PhD Opportunities

Applications are now closed for studentships starting in autumn 2023. We will be awarding a maximum of 28 funded studentships through a competitive process.

How we select our students

  • Applications submitted before the closing date and time (30 January 2023, 10.00 am GMT) will be considered in two stages:
    • All applications will be checked to ensure they are complete and meet minimum academic eligibility criteria
    • Eligible applications will then be considered by the PhD project supervisors who will not know your name, contact details or degree awarding university until after shortlisting.
    • If your application is shortlisted you will receive an invitation to an interview (by skype, teams or zoom). As part of the interview you will be asked to give a short research presentation (maximum 5 minutes) followed by 5 minutes for questions about the presentation. 
    • If you are selected for an interview, a panel of reviewers from the DTP Selection Committee will also assess the answers you give in the application form.  They will not know your name, contact details or degree awarding university at this stage.
  • Shortlisting and selection panel assessment is based on the information you provide about:
      • your academic qualifications
      • research relevant skills/experience (e.g. data management, data analysis, ability to extract key information from literature, strong writing and presentation skills)
      • the transferable skills important to a PhD student (e.g. organisational, team, communication and problem-solving)
      • your understanding of the UK Agri-Food Sector
      • suitability of your academic background, skills and experience for undertaking the specific PhD project

    The DTP office will request the letter from your referee if you are shortlisted for interview. The selection panel will make the final decision on project allocation, taking into account applicants’ performance at interview and reviewer assessments.

Timetable for recruitment

Activity Date/Deadline
Online application form opens 16 December 2022
Closing date for student applications Monday 30 January 2023 (10.00 am GMT)
Student interview window 2 -16 March 2023
Award/rejection letters sent to shortlisted candidates 31 March – 3 April 2023

Being a FoodBioSystems DTP funded student

As a FoodBioSystems postgraduate researcher student you will undertake training that leads towards a PhD and equips you with extra skills and knowledge to support your future career. Your research project will be co-supervised across two institutes within our academic partnership and you will take part in our training programme to gain a core understanding of food systems, data analysis and modelling. You will also follow a programme of subject specific learning, depending on your needs. In addition, you will carry out a professional internship (generally not related to the research project).

You will receive a tax free stipend (salary) for four years so that you can benefit from the DTP training programme in addition to completing your research and submitting your thesis within 4 years registration period.  For 2022/23 this is £17,668 (or £19, 668 for a studentship based at Brunel University). The pay increases slightly each year at rate set by UKRI.

Please also explore our website to find our more about the DTP training programme, current projects at the 6 partner universities and meet some of our researchers to check out what they have said about their research and training experiences so far.

Projects

Our projects are in research areas that span the entire food value chain and we are looking for applicants from a wide range of scientific backgrounds including: agricultural sciences, animal health, artificial intelligence, biochemistry,  bioinformatics, biological science, data science, food engineering, food science,  geography, machine learning, nutrition, plant science, soil science and veterinary sciences.
Potential projects for autumn 2023 are listed below. They are grouped by research areas (stated in the left hand column). Selecting a project title will take you to an advert with more details of the project.

Research area Project number Project title Lead Supervisor / University Co-Supervisor / University
Animal health and livestock agricultural systems FBS2023-63-Wonfor-aq Ruminating over host-parasite interaction models for fluke driven immune responses. Ruth Wonfor, Aberystwyth University Mark Robinson, Queen’s University Belfast
Data-intensive bioscience /Animal health and livestock agricultural systems FBS2023-37-McLaughlin-qs Automated monitoring of health and welfare in groups of pigs using evidential reasoning and video-analytics Niall McLaughlin, Queen’s University Belfast Alasdair Cook, University of Surrey
Data-intensive bioscience / Animal health and livestock agricultural systems FBS2023-42-Mooney-qa Application of machine learning to genomic selection of dairy cattle through improved feed efficiency complex prediction Mark Mooney, Queen’s University Belfast Faisal Rezwan, Aberystwyth University
Data-intensive bioscience / Animal health and livestock agricultural systems FBS2023-48-Rinaldi-aq Comparative and functional genomics to unveil liver fluke sexual development. Gabriel Rinaldi, Aberystwyth University  Aaron Maule, Queen’s University Belfast
Data-intensive bioscience / Food science FBS2023-51-Rodriguez Garcia-rq A reverse engineering approach to sucrose replacement in biscuits: modelling texture  Julia Rodriguez Garcia, University of Reading Gareth Tribello, Queen’s University Belfast
Data-intensive bioscience / Food security FBS2023-19-Garratt-rc Applying AI and Deep-Learning approaches to support sustainable crop production through optimised crop pollination Michael Garratt, University of Reading  Maria Anastasiadi, Cranfield University
Data-intensive bioscience / Plant & crop systems FBS2023-58-Swain-aq New software to detect horizontal gene transfer in microbiomes: from forage to the rumen Martin Swain, Aberystwyth University Chris Creevey, Queen’s University Belfast
Data-intensive bioscience / Plant & crop systems FBS2023-34-Lloyd-ac Walk on the Wild Side: improving trait introgression from crop wild relatives Andrew Lloyd, Aberystwyth University Fady Mohareb, Cranfield University
Data-intensive bioscience / Plant & crop systems FBS2023-39-Mikaberidze-rc How to improve measurement of major wheat diseases using artificial intelligence?  Alexey Mikaberidze, University of Reading Ronald Corstanje, Cranfield University
Data-intensive bioscience / Soil systems FBS2023-43-Otten-cr Breaking new ground: using X-rays to study how roots penetrate through soil parent materials Wilfred Otten, Cranfield University  Tom Sizmur, University of Reading
Decarbonising food systems / Animal health and livestock agricultural systems FBS2023-59-Theodoridou-qr Insects for sustainable animal feed: Livestock farming in a climate change challenged world Katerina Theodoridou, Queen’s University Belfast Sokratis Stergiadis, University of Reading
Decarbonising food systems / Animal health and livestock agricultural systems FBS2023-50-Robinson-qa Helminth extracellular vesicles – the key to reducing methane emissions from farmed livestock? Mark Robinson, Queen’s University Belfast Russ Morphew, Aberystwyth University
Decarbonising food systems / Food safety FBS2023-28-Khalil Ghawi-rb High moisture extrusion technology assisted by enzymatic protein-protein crosslinking approach to improve the texture quality of plant-based meat analogues and eliminate the need for additives Sameer Khalil Ghawi, University of Reading George Fern, Brunel University
Decarbonising food systems / Plant & crop systems FBS2023-52-Sakrabani-cq Evaluating suitability of graphitic carbon from methane cracking to improve soil nutrient retention for crop uptake Ruben Sakrabani, Cranfield University Deepak Kumaresan, Queen’s University Belfast
Decarbonising food systems / Plant & crop systems FBS2023-09-Chadwick-ra Editing out insecticide use: Use of gene editing Eruca sativa for more effective biofumigation Martin Chadwick, University of Reading Huw Jones, Aberystwyth University
Decarbonising food systems FBS2023-47-Rickson-ca Developing drought resistance and building soil carbon through optimising root traits in oats Jane Rickson, Cranfield University Irene Griffiths, Aberystwyth University
Decarbonising food systems Soil systems FBS2023-07-Bishop-rc Measuring the impacts of silicon on legume-pest and -rhizobia interactions Jake Bishop, University of Reading  Mark Pawlett, Cranfield University
Decarbonising food systems /Soil systems FBS2023-18-Girkin-cr The impacts of regenerative farming on soil carbon, structure and biodiversity across spatio-temporal scales Nick Girkin, Cranfield University Liz Shaw, University of Reading
Decarbonising food systems / Soil systems FBS2023-22-Hannam-cr Accelerating the transition to regenerative farming for high carbon organic soils  Jacqueline Hannam, Cranfield University Tom Sizmur, University of Reading
Food safety & food authenticity FBS2023-03-Anastasiadi-cq Food Authenticity: Targeted and untargeted DNA barcoding approaches for traceability of cross-contamination and adulteration in animal and plant-based foods Maria Anastasiadi, Cranfield University Katrina Campbell, Queen’s University Belfast
Food safety & food authenticity FBS2023-02-Al Sid Cheikh-sr Microplastics in milk and dairy products: the future of milk in the Plastic Age Maya Al Sid Cheikh, University of Surrey Kirsty Kliem, University of Reading
Food safety & food authenticity FBS2023-08-Campbell-qr Developing next-generation portable rapid tests for food authenticity Katrina Campbell, Queen’s University Belfast Alexander Edwards, University of Reading
Food security & inclusive positive nutrition / Gut Microbiota FBS2023-33-Lewis-rs Can probiotics and prebiotics reduce the impact of high protein diets on gut barrier function by modulating the microbiota in sex-dependent manners? Marie Lewis, University of Reading Denise Robertson , University of Surrey
Food security & inclusive positive nutrition / Human Nutrition FBS2023-49-Robertson-sr Increased protein requirements across the life-course; are there implications for the microbiota and gut barrier function ? Denise Robertson, University of Surrey Marie Lewis, University of Reading
Food security & / Animal health FBS2023-10-Chalmers-aq What is the diagnostic potential and function of Ly6 proteins in liver fluke? Iain Chalmers, Aberystwyth University Aaron Maule, Queen’s University Belfast
Food safety / Animal health and livestock agricultural systems FBS2023-04-Anguilano-bq Enhancing seaweed aquaculture for alternative animal feeds Lorna Anguilano, Brunel University Pamela Walsh, Queen’s University Belfast
Food safety / Decarbonising food systems FBS2023-11-Charalampopoulos-rc Novel, biodegradable, active packaging: Natural polymers, nanoparticles and extrusion process development Dimitris Charalampopoulos, University of Reading Natalia Falagan, Cranfield University
Food safety & food authenticity FBS2023-44-Parker-sr Nanoplastics in the food chain: from food, to cells, to function Matthew Parker, University of Surrey Mark Dallas, University of Reading
Food security FBS2023-15-Falagan-ca Mango waste reduction: a study of physical, physiological and biochemical factors affecting postharvest storage potential Natalia Falagan, Cranfield University Ana Winters , Aberystwyth University
Food security / Gut microbiota FBS2023-29-Kingston-Smith-aq Feed for Net Zero: Understanding the structure function relationships in forages driving rumen feed degradation Alison Kingston-Smith, Aberystwyth University Chris Creevey , Queen’s University Belfast
Food security / human nutrition FBS2023-01-Adams-ab SALTernatives from seaweed: salt reduction of foods by using seaweed extracts to deliver umami flavour Jessica Adams, Aberystwyth University Ximena Schmidt, Brunel University
Food security / human nutrition FBS2023-12-Collins-sr Efficacy, application and consumer acceptance of plant-based proteins for metabolic health Adam Collins, University of Surrey Daniele Asioli, University of Reading
Food security / human nutrition FBS2023-20-Grassby-sr Lupin-enhanced wheat products for nutritional and sustainability benefits Terri Grassby, University of Surrey Julia Rodriguez Garcia, University of Reading
Food security / human nutrition FBS2023-35-Manders-sa Insects as a novel source of dietary protein: Does it have legs?  Ralph Manders, University of Surrey Rhys Thatcher, Aberystwyth University
Food security / human nutrition FBS2023-40-Mills-sq Nutritionally enhanced algal protein ingredients for food Clare Mills, University of Surrey Melanie Bailey, Queen’s University Belfast
Food security / human nutrition FBS2023-55-Spencer-rs Understanding the mechanism of cardiovascular disease reduction and cognitive enhancement by dietary flavanols: the impact of flavanols on blood rheology and erythrocyte deformability Jeremy Spencer, University of Reading Christian Heiss, University of Surrey
Food security / Plant & Crop Systems FBS2023-14-Doonan-aq GrainQuest – using Artifical Intelligence and high resolution multimodal imaging to dissect the developmental and genetic basis of seed composition John Doonan, Aberystwyth University Simon Cameron, Queen’s University Belfast
Food security / Plant & Crop Systems FBS2023-66-Kirk-cr Carbon sequestration in agricultural soils through silicate weathering Guy Kirk, Cranfield University John Hammond, University of Reading
Food security / Plant & Crop Systems FBS2023-21-Hammond-rc Unravelling the phosphate fertisphere and its interactions with soils and roots John Hammond, University of Reading Guy Kirk, Cranfield University
Food security / Plant & Crop systems FBS2023-45-Phillips-ar Unpicking the causes of infertility in wheat triggered by temperature stress Dylan Phillips, Aberystwyth University Jake Bishop, University of Reading
Food security  / Plant & crop systems FBS2023-26-Ironside-aq Seaweed from seawalls: developing an innovative, environmentally friendly approach to vertical seaweed farming in the intertidal zone Joseph Ironside, Aberystwyth University Pamela Walsh, Queen’s University Belfast
Food security  / Plant & crop systems FBS2023-27-Kevei-ca Plant pathogen control with engineered cysteine rich antimicrobial peptides Zoltan Kevei, Cranfield University Gareth Griffith, Aberystwyth University
Gut Microbiota / animal health and livestock agricultural systems FBS2023-23-Hart-aq Meta-omics of the rumen through RNA interaction networks Elizabeth Hart, Aberystwyth University Paul McVeigh, Queen’s University Belfast
Human nutrition FBS2023-25-Hunt-sr Anthocyanins, Microbiome and Healthy Aging  Julie Hunt, University of Surrey  Glenn Gibson, University of Reading
Human nutrition FBS2023-32-Lanham-New-sr Interaction between Iron Status and Vitamin D Health in Ethnic Groups – Implications for Immune Function Susan Lanham-New, University of Surrey Julie Lovegrove, University of Reading
Human nutrition FBS2023-65-Elliott-sr Beyond bone health: a multidisciplinary approach to define the functional effects of vitamin D on genomic stability Ruan Elliott, University of Surrey Marcus Tindall, University of Reading
Human nutrition/ Gut Microbiota FBS2023-62-Wijeyesekera-ra Precision Nutrition for Gut Health: Development of a novel seaweed-containing, gut microbiota targeted nutraceutical Anisha Wijeyesekera, University of Reading Jessica Adams, Aberystwyth University
Microbial food safety / animal health FBS2023-36-McCarthy-bq Repurposing artificial sweeteners as infection and contamination control agents. Ronan McCarthy, Brunel University Brendan Gilmore, Queen’s University Belfast
Microbial food safety / plant & crop systems FBS2023-61-Verheecke-Vaessen-cq Development of novel tests to evaluate the food safety risk associated with mycotoxigenic fungi in wheat Carol Verheecke-Vaessen, Cranfield University Katrina Campbell , Queen’s University Belfast
Microbial food safety / animal health FBS2023-13-Deza-Cruz-sr New tools for Rapid Field Detection of clinical biomarkers in poultry Inaki Deza-Cruz, University of Surrey Alexander Edwards, University of Reading

Before you decide to apply, please read the following important information

Equality Diversity and Inclusion

The FoodBioSystems DTP is committed to equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), to building a doctoral researcher (DR) and staff body that reflects the diversity of society, and to encourage applications from under-represented and disadvantaged groups. Our actions to promote Diversity and Inclusion are detailed here. We offer a guaranteed interview scheme and an applicant mentoring scheme to students who hold UK fees status and who meet our eligibility criteria.

Our studentships are offered on a part time basis in addition to full time registration. The minimum registration is 50% FT and the studentship end date will be extended to reflect the part-time registration. We recommend that if part-time studentships are combined with paid employment, the combined time commitment does not exceed 48 hours per week.

About the application process

Academic Eligibility

An upper 2nd class degree (or equivalent) is required in a subject appropriate to the PhD projects applied for (see the project description for more information). Candidates with a lower class of Bachelors degree, but a good performance at the Masters level (“merit” or above) will also be considered. If you have an international qualification, please check the degree course eligibility  information provided by the host universities before you apply to the DTP: Aberystswyth UniversityBrunel University, Cranfield University, Queen’s University Belfast, University of Reading, University of Surrey.

Funding Eligibility 

Funding is predominantly available to students with UK/home fees status. Although we can award a few studentships to international students each year (up to 30% of the cohort). To be classed as a home student, candidates must meet the following criteria:
• be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or
• have settled status, or
• have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
• have indefinite leave to remain or enter

For further information about eligibility for UK home fees status please see:
For studentships in England (Brunel, Cranfield, Reading, Surrey): https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/eligibility-for-home-fee-status-and-student-support-in-england/
For studentships in Belfast: https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/eligibility-for-home-fee-status-and-student-support-in-northern-ireland/
For studentships at Aberystwyth: https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/eligibility-for-home-fee-status-and-student-support-in-wales/

Funding for PhD studentships from BBSRC is only available to successful candidates who meet the eligibility criteria set out in the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) harmonized training terms and conditions which you can find here. Offers of studentships to successful candidates will be conditional on acceptance onto PhD programmes as home fees students at the host universities.

Fees for International Students funded by FoodBioSystems DTP

We anticipate that DTP partner universities will be covering the difference in the UK/Republic of Ireland fees and international fees for international UKRI funded students: Aberystwyth University, Brunel University, Cranfield University, Queen’s University Belfast, University of Reading and University of Surrey. For further information on this, please refer to the individual university websites.

Language Proficiency

Candidates must show the necessary levels of English proficiency required by the university that will be hosting the PhD Studentship (the university where the project lead supervisor works). If you have completed a degree or higher degree in a course that was taught in English this may be sufficient evidence of your language proficiency. Please check the relevant university website for further details. If the website does not provide the information you are looking for, please contact the relevant university admissions office.
Aberystwyth University
Brunel University
Cranfield University
Queen’s University Belfast
University of Reading
University of Surrey