radar tracking

Vertical-Looking Radar (VLR) is used to investigate the abundance and behaviour of insects flying at high altitudes. Harmonic radar enables individual tagged low-flying insects to be tracked continuously. We are one of only two institutions in the UK and three in the world that currently possess such technology, facilitating research into animal navigation and animal cognition in a field setting.

Stable Isotope Facility

This facility is equipped with two isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) instruments: a Sercon Integra 2 system and a Sercon 20-22 isotope IRMS. 


Research seminars

Streatham Campus: Lunchtime seminar series

In our weekly seminar series we host guest speakers from other institutions, who share their research on topics across the spectrum of biosciences.

Seminars take place on Thursdays at 12:30 in the LSI Building on Streatham Campus, and are followed by a shared buffet lunch.

» Upcoming Exeter seminars

Fellowships and PhDs

Biosciences currently has more than 20 senior research fellows and 30 junior research fellows, funded by NERC, BBSRC, the Wellcome Trust, the Leverhulme Trust, Marie Sklodowska Curie, and others. Our diverse funding portfolio supports our vibrant community of graduate students, postdoctoral researchers and independent research fellows. 

Join our research community

Research fellows

Fellowship applicants interested in joining us should contact the member of academic staff closest to their research area or our Directors of Research and Impact in the first instance to discuss their proposed project: Professor Eduarda Santos or Professor Ivana Gudelj.

We have a strong track record of hosting fellowships funded by both UK and international schemes (e.g. UKRI Future Leaders Fellows, NERC Independent Research Fellows, BBSRC David Phillips and Discovery Fellows, Royal Society University Research Fellows, Marie Curie Fellows, European Research Council and Wellcome schemes)

We also welcome enquiries from existing fellowship holders interested in transferring to the University of Exeter. It is always useful to include a full academic CV.

Fellowship support is offered at all stages:


  • Advice on scheme suitability and proposal writing from our many successful fellows and research development staff.
  • Review of draft proposals.
  • Costing and submission of applications via funder portals.
  • Assistance with interview preparation.

For existing fellows:

  • 1:1 mentoring from senior colleagues.
  • Peer support from our Early Career Researcher network.
  • Opportunities (but no obligation) to gain teaching experience and to supervise BSc, MSc, MRes, and PhD project students.
  • Training and personal development.
  • Support for grant proposal development from senior colleagues and research support staff.

Find out more about support and funding available for research fellows:

Download a file containing summary information of a range of possible fellowship schemes and further information on our internal processes for applicants: 

» Fellowship opportunities and more information

Please contact our Research Development teams in the first instance if you have any questions:

PhD researchers

Our PhD students benefit from:

  • High-quality research supervision to develop and nurture your scientific potential
  • A tailored supervision approach to suit your requirements
  • Accessible supervisors who are enthusiastic about working directly with postgraduate research students
  • Regular timetabled meetings with your supervisor, plus meetings with your research group
  • Instant access to world-leading researchers who will share their expertise and ideas with you through our 'open door' policy for all postgraduate students

» Find out more about our PhD programme

Early Career Researcher Network

The Early Career Researcher Network helps support postdocs and PhD students in their career development. Dr Helen Eyles coordinates the network alongside a steering committee of peers from across the department. 

» Find out more

Funding opportunities

Fungal Biology: Ken Haynes bursaries

Bursaries of up to £500 are available to assist PhD students and early career stage researchers in the field of fungal biology.