Weatherproofing for a smarter, resilient and more sustainable agri-sector (CASE studentship with ...

University of East Anglia
October 10 2017
Position Type
Full Time
Organization Type

Wheat is one of the most important crops grown worldwide and, specifically, in the UK. Yet the most recent research shows that we don't fully understand what the relative effects of climate variability and varietal selection are on UK wheat yields and this is desperately needed by the agricultural sector to mitigate against losses and to enhance food security.

In crops, data from historical variety trial series are a powerful large multi-environment trial series which can be reanalysed to generate and test hypotheses about climatic causes of variety instability and adaptability. This project will build strongly on earlier analyses of historical trials data from the UK National List / Recommended List (NL/RL - Mackay et al. 2011). Ten years of additional data are now available and an exciting, more extensive project is now possible involving detailed study of variety sensitivities to local weather.

We believe incorporation of local weather records will, crucially, reveal the true impact of weather variability: the 2011 analysis detected differential variety sensitivity to winter temperatures and summer rainfall just by studying average weather patterns across years. The typical NL wheat variety is only in trial for six years, but is present at ~30 sites per year. Assessment of variety sensitivities to local weather patterns will result in a fuller description of the causes of variety x environment interactions. This work can highlight novel breeding targets and lead to improved crop modeling and to better interpretation of NL and RL trials data for growers. The critical importance of this work is highlighted by additional financial support offered by the British Society of Plant Breeders.

We are looking for a student with a background and/or strong interest in climate, food security and/or statistics. On the climate side, the student will have access to the full undergraduate and masters training programmes at UEA, as well as an internship opportunity at the UEA-based Weatherquest Ltd to learn about the provision of agro-climatological services. With co-supervision from leading scientists at the National Institute for Agricultural Botany, the student will also undertake periods of research and training at NIAB's John Bingham Laboratory, a Centre of Excellence for crop genetics research.

Secondary supervisors: Professor Andrew Lovett (UEA), Professor Ian Mackay (National Institute for Agricultural Botany, NIAB, Cambridge; CASE supervisor) Dr Alison Bentley (National Institute for Agricultural Botany, NIAB, Cambridge; CASE supervisor)


This project has been shortlisted for funding by the EnvEast NERC Doctoral Training Partnership, comprising the Universities of East Anglia, Essex and Kent, with over twenty other research partners. Undertaking a PhD with the EnvEast DTP will involve attendance at mandatory training events throughout the course of the PhD.

Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed on 12/13 February 2018.

Successful candidates who meet RCUK's eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC studentship - in 2017/18, the stipend is £14,553. In most cases, UK and EU nationals who have been resident in the UK for 3 years are eligible for a stipend. For non-UK EU-resident applicants NERC funding can be used to cover fees, RTSG and training costs, but not any part of the stipend. Individual institutes may, however, elect to provide a stipend from their own resources.

Studentship length: 3.5 years

EnvEast welcomes applicants from quantitative disciplines who may have limited background in environmental sciences. Excellent candidates will be considered for an award of an additional 3-month stipend to take appropriate advanced-level courses in the subject area.

For further information, please visit

This job comes from a partnership with Science Magazine and Euraxess

Similar jobs

Similar jobs