Environmental PhDs to receive extra funding

THE UNIVERSITY OF YORK has been allocated a sum of £100m in funding from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) in order to help prepare a new generation of environmental scientists. The process will boost the funding of 14 new PhD students per year, principally in the fields of ecology, evolution and conservation. This comes as part of a Doctoral Training Programme (DTP) under the Adapting to the Challenges of Changing Environment (ACCE) section.

The ACCE Programme incorporates academics from the University of Liverpool and University of Sheffield as well as resources from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and the Natural History Museum. ACCE is the only DTP that focuses on the “biological component of environmental research”. The programme’s aim is to train PhD students who will be performing “cutting edge research and tackling environmental science questions of global significance”.

This programme is not targeting solely biology PhD applicants and students. ACCE’s website focuses on a union between analytical chemists, archaeologists, biologists, engineers, geoscientists, mathematicians and policy experts. Due to this, the programme will be beneficial to students who are applying to the Departments of Archaeology, Biology, Chemistry and Environment and Geography.

There will be 17 DTPs in response to the 2018 campaign that will host PhD studentships funded by the NERC grants. Studentships are PhD scholarships. There was a competitive process involved in the selection of the host DTPs at various institutions. They were chosen after a peer-reviewed application process that was as transparent as possible. The resulting levels of excellence were assessed, and the hosting DTPs were selected. The University of York and University of Leeds have recruited upwards of 100 postgraduate students over four year groups since 2014. These students worked with five departments at Leeds and the Department of Chemistry at York.

The studentships that are supported by the NERC are fully funded – covering fees and a stipend. They are not available to international students, but are to UK and EU students who have been resident, in the UK for the three years before the studentship. Candidates that apply send in a CV, transcripts of their degrees to date, a statement of their motivation, academic references and – especially if they are from outside of the UK – their English language level so they are sure to meet the project’s language requirements. The students with the strongest applications are then invited to interview. As of 2018, there were three new students at the University of York’s Department of Chemistry as part of the NERC DTP.

The PhD students that graduate from these DTP schemes will be vital in analysing and understanding the continuing effects of climate change, and ways to mitigate it. They ensure the UK remains active in its role as a leader in research associated with climate change.