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

Accordion

  • 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 known 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 watercourses 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 for further queries.

    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. 

    Dates

    Deadline for applications: 30 March 2020

    Provisional Interview Date: to be confirmed         

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

    Application process

    1. Download the LEC Funded PhD Application Form and LEC Funded PhD 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 lec.pgr.applications@lancaster.ac.uk
    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 lec.pgr.applications@lancaster.ac.uk
    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 acknowledgement 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.

    Submit all applications and references to this email address: lec.pgr.applications@lancaster.ac.uk

    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 a 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.

     

  • Meltwater Ice-Sheet interactions and the changing climate of Greenland

    Supervisors

    • Dr Amber Leeson (Lancaster University)
    • Dr Alison Banwell (Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder)

    Description

    The Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) is shrinking as Earth’s climate warms. In fact, meltwater which runs off the ice sheet is expected to contribute ~10 cm to global sea level by 2100. This would double the number of people currently experiencing flooding, potentially causing the loss of lives and livelihoods worldwide. In addition to this direct impact, on its journey out to sea, the meltwater runoff is implicated in a range of processes which also contribute to ice loss (known as feedbacks). Importantly, this includes surface meltwater which is routed underneath the ice sheet, where it can lubricate ice flow. This suggests that increases in melt due to a warming climate could lead to a sustained speed-up of the ice sheet; leading to a thinning and flattening. This would exacerbate melting by bringing more ice to lower elevations with warmer air temperatures. Because of the complicated processes and feedbacks involved, it is not yet clear whether such a sustained speed-up will occur, however, our previous research has shown that surface meltwater will reach larger and larger areas of the sub-ice sheet environment in the future.

    The MII Greenland project

    At present, future GrIS changes (e.g. estimates of sea-level contribution which feature in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - IPCC - assessment reports) are predicted using ice sheet models which do not fully account for the feedback processes outlined above. The impact of surface melting on ice flow is controlled by surface and basal hydrological features, for example, lakes and streams. These features are too small, and evolve too quickly, for the ice sheet models to simulate, which is why they have not been included in these models until now.

    In the MII-Greenland project, we are developing a new, robust, coupled hydrology/ice-sheet model which is thoroughly constrained and tested against observations. We will then use the model to 1) improve our understanding of the role of surface meltwater in ice dynamics and 2) simulate the GrIS response to changes in surface melting expected under IPCC climate warming scenarios.

    Who should apply?

    We are looking for a PhD student to join the MII-Greenland team to work on a topic which is complementary to these aims. Whilst we have already identified a potential line of enquiry detailed below, we are also happy to work with the skills and interests of the successful applicant to develop an alternative research topic, under the auspices of the main project.

    Title: The evolution and impact of extreme high/low melt years on Greenland Ice Sheet hydrology

    Objectives:

    1. To use satellite remote sensing to understand how the characteristics of Greenland’s supraglacial hydrological network change in extreme high (e.g. 2012) and extreme low (e.g. 2017) melt years. For example, do we see significant differences in the location and timing of meltwater delivery to the bed e.g. through draining lakes?
    2. To use the coupled hydrology/dynamical model developed in MII Greenland to investigate the impact that extreme high/low met years have on ice dynamics. This would be a quantitative assessment of both short and long term effects, i.e. transient speed-up events caused by rapid lake drainages vs. compensating slow-down periods as a result of efficient subglacial drainage.
    3. Explore the implications of (2) under a future, warmer, climate, for example by performing forward simulations using the model under a range of IPCC warming scenarios, and a range of potential future ice thicknesses.

    The student will be jointly supervised by Dr Amber Leeson at Lancaster University and Dr Alison Banwell at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder. There will be the opportunity to pay a short research visit to Boulder to work directly with Dr Banwell as well as opportunities to attend MII-Greenland project meetings and present research at conferences.

    Enquiries

    All enquiries should be made to Dr Amber Leeson

    Funding

    Full studentships UK/EU tuition fees and stipend (£15,009 2019/2020 tax-free) for 3.5 years for UK/EU students subject to eligibility criteria. Unfortunately, studentships are not available to non-UK/EU applicants

    Dates

    Deadline for applications: 29 February 2020

    Provisional Interview Date: late March/early April 2020

    Start Date: October 2020 

    Application process

    1. Download the LEC Funded PhD Application Form and LEC Funded PhD 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 lec.pgr.applications@lancaster.ac.uk
    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 lec.pgr.applications@lancaster.ac.uk
    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 acknowledgement 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.

    Submit all applications and references to this email address: lec.pgr.applications@lancaster.ac.uk

  • Downscaling and cross-scale integration of land use data and models for building pathways towards sustainable food and land use systems

    Details

    Supervisors Pete Atkinson
    Paula Harrison
    Pete Henrys
    Closing Date Wednesday 18th March
    Expected Interview Date Wednesday 1st April

    Description

    Food and land use systems are unsustainable in every part of the world. Today's practices drive biodiversity, forest, and other ecosystem losses; cause water scarcity, and threaten the health of freshwater ecosystems through chemical and fertilizer run-off. From a climate change perspective, food systems and land use are crucial. They account for over a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, and unprecedented biodiversity loss. However, better land- and water-use planning, strengthened governance, policy reform, technological innovation and investment could deliver around a third of the mitigation the world needs by 2030 and help achieve the Paris Agreement's long-term goal of keeping the rise of average global temperatures to "well below 2°C".

    Most countries lack tools for integrated land use planning that take account of the complex synergies and trade-offs between agriculture, water, land use, biodiversity, healthy diets, and greenhouse gas emissions. Integrated assessment models which couple together multiple sectoral models to simulate some of these interdependencies have been developed at the global and European levels. However, such models are generally applied at very coarse spatial resolutions whereas land management decisions are taken at finer spatial scales. This PhD will develop methods for downscaling a global/European integrated assessment model to the UK. This could include integrating it with other land-use modelling approaches more appropriate to capturing fine resolution processes and interactions. It could also include testing new machine learning techniques that automatically refine or improve fine-resolution simulations based on new land-use data. The PhD will also contribute to the development of methods to interface the UK model with multiple country versions from different parts of the world as well as the global model. Crucially, this will enable international trade flows in agricultural and forest commodities to be integrated into national decision-making, ensuring the UK and other countries do not meet their national goals by exporting their environmental footprint. Scenario and pathway analysis will be undertaken with the interfaced multi-scale models to inform sustainable food and land-use systems in both national and international contexts accounting for the full propagation on uncertainty across model components and scales.

    The PhD will collaborate with the FABLE Consortium, which mobilizes top knowledge institutions from G20 and other countries to support the development of the data and modelling infrastructure for long-term pathways towards sustainable food and land-use systems. Currently, 22 countries are involved in FABLE modelling activities covering 62% of the world's population (including China, India, Brazil, Ethiopia, USA, Australia, Argentina and Indonesia). Hence, the PhD student will have the opportunity to interact with modellers and data scientists from these countries, as well as IIASA and the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) who coordinate FABLE. This is also a unique opportunity to undertake a PhD with significant impact as outputs will help inform national policy debates in real-time as well as the intergovernmental processes on climate.

    How to Apply

    Applications are invited for a fully-funded PhD studentship in which you will learn to develop cutting-edge data science approaches to address a key environmental science challenge related to sustainable land use.

    The studentship is part of the £2.6million EPSRC-funded grant Data Science for the Natural Environment (DSNE), a joint project between Lancaster University and the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. This is an exciting opportunity to work at the heart of a multi-disciplinary team of researchers consisting of environmental scientists, computer scientists, statisticians and stakeholder organisations, working together to deliver methodological innovation in data science to tackle grand challenges around environmental change. The student will be registered at Lancaster University. The studentship covers the full fees and stipend of UK/EU applicants only (i.e. does not cover the full fees of non-EU applicants).

    The DSNE research programme is a prestigious and high profile research programme targeting a paradigm shift in the role of data in environmental science and leading to long-term impact in decision making. The research is arranged around methodological developments in three core methodological themes (integrated statistical modelling, machine learning and decision-making, and virtual lab development), interlocked with three challenge themes from the environmental sciences (ice sheet melt prediction, air quality modelling and land-use modelling) The PhD topic available is listed below.

    Prospective applicants are encouraged to contact Professor Pete Atkinson (pma@lancaster.ac.uk) or Professor Paula Harrison (email: PaulaHarrison@ceh.ac.uk) before making an application.

    To apply

    Please send a letter of application to dsne@lancaster.ac.uk by 5pm Wednesday 18th March. The letter should include:

    • An explanation and reasoning about why you want to be considered for the project
    • An explanation of why your skillset and previous education will allow you to be successful in this project (a transcript of your undergraduate or masters degree programme is likely to be helpful)

    Unfortunately, while we can cover the full fees and stipend for UK/EU applicants, the full fee of non-EU applicants cannot be covered.

  • Political ecology of natural resource management: actors, communities, institutions

    Supervisor

    Description

    The mainstream policy promotes the community management of natural resources (land, water, forests) as a central strategy for sustainable development. Yet at the local level, community-based institutions often produce unequal configurations of access and benefits. How can we better understand the everyday practices and evolving institutional arrangements which produce these outcomes?  And can we identify any possibilities for interventions in support of more just arrangements?

    This PhD research will draw on political ecology and critical institutional perspectives to research this problem. Key questions might include:

    • How do local people’s beliefs about social orders, human-nature interactions and fair distributions shape local institutional arrangements?
    • How do institutions define practical citizenship in relation to resource entitlements? 
    • How are moral and social ideas about landscapes and infrastructure formed, and how do they influence resource management? 
    • How do ‘interface bureaucrats’ navigate between the different logics, knowledge and explanations of the bureaucratic, community and personal fields? 

    Within these general areas, the PhD candidate will have scope to develop their own interests.

    The research will be set within specific contexts and localities of natural resource management in the global south. There will be opportunities to build on ongoing international research and to link to the partners and field sites of current projects. These include the Greenmentality project https://greenmentalityblog.wordpress.com/about/

    and Transformations to Groundwater Sustainability project https://t2sresearch.org/project/t2sgs/

    What's in it for the candidate

    The candidate will develop knowledge of everyday environmental governance, a very topical field. They will be trained in generic social scientific skills (i.e. research design and methods, data collection, analysis and academic writing). They will gain in-depth knowledge pf particular field sites and contexts in the global south.

    Who should apply

    We are looking for someone with a good (2:1) social science masters degree in a relevant subject, with some knowledge and experience of the dynamics of natural resource governance in the global south. You should be able to demonstrate an interest in the subject. You should also have a strong interest in qualitative research methods, be willing to undertake independent fieldwork in rural areas and to build contacts and networks to facilitate this.

    Enquiries

    All enquiries should be made to Professor Frances Cleaver

    Funding

    Full studentships UK/EU tuition fees and stipend (£15,009 2019/2020 tax-free) for 3.5 years for UK/EU students subject to eligibility criteria. Unfortunately, studentships are not available to non-UK/EU applicants

    Dates

    • Deadline for applications: 13 March 2020
    • Provisional Interview Date: early April 2020
    • Start Date: October 2020 

    Application process

    1. Download the LEC Funded PhD Application Form and LEC Funded PhD 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 lec.pgr.applications@lancaster.ac.uk
    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 lec.pgr.applications@lancaster.ac.uk
    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 acknowledgement 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.

    Submit all applications and references to this email address: lec.pgr.applications@lancaster.ac.uk

  • Trajectories of soil structural change

    Supervisors

    Description

    Linked to the NERC/NSF funded (2020-2023) ‘Detecting soil degradation and restoration through a novel coupled sensor and machine learning framework’(Soil Change) project.

    If you are keen to apply your science to the understanding the future sustainability of our planets most precious asset, then this could be the PhD for you. Soil is critical to food production, carbon sequestration, water storage and water quality. However, nearly 1/3 of soils globally are degrading, therefore monitoring and predicting the trajectory and rate of soil change will be critical for humanity will be critical. To this end, you will join a team working on a NERC/NSF funded Signals in the Soil – Soil Change Project (in collaboration with the Universities of Manchester and Colorado-Boulder). The Soil Change Project will develop novel multi-functional soil sensing platforms and harness the power of mechanistic understanding with machine learning to detect rates and detection of soil change. This PhD project will bring additional value to the work by developing tools for forecasting soil structural change, which controls soil hydrology, plant growth and erosion. We want to understand the potential thresholds that, once past, result in feedback mechanisms that lead to rapid structural degradation, and whether this degradation can be reversed.  The PhD will build on work by Quinton and James (Lancaster Environment Centre) on the use of near-surface imagery to quantify changes in the soil surface and combine it with statistical approaches and mechanistic machine learning (Killick and Nemeth, Maths and Statistics).  As the science surrounding structural degradation remains largely empirical and there is a potential to make a significant step towards shifting the science in this area to a more mechanistic and predictive paradigm.

    What's in it for me

    During the PhD you will develop skills in experimental design, field and laboratory experimentation, statistical change point detection analysis of time series data/ and or machine learning. We will shape the PhD programme to play to the strengths of the student

    Who should apply

    Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in Natural Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Geology, Ecology, Geography, Maths and Statistics, Engineering or Computing.

    Enquiries

    For an informal conversation about the project contact Professor John Quinton or Dr Rebecca Killick.

    Funding

    Full studentships (UK/EU tuition fees and stipend (£15,285 2020/21 [tax-free])) for UK/EU students for 3 years. Unfortunately, funding is not available for International (non-EU) students.

    Dates

    • Deadline: 9 March 10:00am
    • Provisional interview date: to be confirmed
    • Start date:  October 2020

    Application process

    1. Download the LEC Funded PhD Application Form and LEC Funded PhD 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 lec.pgr.applications@lancaster.ac.uk
    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 lec.pgr.applications@lancaster.ac.uk
    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 acknowledgement 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.

    Submit all applications and references to this email address: lec.pgr.applications@lancaster.ac.uk

     

  • Masters by Research - Utopia or dystopia: how do solar parks impact the hosting ecosystem?

    Supervisors

    Description

    Are you interested in ecosystems? Do you wonder what the implications of land-use change are for ecosystem function and the things they provide to society? Do you want to develop or enhance your understanding of energy systems and your field and laboratory skills? If so, come and do a Masters by Research with us to learn how ecosystems respond to land-use change for solar parks!

    We seek a motivated Masters by Research student to contribute to the Energy, Environment and Landscapes theme of the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC). You will be based within the Energy-Environment team (twitter: @Energy_Environ), which is nested within the Soil, Plant and Land Systems research group at Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC), supervised by Dr Alona Armstrong and Dr Fabio Carvalho G Da Silva.

    What you’ll do

    With support and guidance from the supervisors, you will conduct research on the ecosystem implications of land-use change for solar parks within the UK. The broad aims and hypothesis of the project are defined, but you will have the opportunity to further develop and refine them to your own interests. As a team, we will assess the climatic, vegetation, soil and invertebrate responses to land-use change for solar parks, visiting numerous sites across the UK on an extended field campaign during summer 2020 (this will necessitate overnight trips away). This team approach will provide broader experiences than standard for a Masters by Research, developing your skills in field monitoring and sampling and associated laboratory analysis. The element that you write up for your dissertation will be dependent on your interests and strengths and those of the broader team. For example, you may focus on the implications for soil health, biodiversity or invertebrate populations.

    What’s in it for you

    You will become an expert in a growing topical field – the ecosystem implications of land-use change for low carbon energy. In addition to training opportunities provided by LEC, the Faculty of Science and Technology and Lancaster University, you will have the opportunity to develop skills in a number of techniques through bespoke training, including estimating primary productivity by measuring above and belowground biomass, quantifying plant and soil nutrient concentrations via dry combustion and wet digestion methods, determining nutrient cycling through decomposition experiments and measuring plant functional traits to understand their response to environmental change and their impact on ecosystem services. You will also enhance your statistical analysis and data representation skills and we will support you to convert the dissertation into a journal article, developing your scientific writing skills. Finally, you will be part of a motivated and supportive team, working together to further the emerging understanding of energy-ecosystem interactions.

    Funding

    The tuition fee will be covered and there are an associated research and training budget, however, 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, or be on track for, an undergraduate degree graded 2:1 or better (or equivalent), ideally in ecology, environmental science, geography, biology, or related fields. Candidates without specific degree requirements but with relevant work experience may be considered.

    Applicants should have experience of (or a willingness to learn) fieldwork and laboratory skills, understanding of basic statistics, be able to work as part of a team and independently, and have the motivation to undertake research to a publishable standard.

    Dates

    • Deadline for applications: 6th April
    • You’ll be informed if you are shortlisted by 10th April
    • Interview date: 20th April
    • Start date: Late May/Early June 2020

    Application process

    1. Download the LEC Masters by Research application 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 lec.pgr.applications@lancaster.ac.uk
    4. Please note only Word or pdf files are accepted.
    5. You will receive a generic acknowledgement 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.
  • Tracking Greenland’s Melting Ice from Space

    Supervisor

    Description

    This project offers the exciting opportunity to study Greenland ice sheet melting, and its associated impact upon the global sea-level rise, using recent advances in satellite and ground-based radar systems.

    Melting of the polar ice sheets has increased rapidly over the past twenty years and currently contributes over one-third of global sea-level rise. As Earth’s climate continues to warm during the 21st Century, increasing ice melt will drive further rises in global sea level that will threaten many vulnerable coastal communities.

    To track the changes that are currently underway in the Polar regions requires detailed, large-scale monitoring efforts. Given the vast and inaccessible nature of the ice sheets, this is only feasible from space. One technique that has proved extremely valuable in recent decades is that of satellite radar altimetry, which is able to track the movement of the ice surface; thereby resolving the detailed pattern of ice sheet mass loss across Greenland and Antarctica.

    In this project, you will develop new measurements of Greenland Ice Sheet melting and mass loss using the latest generation of high-resolution satellite altimeters (CryoSat-2, ICESat-2, Sentinel-3). Focusing on the most sensitive coastal regions of Greenland, where complex topography and narrow outlet glaciers are common, you will use recent advances in satellite technology to retrieve new information about how these vulnerable regions are changing, and the extent to which they are contributing to ongoing sea-level rise. Crucially, you will also have the exciting opportunity to work alongside experts in radar engineering to develop and test a new state-of-the-art ground-based radar system, that will be designed to mimic the satellite measurements themselves. It is expected (subject to funding) that, once designed and tested, there will be the opportunity for you to deploy the new radar in the field, to collect ground measurements with which to validate the satellite datasets.

    Training

    The successful candidate will gain expertise in satellite and ground-based radar techniques, providing the training for a future career in glaciology, polar science or broader environmental research. The project will be hosted within the Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC) and benefit from cross-disciplinary supervision by Mal McMillan (LEC), Lai Bun Lok (Engineering), and Amber Leeson (LEC). The successful candidate will join a growing community of polar scientists at Lancaster, which currently comprises 8 PhD students and 1 postdoctoral researcher, and offers a collaborative and supportive training environment for PhD study.

    Additionally, the successful candidate will also become a member of the UK Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (a national research centre with over twenty years of experience of satellite radar altimetry design, development and data processing), and the Lancaster University-CEH Centre of Excellence in Environmental Data Science (a new initiative that aims to grow collaborations between environmental and data scientists). The PhD will offer extensive opportunities to collaborate with glaciologists, climate scientists, engineers and data scientists, and to work closely with the European Space Agency.

    Further Information

    • Funding is available on a competitive basis to UK and EU candidates only
    • Closing date: Monday 9th March
    • Informal enquiries are welcome; please email Mal McMillan, m.mcmillan@lancaster.ac.uk

    Application Process

    1. Download the LEC Funded PhD Application Form and LEC Funded PhD 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 lec.pgr.applications@lancaster.ac.uk
    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 lec.pgr.applications@lancaster.ac.uk
    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 acknowledgement 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.

    Submit all applications and references to this email address: lec.pgr.applications@lancaster.ac.uk

  • Developing Countries - fully funded PhD studentship

    Description

    Lancaster Environment Centre (UK) is offering one fully-funded PhD studentship to a student from developing countries within the field of Environment. The studentships will cover all fees for a three year PhD, a stipend of a minimum of £15,009 (2019/20 rate) to cover living costs and research support and training grant to cover research costs.

    Applicants are invited from nationals of countries with medium or low human development as defined by the United Nations Human Development Programme Development Report published in 2018.  Applicants should hold a good undergraduate degree and meet university English Language requirements. Full details are provided here.

    Applicants should hold a good UK equivalent undergraduate degree and are asked to submit a CV, a one-page personal statement outlining their experience and why they would like to study for PhD and a two-page research proposal which details the research they would like to conduct at Lancaster Environment Centre. Please do not send an application longer than two pages, if you do then only the first two pages will be considered. In their research proposal applicants are also asked to identify up to three potential supervisors for their research. Supervisors must be members of academic staff at Lancaster Environment Centre, a list of academic staff can be found here. Please select staff members with research expertise in your chosen area. Applications should be submitted to lec.pgr.applications@lancaster.ac.uk with ‘Developing Countries’ specified in the subject line. The deadline for applications is 31 March 2020.

    As one of the world’s largest centres for environmental research, Lancaster Environment Centre’s academic expertise spans the natural and social sciences, offering balanced perspectives on what are complex societal challenges. We have more than 65 academic staff, 160 PhD students and 50 post-doctoral researchers spanning the social, physical and biological aspects of the environment.

    Lancaster University is a highly ranked global university and is ranked in the top 10 UK universities in three major league tables.  Lancaster University was awarded the highest possible score in the UK governments teaching excellence framework and was awarded the University of the Year in 2018. Lancaster is a research-intensive university, with 35% of our research classed as world-leading and 48% classed as internationally excellent in the UK Government's latest independent review.

    Dates

    • Deadline for applications: 31 March 2020
    • Interview date:  via Skype
    • Start date: October 2020

    Please email lec-pgr@lancaster.ac.uk if you have any enquiries.

  • Roots to resilience: climate-proofing crop yields within future salad production
    Start October 2020
    Supervisor Professor Ian Dodd
    Based at Lancaster University
    Details Ian Dodd Roots to Resilience
  • 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 Jess Davies Bridging the crop-soil-water phosphorus gap
  • '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 Kirsti Ashworth Cos it worth it
  • Optimizing yield and flavour consistency of rocket greens
    Start October 2020
    Supervisor Dr Marjorie Lundgren
    Based at Lancaster University
    Details Marjorie Lundgren Optimizing yeild and flavour of rocket greens
  • iPotato: Using smart technologies to spot internal defects in potato
    Start October 2020
    Supervisor Professor Martin McAinsh
    Based at Lancaster University
    Details Martin McAinsh iPotato Using Smart Technologies
  • 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 Simon Potts Precision Apiculture
  • 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 Liz Shaw - Optimising Baby Leaf
  • Sun drenched or sun starved: Evaluating climate and ecosystem impacts of solar energy development

    Supervisors

    • Dr Alona Armstrong (LEC)
    • Dr Rebecca R. Hernandez (University of California, Davis, WildEnergy.org)

    Description

    The rationale

    Decarbonisation of energy supplies to mitigate climate change is triggering notable land take across the world. Land-use change is the greatest driver of the decline in nature and therefore, such decisions risk trading global-scale climate change for local-scale ecosystem degradation. However, there is also the potential to use land-use change for renewable energy to facilitate improvements in ecosystem health. Understanding the impacts of ground-mounted solar energy power plants, including those using photovoltaic and concentrating solar power technologies, on ecosystems is very limited despite their rapid growth rates.

    The focus

    This PhD will resolve the local climate impacts of solar energy plants and consequences for ecosystem carbon cycling, elucidating how responses vary with solar energy and ecosystem types across the world to calculate the true carbon cost of the electricity produced. Example research questions include: (1) How is landscape carbon sequestration affected by solar energy development? (2) How does the size and configuration of a solar energy plant influence local climate and ecosystem responses? (3) Which ecosystems types are most resilient to solar energy power plant development?

    What's in it for the candidate

    The candidate will develop knowledge of the environmental impacts of renewable energy technologies, a very topical field. They will be trained in generic scientific skills (i.e. scientific writing, experimental design, and statistical analysis) and specific skills, for example, remote sensing, GIS, field monitoring with environmental instruments and sensors, and carbon modelling. Finally, they will gain knowledge of both temperate and arid ecosystems with the opportunity to undertake fieldwork in the UK, Mojave Desert and possibly other locations, including China.

    Who should apply

    We are looking for a self-motivated student interested in developing spatial analysis skills with an interest in land-use change and/or renewable energy. They will enjoy being part of a supportive team of energy-environment researchers in Lancaster Environment Centre and co-supervised by Dr Rebecca R. Hernandez at the University of California, Davis.

    Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in environmental science, geography, ecology, statistics or computing.

    Enquiries

    Please email Dr Alona Armstrong a.armstrong@lancaster.ac.uk to discuss the PhD further.

    Funding

    Full studentships (UK/EU tuition fees and stipend (£15,009 2019/20 [tax-free])) for UK/EU students for 3.5 years. Unfortunately, funding is not available for International (non-EU) students.

    Dates

    • Deadline for applications: 29 February 2020
    • Provisional Interview Date: late March/early April 2020
    • Start Date: October 2020

    Application process

    1. Download the LEC Funded PhD Application Form and LEC Funded PhD 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 lec.pgr.applications@lancaster.ac.uk
    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 lec.pgr.applications@lancaster.ac.uk
    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 acknowledgement 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.

    Submit all applications and references to this email address: lec.pgr.applications@lancaster.ac.uk

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.