£5 million to train next generation of environmental scientists

Friday 8 November 2013

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Five million pounds has been awarded to a joint partnership, including University of St Andrews’ Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, to deliver PhD scholarships in the Environmental and Earth Sciences.

This funding will allow talented young scientists to address some of the most critical challenges facing us today, including:

  •  Global environmental change and its impact on glaciers, sea levels and the climate;
  •  Energy and the study of the Earth’s resources;
  •  Exploring the carbon cycle and its relationship to forests, peatlands and the oceans;
  •  Natural hazards; including volcanoes, earthquakes, and flooding.

The investment comes from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and will fund over 60 PhD scholarships over the next five years.

The partnership, named IAPETUS after the ancient ocean that closed to bring together Northern England and Scotland, also includes the Universities of Durham, Glasgow, Newcastle and Stirling, as well as the British Geological Survey and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology.

Students supported by IAPETUS will receive world-class training and development, equipping them with the skills and knowledge to be leaders and experts in their chosen fields. Building on the strengths and expertise of all our partner organisations, IAPETUS students will benefit from a collaborative, interdisciplinary environment in which to conduct research, together with access to world-class laboratory and field resources, facilities and services.

A key feature of IAPETUS’ approach to postgraduate training and development will be working closely with businesses, policy-makers and the public and third sectors to provide students with opportunities to put their knowledge and skills into practice. Over 35 external partners have already signed-up to support IAPETUS – including major energy companies, national charities and key public bodies, ranging from BP, to the National Trust for Scotland and the Ordnance Survey. At least 30% of IAPETUS funding will be given to support projects that involve collaboration beyond academia.

Dr Tony Prave, Reader in Earth Sciences and Director of Research at the University of St Andrews, said:

“The collaborative opportunities that are now available through the IAPETUS DTP are exciting and will enable St Andrews to participate as a key player in research and training that is defining the forefront of Earth and environmental sciences not only in Britain but worldwide.”

Professor Danny Donoghue, academic lead for IAPETUS at Durham University, commented:

“The shared expertise, resources and facilities that will be offered through IAPETUS and our breath of disciplines means that our DTP is considerably greater than the sum of its parts and we welcome this exciting opportunity to support excellence in training the next generation of environmental and Earth scientists.”


IAPETUS will announce further information about the scholarships available to students seeking to commence a PhD in the next academic year later this month, aiming to recruit and support the very best postgraduate students in the environmental and earth sciences.

Further information about IAPETUS can be found at http://www.dur.ac.uk/iapetus/

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