Apply for a funded PhD position

We offer a range of PhDs funded by different sources, such as research councils, industries or charities. As a PhD student, you will become a valued member of a research group. Here you will work with internationally respected academics, post-doctoral research associates and technicians. Find out more about our research groups below.

How to Apply

To apply for a funded PhD please read the advertised project information carefully as requirements will vary between funders. The project information will include details of funding eligibility, application deadline dates and links to application forms. Only applicants who have a relevant background and meet the funding criteria can be considered.

Current PhD Opportunities

  • Diversity and evolution of facultative and constitutive C4 photosynthesis in sedges

    Supervisors

    Description

    Plants have evolved different versions of photosynthesis to maintain efficiency under diverse environmental conditions. While the vast majority of plants use C3 photosynthesis, some plants developed a turbo-charged form of photosynthesis called C4, which is used by our most productive food and bioenergy crops. The C4 system evolved from the ancestral C3 type via a series of modifications to leaf biochemistry and anatomy, which inevitably created intermediate states along these evolutionary trajectories. These C3-C4 intermediates use rare physiology called C2 photosynthesis. Thus, C2 plants tend to occur in lineages that evolved C4 photosynthesis and are vital to understanding the evolutionary paths to C4 emergence.

    One genus of sedges (Eleocharis) seems to include particularly diverse photosynthetic types. In addition to some C3 Eleocharis species, preliminary work suggests that C2 and C4 photosynthesis may have evolved multiple times independently in this genus. Some wetland Eleocharis species have facultative C4 photosynthesis. This means that they can turn this particular mode of photosynthesis on and off under different environmental triggers. Facultative C4 photosynthesis is extremely rare but may be necessary for these plants to tolerate the variable conditions expected under climate change.

    This PhD studentship will investigate the evolution of both facultative and constitutive C2 and C4 photosynthesis in Eleocharis sedges by characterising the photosynthetic diversity and evolutionary relationships in Eleocharis specimens and the capacity to induce C2 and C4 physiology across the phylogeny. The student will do this through a combination of glasshouse experiments with physiology, leaf anatomy, and stable carbon isotope measurements at Lancaster University, fieldwork in the United States in collaboration with Washington State University, and phylogenomic analyses undertaken during a 6-week placement at the laboratories of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

    Application

    Full studentships are available to UK and EU candidates. First-class or 2.1 (Hons) degree or Masters degree (or equivalent) in biology, ecology or plant sciences is required. Contact Dr Marjorie Lundgren at m.lundgren@lancaster.ac.uk.

  • Nitrogen controls on ecosystem functioning in neotropical dry forests

    Supervisors

     

     

    Description

    Global agriculture is rapidly expanding in response to the growing demand for food, with ‘agricultural frontiers’, such as dry and fertile lands of the Gran Chaco in South America contributing to this need. The croplands produce large quantities of food cheaply as infrastructure develops and investments grow. However, conflicts between economic development and environmental degradation are acute. Poor management and planning could risk both sustainable food security and ecosystem resilience. Much of the worlds’ livestock are fed with soybean protein produced in the Gran Chaco region.

    Large-scale deforestation to make space for agriculture has resulted in massive biodiversity loss due to fire and flooding. In a globally intricate food system, the deterioration of natural resources in crucial food-producing areas poses a serious threat to global food security.

    By combining knowledge from agricultural systems, soil nutrient cycling and ecology, and conservation biology this project will assess risks of potential ecosystem feedbacks created by the expansion of soybean and livestock production by measuring key indicators of ecosystem functioning. This will be achieved by measuring N availability, and C and N stocks and fluxes in transects from permanent forest monitoring sites to adjacent soybean and grazing lands.

    The field work will be conducted in Argentina in the Gran Chaco region, as part of a collaboration with Professors Esteban Jobbagy and Lucas Borras from the National Research Council (CONICET). This project will use complementary expertise from Lancaster University (Professors Rufino and Ostle), CEH (Dr Jeanette Whitaker) to quantify changing C and nutrient cycles for the shrinking of globally important and fragile dry forest.

    Applications

    The successful candidate will have the opportunity to study vegetation changes (forest, grasslands and croplands), and soil dynamics in the field, and to conduct manipulation studies with advanced techniques to understand the underlying microbial ecology driving long-term ecosystem changes.

    Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in subjects such as Environmental Science, Plant and Soil Science or Ecology.

    For further details, please contact Professor Mariana Rufino or Jeanette Whitaker.

  • Angry damsels: do species interactions after overfishing enhance or inhibit coral reef recovery?

    Supervisors

    Description

    Coral reef species are undergoing widespread mortality under increasingly frequent mass coral bleaching events, which will continue until global efforts reduce CO2 emissions. In the meantime, it is critical to enhance reef resilience and recovery processes. Overharvesting of herbivorous fishes threatens these processes and can encourage shifts towards algal-dominated reefs.  

    Overfishing also alters the abundance of other fishes within the community, disrupting complex species interactions. Whether these more subtle impacts enhance or inhibit the function of herbivores is unclear. Resolving how species interactions can mediate responses to disturbance in hyper-diverse communities is necessary to provide realistic predictions on the effects of global change.  

    Damselfishes live amongst the branches of coral colonies and aggressively defend their hosts against intruders. In areas of high fishing intensity, damselfish are largely ignored whereas their predators are targeted. This situation can lead to a surge in damselfish abundance, increasing the proportion of reef that is aggressively defended. The extent to which this “Wild West” scenario prevents herbivores from grazing, and consequently its impact on resilience and recovery of reefs, is unknown yet potentially significant.  

    This project aims to reveal the impact of heightened aggression between fish species on coral reef resilience and recovery. You will work with project Partner Operation Wallacea at their Honduras field sites to take advantage of pioneering stereo-video methods to generate 3D-heatmaps of fish behaviour across a gradient of fishing pressure and to conduct field experiments on damselfish aggression. With these data, you will develop an ecosystem-based model to assess the impact of cross-species interference on future reef resilience and recovery. Model outputs will inform management strategies to maintain optimum relative fish abundances for recovery.  

    With supervisory and project support at Lancaster University, Bangor University and Operation Wallacea, the project offers unique opportunities for research and training in coral reef science.

    Applications

    Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in subjects such as Ecology, Marine Biology or Natural Sciences. Applicants with Masters degrees, relevant research experience, or publications will be highly competitive. Exposure to statistical analyses and ecological modelling desirable. Applicants should hold a minimum SCUBA diving qualification of PADI Rescue Diver, with PADI Divemaster or equivalent preferred.  

    For further details, please contact Dr Sally A. Keith. 

  • A New Framework for Measuring Uncertainty in Satellite Observations of Climate Change

    Supervisors

    Description

    This project offers the exciting opportunity to develop fundamental new insight into the certainty of satellite estimates of climate change, with a focus on Earth's polar ice sheets.

    The melting of ice from Greenland and Antarctica contributes more than one-third of global sea-level rise. Satellites provide a unique tool for systematically monitoring the response of these vast ice sheets to climate change, yet comprehensive estimates of the uncertainty associated with these measurements are challenging. This complicates their interpretation by end-users such as climate modellers and policymakers.

    The project aims to address this challenge by developing a fundamentally new approach to estimating the uncertainty of satellite altimetry measurements of ice sheet change. This will be achieved by bringing together the disciplines of Earth Observation and metrology (the science of measurement). Specifically, you will (1) work to develop a framework to characterise end-to-end uncertainty in satellite altimetry estimates of ice sheet change, (2) use this new framework to estimate the certainty with which we can derive long-term trends in the contribution of ice sheets to sea level, and (3) explore how this approach can be applied to other sources of satellite data, such as optical and radar imagery.

    This PhD project benefits from being a CASE studentship, meaning that the successful student will have the opportunity to work with experts in both metrology and satellite Earth Observation, and to undertake a secondment at the UK's National Physical Laboratory. You will also become a member of the UK Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (a national Centre of expertise in polar remote sensing) and the new Lancaster University-CEH Centre of Excellence in Environmental Data Science. There will be extensive opportunities to collaborate with glaciologists, climate scientists, data scientists and statisticians, and to work closely with the European Space Agency.

    Applications

    This project is particularly well-suited to applicants with a background in physics, mathematics, computer science, data science, or engineering, who would like to use numeric techniques to study environmental science and climate change. Applications should hold the minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent.

    Informal enquiries are welcome, and please contact Mal McMillan, m.mcmillan@lancaster.ac.uk.

  • Filling the emissions gap: Investigating the dynamic contribution of soil volatile organic compounds to temperate and tropical forest atmospheres

    Supervisors

    Description

    Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) disrupt the chemical equilibrium of the atmosphere causing increased formation of air pollutants and greenhouse gases. The majority of these VOCs are known to originate from the world’s forests, but we cannot currently account for them all. Without knowledge of the precise sources, we cannot predict how they will respond to changes in climate and land cover.

    In this highly multidisciplinary project, you will work with leading researchers from Lancaster, CEH, Kew Gardens and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) to explore, identify, categorise and quantify the emission rates of VOCs from a currently overlooked source: the forest rhizosphere (soils surrounding the roots, fungi and bacteria).

    You will conduct fieldwork in a temperate forest, local to Lancaster, and at the STRI’s flagship field-site in a tropical forest in Panama. You will have the opportunity to undertake an internship at Kew Gardens where you will be introduced to DNA-based cutting-edge techniques (Next Generation Sequencing) and to molecular ecology of fungi. You will conduct experiments in the field and the laboratory to understand how each component of the rhizosphere contributes to VOC emissions and how these emissions change as environmental conditions change.

    Finally, you will distil all of the knowledge of rhizosphere VOC emissions you have gained through your experimental work into the development of a “soils in silico” computer model to describe emission rates under a range of current and potential future global conditions.

    This project will equip with highly transferrable skills applicable to a wide range of complex environmental research questions.

    Application

    Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in Biology, Chemistry, Natural or Environmental Science, or a related discipline. Enthusiasm, independence, self-motivation, curiosity and the ability to communicate to a range of audiences would all be distinctly advantageous.

    For further details, please contact Kirsti Ashworth: k.s.ashworth1@lancaster.ac.uk.

  • Improving UK air quality forecasts during heatwaves

    Supervisors

    Description

    Poor air quality is a major global health concern affecting all industrialised nations and virtually all of society. Worldwide, ~3 million deaths are attributable to air pollution annually (World Health Organization), with ~40,000 premature deaths in the UK alone (Royal College of Physicians). Air pollution-related disease places a significant financial burden on the NHS and social care (to soon reach £billions); thus, effective strategies to limit public exposure are vital. A focus of this project is on UK heatwaves – which are expected to become more frequent due to climate change and which provide meteorological conditions conducive to poor air quality.  

    Air quality forecasts to alert the public to upcoming pollution episodes (like weather forecasts) form a growing part of a government strategy to limit population exposure. Forecasts are available from process-based models operated by different institutions (e.g. Met Office). These models represent the physical/chemical/meteorological processes governing air pollutant behaviour but are subject to substantial bias. For instance, different forecast models can predict pollutant levels that vary by up to a factor of 3, thus undermining public confidence in forecast quality.  

    This project aims to improve the UK’s operational capacity to produce skilful air quality forecasts during heatwaves. The successful applicant will develop a novel statistical forecasting tool in collaboration with partners at the UK Met Office. This will involve the use of advanced statistical and machine learning approaches applied to air quality and meteorological measurements collected routinely at hundreds of UK monitoring sites. In addition to producing an air quality forecasting tool with operational capability, the project will provide novel insight into the drivers of extreme air quality episodes and areas where process models can be improved. 

    Application

    Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in Mathematics, Statistics, Chemistry, Physics, Natural or Environmental Science, or a related discipline involving Data Science. Applicants who additionally have a Masters degree, or relevant work experience, will be particularly competitive. 

    For further details, please contact Dr Ryan Hossaini (r.hossaini@lancaster.ac.uk). 

  • Rewilding trajectories: how important are the early years?

    Supervisors

    Description

    Would you like to earn a PhD doing research at the cutting edge of biodiversity, ecosystem services, environmental genomics and land-use change? We are looking for an enthusiastic, numerate student with a passion for ecology.  

    The UK has committed to ambitious targets for landscape management in the coming decades, and evidence is needed to support ecological recovery by improving the sustainability of farming practices at large scales. However, a long history of intensive farming may have resulted in conditions that resist the rate of ecological succession. Soils and their biodiversity are likely to be critical to recovery, but we know very little about how to improve the success of restoration schemes.  

    This project will be at the forefront of research tracking the success of a major environmental stewardship scheme starting in the Lake District. We will use state-of-the-art modelling and field experiments to evaluate how soil conditions and dispersal limitation limit ecological recovery. To track soil health and understand how above- and below-ground networks interact, we will generate detailed information on soil microbes, fungi and invertebrates using DNA metabarcoding. The research will also take advantage of major existing datasets collected by national monitoring programs in England and Wales to evaluate the predictability of vegetation assembly.  

    The successful candidate will become a highly skilled interdisciplinary scientist at the applied interface of conservation policy and research, with a strong background in both field and genetic techniques. The project team include experts from Lancaster, Bangor and CEH to provide the student with the best support at internationally recognized labs. The parallel study of recovery of soils and vegetation, and how we expect restoration of former farming lands to contribute to the UK national environmental policy, will be at the forefront of our scientific understanding and eligible for many high impact journals.

    Application

    Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in subjects such as Environmental or Natural Sciences and applicants with first-class degrees and/or high-quality Masters qualifications are particularly encouraged to apply. Training in statistics, DNA sequencing, and field ecology will be provided but familiarity with the R programming environment would be an advantage. 

    For enquiries, please consult Dr Alex Bush in the first instance and I will answer any questions related to the project and/or life at Lancaster. 

  • Savanna Soil Carbon: investigating biological climate resilience

    Supervisors

     

     

    Description

    Savanna ecosystems occupy 20% of the Earth’s land surface and are characterised by open canopied mixed woodland with a grassy understorey and seasonal rainfall in tropical or sub-tropical regions.  They are also reservoirs of globally significant biodiversity and carbon that are strongly influenced by the combined effects of grazing, fire and climate. Savannas are critical for human livelihoods and wellbeing, with over 1 billion people reliant on resources or services that these landscapes provide. These include the provision of food, fuel and fibre from natural and managed savanna ecosystems. The co-evolution of savannas and humans has occurred over 200,000 years. 

    Soils underpin the delivery and sustainability of the form and function of these environments with soil biotic communities actively regulating biome scale vegetation dynamics, greenhouse gas emissions, and carbon sequestration. These ancient and valuable systems are, however, under pressure from increasing human activity and over-exploitation and changes in fire and climatic regimes. Together these drivers can significantly alter savanna biodiversity and biogeochemical function with implications for dependent human welfare and happiness. Specifically, there is considerable uncertainty regarding the potential individual and interactive impacts of these phenomena on the biological and biogeochemical resilience of the underlying soils.  

    This PhD research will aim to improve understanding of the individual and interactive effects of grazing, fire and climate change on savanna soil biology, carbon biogeochemistry and resilience to future disturbance. The research will be focused on savanna ecosystems in South Africa that typify sub-tropical seasonal drylands found across the planet.  

    Student training will ensure specific research and transferable skills development that includes:

    • soil ecology and biogeochemistry
    • microbial molecular techniques
    • greenhouse gas sampling and analyses
    • isotope science
    • experimental design
    • statistics
    • scientific writing
    • research presentation/publication
    • project management
    • financial oversight and review
    • team working
    • advanced independent learning
    • working with partners from Witwatersrand and Pretoria Universities in RSA

    Application

    Open to UK and EU citizens. Please make enquiries to Professor Nick Ostle and Professor Kate Parr before making your application. 

  • The role of lateral and tree transport in methane cycling in tropical peatlands

     Supervisors:

    • Dr Sunitha Pangala (Lancaster Environment Centre, UK)
    • Dr. Niall McNamara (Centre Ecology & Hydrology, UK)
    • Dr. Alison Hoyt (Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Germany)

     

    Description

     Tropical peatlands in Southeast Asia have sequestered carbon over thousands of years and are an important global carbon stock. In natural peat swamp forests, high water levels, warm temperature and availability of carbon make them a perfect environment for methane producing microorganisms to thrive and produce increased quantities of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas know to contribute significantly to the global climate. Despite these ideal methane producing conditions, methane measurements from peat surfaces in tropical peatlands indicate that these ecosystems only release a fraction of methane compared to peatlands in other regions. Acidic conditions in peat and increased microbial methane oxidation by tree roots or within the peat surface have been suggested as possible theories to explain the low methane emissions from this region. In this project we will look at an alternative methane transport theory (figure 1) that may help explain the low methane emissions from the tropical peat surfaces. We propose that the observed low methane fluxes from the peat surface are the result of most methane being released via alternative pathways, namely 1) lateral transport into water courses and 2) tree transport to the atmosphere. Both these methane transport pathways have not been fully measured from any of the tropical peatland, which may have led to the earlier lower methane estimates.

     In this study, we will develop a comprehensive understanding of the production, transport and emissions of methane from peat swamp forests in Borneo (Brunei and Indonesia) using field measurements and modelling approaches. We will first measure methane emissions from peat, tree stem and aquatic surfaces capturing spatial variability to quantify the role of lateral and tree transport against peat surface emissions. Second, we will measure the methane, dissolved organic carbon and dissolved inorganic carbon concentrations in peat profiles across the peat dome to capture trends in depths. Third, these two measurements will be complemented with measurements of carbon isotopic (stable and radioactive isotopes) composition to identify the source and mechanism of methane produced and transported. Finally, we will use an isotope-based approach to develop a model of methane transport and emissions which will allow us to capture the changes in methane cycling due to water table fluctuations for the first time in these systems of global importance.

     What’s in it for you? The student will receive training in experimental design, planning and organising field campaigns and field sampling techniques as well as data analysis and interpretation and communicating research to a range of audiences. The student will receive specific scientific training in biogeochemical techniques (e.g. the use of portable greenhouse gas analysers and isotope-ratio mass spectrometers, chamber measurements, gas and water sample collection and analysis). The student will also be part of 4 field campaigns in peat swamp forests of Brunei and Indonesia and perform a range of carbon isotope tracer experiments to evaluate methane production, transport and emissions. Following field campaigns, the student will spend three months at Max Planck Institute and receive extensive training to develop and refine a methane transport and emission model.

    Who should apply? Students who have a strong background in environmental science, with prior knowledge of plant-soil carbon cycling and willingness to work in challenging field sites are encouraged to apply. The student will join an established, well-resourced and vibrant team researching plant-soil ecology, biogeochemistry and ecosystem science at Lancaster Environment Centre, UK. The student will spend significant periods of time in some of the most beautiful ecosystems on the planet – tropical peat swamp forests of Borneo.  

    Enquiries: Please email Dr Sunitha Pangala @ s.pangala@lancaster.ac.uk for further queries.

    Studentship funding: Full studentships (UK/EU tuition fees and stipend (£15,009 2019/20 [tax free])) for UK/EU students for 4 years, funded by the Royal Society. Unfortunately, funding is not available for International (non-EU) students. 

    Deadline for applications: 30 January 2020

    Provisional Interview Date: second/third week of Feb 2020         

    Start Date: April - October 2020 (early start is an option for interested students)

    Application process:

    1. Download the Application Form and Reference Form.
    2. Complete the Application Form, renaming the document with your ‘Name and Application Form’ e.g., Joe Bloggs Application Form.
    3. Submit the completed Application Form and a CV to Applica.yk2qaq0mzoyka4iu@u.box.com
    4.  Please note only Word or pdf files are accepted.
    5. Rename the referee form with your ‘Name and Reference’, e.g., Joe Bloggs Reference. Send the renamed reference form to two referees and request them to forward the referee document to Applica.yk2qaq0mzoyka4iu@u.box.com
    6. Please note only Word or pdf files are accepted. It is important that you ensure references are submitted by the closing date or as soon as possible.
    7. You will receive a generic acknowledgment in receipt of successfully sending the application documents.
    8. Please note that only applications submitted as per these instructions will be considered.
    9. Please note that, if English is not your first language, you will be required to provide evidence of your proficiency in English. This evidence is only required if you are offered a funded PhD, and is not required as part of this application process.
    10. Please note that, if you do not hear from us within four weeks of the closing date then you have been unsuccessful on this occasion. If you would like feedback on your application, please contact the supervisors of the project.

    Please note: Submit all applications and references to this unique email address: Applica.yk2qaq0mzoyka4iu@u.box.com

    Further reading

    • Gandois L, Teisserenc R, Cobba AR, Chieng HI, Lim LBL, Kamariah AS, Hoyt A, Harvey CF. 2014. Origin, composition, and transformation of dissolved organic matter in tropical peatlands. Geochemica et Cosmochimica Acta 137: 35-47.
    • Hoyt A. 2017. Carbon Fluxes from Tropical Peatlands: Methane, Carbon Dioxide and Peatland Subsidence. PhD thesis.
    • Pangala SR, Enrich-Prast A, Basso L, Peixoto RB, Bastviken D, Hornibrook ERC, Gatti L, Calazans LSB, Sakuragui CM, Marotto H, Basto WR, Malm O, Gloor E, Miller J, Gauci V. Large emissions from floodplain trees close the Amazon methane budget. Nature doi:10.1038/nature24639.
    • Pangala SR, Hornibrook ERC, Gowing DJ, Gauci V. 2015. Tree contribution of trees to ecosystem methane emissions in temperate forested wetland. Global Change biology 21: 2642-2654.
    • Pangala SR, Moore S, Hornibrook ERC, Gauci V. 2013. Trees are major conduits for methane egress from tropical forested wetlands. New Phytologist 197: 524-531.

     

  • Masters by Research Flower Power: Impacts of photovoltaic solar energy on floral resources for pollinators

    Supervisors

    Dr Alona Armstrong

    Dr Steve Grodsky

    Dr Rebecca Hernandez

    Description

    We seek a Master’s by Research student to conduct experiments related to optimization of floral resources for pollinators at solar parks to further inform techno-ecological synergies of solar energy. The student will be based at Lancaster University, co-supervised by Dr. Alona Armstrong (Lancaster University) and Dr. Rebecca Hernandez and Dr. Steve Grodsky (University of California, Davis). With the guidance of the PIs, the student will conduct research to assess the impact of microclimate niches created by solar energy development on plant traits, including those relevant to pollination. We seek to understand plant responses to altered microhabitat in solar parks and the resultant “bottom-up” ecological effects on potential for pollination services. The student will lead field work activities at a solar park near Lancaster University beginning in the spring of 2020. Fieldwork may include a species inventory, measurements of plant biomass, morphology, fitness, and so on, and careful collection and curation of plant samples for chemical analyses. The student should be prepared to conduct fieldwork throughout the 2020 growing season and to produce one peer-reviewed publication resulting from the research by the end of the one-year appointment.

     

    The student will gain experience of field, laboratory, analysis and scientific writing skills, international collaboration and develop knowledge in an emerging research area of international relevance. They will be based in a supportive and motivated energy-environment research group within Lancaster Environment Centre and maintain close contact with the dynamic Wild Energy group at University of California, Davis.

    Funding

    The tuition fee will be covered and the project has an associated research and training budget. Unfortunately there is no student stipend.

    Requirements

    Given the nature of the funding, all applicants must be a resident of the UK or EU. Applicants must possess an undergraduate degree graded 2:1 or better (or equivalent), ideally in plant ecology, ecology, biology, or related fields but exceptional candidates without specific degree requirements may be considered.

    Applicants should have experience with or a willingness to conduct fieldwork and possess the capacity for critical thinking and creativity, a willingness to learn, and the drive to see the project through to a minimum of one publication.

    Deadline for applications: 9th December 2019

    Interview date: 17th December 2019

    Start date: January or February 2020

    Application process

    1. Download the Application Form.
    2. Complete the Application Form, renaming the document with your ‘Name and Application Form’ (i.e. ‘Joe Bloggs Application Form’)
    3. Submit the completed Application Form and a CV, named ‘Name and CV’ (i.e. (i.e. ‘Joe Bloggs CV’) to Flower_.9edbfhp72k7iscl9@u.box.com
    4. Please note only Word or pdf files are accepted.
    5. You will receive a generic acknowledgment in receipt of successfully sending the application documents.
    6. Please note that only applications submitted as per these instructions will be considered.
    7. Please note that, if English is not your first language, you will be required to provide evidence of your proficiency in English. This evidence is only required if you are offered a funded PhD, and is not required as part of this application process.
    8. Please note that, if you do not hear from us within four weeks of the closing date then you have been unsuccessful on this occasion. If you would like feedback on your application, please contact the supervisors of the project.

    Please email Dr. Steve Grodsky or Dr. Alona Armstrong with any inquiries.

  • Roots to resilience: climate-proofing crop yields within future salad production
    Start October 2020
    Supervisor Professor Ian Dodd
    Based at Lancaster University
    Details Download the PDF
  • Bridging the crop-soil-water phosphorus gap: Managing phosphorus for sustainable crop production and sustainable water
    Start October 2020
    Supervisor Dr Jess Davies
    Based at Lancaster University
    Details Download the PDF
  • 'Cos' it’s worth it! Investigating how to mitigate ozone damage to salad crops
    Start October 2020
    Supervisor Dr Kirsti Ashworth
    Based at Lancaster University
    Details Download the PDF
  • Optimizing yield and flavour consistency of rocket greens
    Start October 2020
    Supervisor Dr Marjorie Lundgren
    Based at Lancaster University
    Details Download the PDF
  • iPotato: Using smart technologies to spot internal defects in potato
    Start October 2020
    Supervisor Professor Martin McAinsh
    Based at Lancaster University
    Details Download the PDF
  • Precision Apiculture: enhancing the health and effectiveness of managed honeybees for soft fruit production
    Start October 2020
    Supervisor Professor Simon Potts
    Based at University of Reading
    Details Download the PDF
  • Optimizing soil nitrogen in baby leaf salad crops for sustainable crop production
    Start October 2020
    Supervisor Dr Liz Shaw
    Based at University of Reading
    Details Download the PDF

How the application process works

  1. Select the project you wish to apply for. You can make informal enquiries to the project supervisors if you wish. Please ensure that you check the application deadline dates and eligibility criteria.
  2. Complete your application by following the links to the application form. At this stage, you are able to apply for more than one advertised project if you wish.
  3. After the closing date, the Department will consider all applications. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for an interview. Interviews can be arranged by Skype or telephone. The timescale for this will vary but is in the region of 4 weeks.
  4. If you are successful at interview for the studentship, you will be invited to formally apply via the admissions portal online. This ensures that you receive a formal offer of admission. Please submit one application only, and state the studentship that you have applied for in the source of funding section.
  5. Once a formal offer has been made, you will need to check the conditions in your offer letter and supply any outstanding documents by the required deadlines. If your offer is unconditional then this will not apply to you.

Research Groups

Facilities

Laboratories

You will find yourself taking advantage of several laboratory facilities at Lancaster Environment Centre. There are our £4.4 million Teaching Labs, for example, as well as specialist facilities for Environmental Chemistry, Noble Gas, and Plant and Soil Ecology.

Research Facilities

There are no fewer than 15 purpose-built glasshouse modules, 16 controlled environment plant growth rooms, 4 solar domes based at the Hazelrigg Weather Station and a suite of ultraviolet radiation research facilities that can truly claim to be world-class.

Field Sites

You could find yourself working at a range of catchment science sites across England and Wales, including the local River Eden Valley, or they can travel much further afield to the tropical forests of the Amazon and Borneo.

Cutting-Edge Technologies

You can be trained to use a range of equipment, such as our Stable Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer Facility, X-ray CT Scanner, Magnetometer or the LI-COR Portable Photosynthesis System, which has the capacity to measure plant gas exchange with exceptional speed and precision.

Rich Data Resources

Dedicated support staff with expertise in GIS, statistics, modelling, information technology and programming are available to provide specialist training in all aspects of data acquisition, processing and analysis.