Leicester to benefit from NERC funding for Central England training centre programme

NERC pledges £100M for postgraduate training

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) is investing over £100 million over the next five years as part of its continued support of environmental science PhD training in the second round of the Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTP) programme.

The University of Leicester is set to benefit from the investment as a partner in the CENTA2 (Central England NERC Training Alliance 2) DTP.

The PhD training centres, known as DTPs, underpin the UK’s world-leading profile within the environmental science community and bring together universities, research organisations and partners from a wide range of backgrounds, including higher education institutes, charities, NGOs, government bodies and industry leaders.

DTPs will train the scientists of tomorrow by providing the scientific, professional and technical skills that increase the UK’s scientific capability to solve environmental problems. Together DTPs will train the highly-skilled workforce that the UK needs for its future as a leader in cutting-edge research, innovation, and sustainable economic growth.

The 2018 DTP call was an open and competitive process that identified 17 DTPs to host PhD studentships funded by NERC.  Each DTP was assessed on the basis of excellence through a transparent, peer-reviewed application process.

The PhD studentships will be available over the course of five annual admissions, starting in the 2019/20 academic year. Each DTP will recruit a number of students every year, which will create a cohort of students who will network, train, and tackle challenges together. 

The University of Birmingham is leading the CENTA2 (Central England NERC Training Alliance 2) DTP having worked together on the proposal with members from all partner institutions including University of Leicester, University of Warwick, Loughborough University, The Open University and Cranfield University as well as the British Geological Survey, National Centre of Earth Observation, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and the National Centre for Atmospheric Science. 

Professor Mark Purnell, Dean of Research for the University of Leicester’s College of Science and Engineering, said: “This is great news for the University of Leicester’s world class environmental research. As one of the leading partners in the CENTA2 Doctoral Training Partnership, this funding will ensure we continue to attract the best of the next generation of environmental scientists into the partnership, and to Leicester.”

Professor Tim Wheeler, Director of Research and Innovation at NERC, said: “This investment will provide a bedrock for the environmental science community, fostering the next generation of highly skilled professionals that bring together specialist knowledge from academia, industry and beyond.”

Dr Gregor Leckebusch, from the University of Birmingham’s School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, who leads the CENTA2 DTP, said: “We are looking forward to the exciting opportunity to provide an outstanding training environment creating the next generation of leaders in science, industry and society. In collaboration with our partners from industry, public agencies and NGOs, we will train doctoral students to the highest standards based on our world-leading research excellence.”

Sam Gyimah, Minister for Science and Innovation, said: “The UK is alive with ambitious young minds that have the potential to shape the science and research landscape, stretching existing boundaries of knowledge and conquering the challenges of tomorrow.

“Making the most of the UK’s world-leading reputation in science and innovation is at the core of our modern Industrial Strategy, and it is today’s young people that will fulfil this ambition to create a Britain fit for the future.”