Funding will keep UK at the forefront of environmental science research

The University of Sheffield has received a share of £100m funding from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) to train the next generation of environmental scientists.

ToucanScience and Universities Minister David Willets announced on Monday 4 November 2013 that the University of Sheffield’s joint bid with the Universities of Liverpool, York and the NERC’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology for a Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) had been successful.

The University’s joint application is one of 15 partnerships to receive a share of the funding pot. The Sheffield-lead partnership will see 21 new environmental science PhD students beginning training every year for five years, including additional PhDs funded by the three partner universities.

The University’s DTP, Adapting to the Challenges of Changing Environment (ACCE), aims to develop confident and multi-skilled postgraduate students who can relate the science they undertake to business, policy, public needs and society. Specifically, the ACCE partnership will focus on the areas of environmental resources, biodiversity, evolutionary change and the impact of climate change on populations, communities and ecosystems.

In addition to this subject-specific training, the students will receive training in enhanced professional skills in areas such as commercialisation of research, policy and entrepreneurial skills. These training opportunities aim to address the environmental science skills gaps identified in NERC’s skills review 2012.

Professor, Mike Siva-Jothy, Head of the University of Sheffield’s Department of Animal and Plant Sciences and named director of ACCE said: “We are delighted to have received the funding from NERC to allow us to train the next generation of environmental scientists; they will undertake cutting edge research in leading institutes and will address the environmental science questions that affect the world.
“ACCE PhD students will also experience an intensive and supportive research-training programme with access to world-class scientists, laboratories and equipment.”

The successful ACCE partnership includes collaborations with approximately 30 partner organisations, including businesses, policy-makers, and public and third-sector organisations, such as The Environment Agency, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Natural England and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Dr Gareth Phoenix, also from the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, who coordinated the joint bid, added: “At least 40 per cent of ACCE students will work with and undertake research projects with non-academic partners with the aim of helping to keep the UK at the forefront of research training and provide students with the training experience they need to enter a wide range of careers.”

Science and Universities minister David Willets added: “This significant investment highlights the Government’s commitment to supporting postgraduate training and research in the environmental sciences. We’re dedicated to providing the next generation of environmental researchers with the necessary skills and training to succeed in academia and industry.”

Additional information

More information about the other successful partnerships can be found at:

ACCE will begin advertising PhD projects in late November with an expected start date of October 2014. The projects will be available at all of the four partner institutes of The University of Sheffield, The University of York, The University of Liverpool and Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

The University of Sheffield

With nearly 25,000 of the brightest students from 117 countries coming to learn alongside 1,209 of the world’s best academics, it is clear why the University of Sheffield is one of the UK’s leading universities. Staff and students at Sheffield are committed to helping discover and understand the causes of things - and propose solutions that have the power to transform the world we live in.

A member of the Russell Group, the University of Sheffield has a reputation for world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines. The University of Sheffield has been named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards 2011 for its exceptional performance in research, teaching, access and business performance. In addition, the University has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes (1998, 2000, 2002, 2007), recognising the outstanding contribution by universities and colleges to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.

One of the markers of a leading university is the quality of its alumni and Sheffield boasts five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students. Its alumni have gone on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, Boots, AstraZeneca, GSK, Siemens, Yorkshire Water and many more household names, as well as UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

The University has well-established partnerships with a number of universities and major corporations, both in the UK and abroad. The White Rose University Consortium (White Rose) a strategic partnership between 3 of the UK's leading research universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York. Since its creation in 1997 White Rose has secured more than £100M into the Universities.


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