Students Staff

06 November 2013

Essex to receive share of £100 million for environmental research

Cutting-edge science research at Essex has received a major boost after a partnership including leading universities from across the eastern region was awarded a share of £100 million by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

The money will fund 60 PhD students to carry out environmental research spanning a range of topics ̶ from climate change and extreme weather events to biodiversity and natural hazards such as volcanic eruptions.

The funding was awarded to Environment East (EnvEast) – a partnership between the Univeristies of East Anglia, Essex and Kent, who together form the Eastern Academic Research Consortium (ARC), and eight other core partners.

It is one of 15 successful Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs) announced by the Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts MP.

The majority of projects will involve students working collaboratively between two or more partners within or outside of the EnvEast partnership. The strong focus on collaboration within and between the DTPs allows partners to pool their experience to create rich training environments for students and encourage knowledge-sharing, which benefits environmental science researchers.

The aim is for EnvEast to create a strong and active community of students who are able – and encouraged – to integrate, work, and learn together. These students will receive in-depth, advanced research training, as well as training in the professional and transferable skills essential in today's economy.

Core partners with EnvEast include the British Antarctic Survey, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, the Marine Biology Association, the John Innes Centre, and the Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science.

Professor David Sanders, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at Essex, said: “Essex is delighted with the news that NERC will be supporting the EnvEast partnership. The partnership will produce a new generation of exceptionally well-trained scientists who will be in a position to address the key environmental challenges of the coming decades.”

Science and Universities minister David Willetts, announcing the award, said: “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.”

Prof Duncan Wingham, chief executive of NERC, said: “If UK environmental sciences are going to continue to prosper, we need to make sure we get the best from our students. These DTPs position us to compete in an increasingly competitive global environment by training students in the best possible way to use environmental sciences to help meet the challenges and opportunities facing us today.

"We want to provide these students with the skillsets and experiences to equip them to become future scientific leaders, and sustain the flow of top talent and skilled people for UK research, business and government. Encouraging collaboration between academic institutions and partners across the environmental sciences sector when delivering training for every student will help achieve this.”

This latest announcement means that Essex now has Doctoral Training Programmes supported by national research councils, in each of its three
Faculties, underlining Essex’s reputation as a vibrant place to study for a PhD, in natural science, social science and the humanities.

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Biological Sciences "Magic (muddy) moments" - Professor Graham Underwood from University of Essex on Vimeo.

More information

For more information about PhD opportunities at Essex visit the School of Biological Sciences website.

If you are a journalist and would like more information please contact the University of Essex Communications Office on 01206 872400 or e-mail:

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