Global Challenges Research Fund Environmental Science PhD Studentship

Open University is delighted to offer a PhD position in environmental sciences. Candidates are welcome before January 06, 2019.

The School of Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences at The Open University is home to a thriving campus-based research community located in Milton Keynes, and at any one time, we have about 25 full-time PhD students on campus in addition to others working on a full-time and part-time basis at other institutes and locations across the UK. In addition to our excellent research facilities, we have developed a strong reputation for the quality of support and training offered to all our PhD students, to ensure they can develop into strong independent researchers.

We are therefore pleased to be offering a unique opportunity to study for a PhD in Environmental Science as part of the GCRF studentships (Global Challenges Research Fund), with guidance from leading experts in the field. If you feel that the challenge of research in these exciting and interesting areas is for you and you have the drive and intellectual curiosity to pursue postgraduate research, then we look forward to hearing from you!

The Open University is one of the UK's leading Research Institutions. In the 2014 REF 72% of its research was rated as "world leading" or "internationally excellent".

Macadamia nuts are food and export crop of increasing importance in Malawi, a leading African producer. Once a suitable provenance is established in the appropriate agro-ecological zone, it is a resilient and productive crop. However, there is little data-driven evidence on what the most suitable macadamia clones are for particular agro-ecological zones for smallholder farmers in Malawi. It is thus likely potential yields are not being realised. This project will combine social and biophysical survey and field ecological data to inform the choice of suitable macadamia clones for Malawi's agro-ecological zones and uncover production constraints.

Working closely with an established charity Neno Macadamia Trust and its cooperative partner The Highland Macadamia Cooperative Union Limited (HIMACUL) in Malawi, this project will analyse data on tree crop production from member farmers in HIMACUL. This data will be combined with macadamia clone, tree growth and soil characteristics, temperature and rainfall data collected in the field. These datasets will then be correlated with downscaled climate data to extrapolate to future scenarios, thus future-proofing production. The development of a robust and sustainable grower-led monitoring scheme will provide a model that can be rolled out to similar initiatives elsewhere in the region.

You will join a well-established team researching ecology at the School of Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences and will have opportunity for further training in ecological and social science methods across the University. You will also join a vibrant international community of students studying our PhD programme. The Open University (OU) provides excellent support for students and offers a full range of training in research methods, as well as computer, library and presentation skills (see further particulars). This studentship is for full-time research, based at the Milton Keynes campus and the successful candidate will normally be expected to live within commuting distance of Milton Keynes.

Applications, CV and cover letter should be sent to by (midnight) on Sunday 6 January 2019

Interviews are likely to take place the week commencing Monday 14/21 January 2019.

The successful candidate is expected to enrol on the PhD programme in April 2019


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