Looking for PhD?

The online application submission system for 2021 studentships has closed

We have received a very large number of applications and the selection process has been extended slightly. Please note the updated timings

  • Shortlisted candidates will receive an invitation to interview by 05 March 2021
  • The main interview period will run until 15 March 2021
  • Offers of studentships will be made after Wednesday 31 March 2021.

FoodBioSystems DTP has advertised 52 PhD projects in subject areas that span the entire food value chain. We are looking for students from a broad range of scientific backgrounds to begin their PhDs in autumn 2021.

FoodBioSystems postgraduate researchers undertake training that leads towards a PhD and equips them with extra skills and knowledge to support their future careers. Research projects are co-supervised across two institutes within our academic partnership and students take part in training to gain a core understanding of food systems, data analysis and modelling. They also follow a programme of subject specific learning, depending on their needs. In addition, all DTP students carry out a professional internship (generally not related to the research project).

Academic Eligibility

1st or upper 2nd class degree is required in a subject appropriate to the PhD projects applied for (see the project description for more info). 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: Aberystwyth University, Brunel University, Cranfield University, Queen’s University Belfast, University of Reading, University of Surrey.

Funding Eligibility 

The studentships are predominantly open to students with established UK residency. Although international students (including EU countries) can apply, due to funding rules no more than 30% of the projects can be allocated to international students. The funding will include a tax free stipend and support for tuition fees at the standard UK rate (in 2021/2022 this is a minimum of £15,609 per year and £4500 per year respectively). There will also be a contribution towards research costs.

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.

Fees for International Students funded by FoodBioSystems DTP

All 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 described on the University of Reading’s Graduate School web page. If your qualification is different to those listed, please check the websites below for more information about requirements at the university that will be hosting the PhD Studentship (the university where the project lead supervisor works).
Aberystwyth University
Brunel University
Cranfield University
Queen’s University Belfast
University of Reading
University of Surrey

If the website does not provide the information you are looking for, please contact the relevant university admissions office.

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. Each institution in the DTP partnership has at a minimum Athena SWAN Bronze accreditation. University of Surrey  are members  of  the  Race  Equality  Charter, University of Reading Aberystwyth are in the top 100 Stonewall employers, while Brunel University is a Stonewall member and Queens University Belfast is a Stonewall Diversity Champion. More information about our Equality Diversity and Inclusion Policy is available here.

Application Process

Applications will be by an online application form (CVs will not be accepted). Before you decide to apply, please check the information above on academic and funding eligibility and language proficiency. Please read the following guidance:

  • All applications to FoodBioSystems DTP are made via the University of Reading, whether the projects you are interested in are based at Reading, Surrey, Cranfield, Queen’s, Aberystwyth or Brunel.
  • You will be able to apply to a maximum of TWO PhD projects. Each project description indicates the name and institution of the lead supervisor and has a project ID number. You are welcome and encouraged to email the lead supervisors of projects to ask them any questions you may have or to discuss the project.
  • You will need the following documents to support your application
    • Official transcripts of your higher education qualifications, inclusive of grades
    • Evidence of your proficiency in English, if English is not your first language.
  • You will also be asked to provide the name and email address of someone who will provide a confidential academic reference letter. The DTP office will request the letter from your referee immediately after you submit your application.

Selection Process

  • Your application will be considered in two stages:
    • The application will considered by the PhD project supervisors who will not know your name or contact details until after shortlisting. If your application is shortlisted you will receive an invitation to an interview (by skype, teams or zoom).
    • If your application is shortlisted it will also be assessed by a panel of reviewers from the DTP Selection Panel.
  • Shortlisting and assessment will be 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 skills and experience for undertaking the specific PhD project

    The selection panel will make the final decision on project allocation, taking into account applicants’ performance at interview and reviewer assessments.


    Project No Project Title Lead Supervisor Co Supervisor
    FBS2021-02-Chatzifragkou-rs Edible insects: Systematic investigation of insect-based foods for human nutrition and consumer acceptance Afroditi Chatzifragkou,  University of Reading Ruan Elliott,  University of Surrey
    FBS2021-03-Alamar-cr Creating consistency in avocado ripening MariCarmen Alamar,  Cranfield University Carol Wagstaff,  University of Reading
    FBS2021-04-Mikaberidze-ra Smart control of crop diseases: how can we best combine fungicides and plant resistance genes? Alexey Mikaberidze,  University of Reading Martin Swain,  Aberystwyth University
    FBS2021-06-Anastasiadi-cq Honey authentication using intrinsic DNA markers and metabolic fingerprint Maria Anastasiadi,  Cranfield University Tassos Koidis,  Queen’s University Belfast
    FBS2021-07-Wijeyesekera-ra Investigating the effect of a seaweed-derived common food ingredient (carrageenan) on the human gut microbiome Anisha Wijeyesekera,  University of Reading Jessica Adams,  Aberystwyth University
    FBS2021-08-Gibson-rs A human intervention study using Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMOs) to improve Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms through targeting of the gut microbiota Glenn Gibson,  University of Reading Denise Robertson,  University of Surrey
    FBS2021-10-Cain-cq Minimising negative environmental impacts of beef consumption Michelle Cain,  Cranfield University Katerina Theodoridou,  Queen’s University Belfast
    FBS2021-11-Rymer-rq Controlling feather pecking in laying hens by optimising the use of black soldier fly larvae in hen management Caroline Rymer,  University of Reading Niamh O’Connell,  Queen’s University Belfast
    FBS2021-12-Mills-rs Does a coffee a day keep the doctor away? Investigating the impact of coffee on cardiometabolic health Charlotte Mills,  University of Reading Denise Robertson,  University of Surrey
    FBS2021-15-McEvoy-qr Design and evaluation of a nutritionally adequate diet for healthy ageing in older UK adults: The Healthy Ageing DIet (HADI) Study Claire McEvoy,  Queen’s University Belfast Julie Lovegrove,  University of Reading
    FBS2021-16-McCarthy-bs Improving livestock resilience by understanding the role of the microbiome in viral infection progression and antibiotic resistance Ronan McCarthy,  Brunel University Falko Steinbach,  University of Surrey
    FBS2021-19-Bryant-ar Biorefining Protein from UK Grasslands – Can We Combine Novel Protein with Surplus Bread Crusts to Sustainably Feed Healthier Food to More People? David Bryant,  Aberystwyth University Julia Rodriguez Garcia,  University of Reading
    FBS2021-21-Charalampopoulos-rs Multifunctional microfibrillated cellulosic material (Curran®) for low fat and low sugar reformulated foods Dimitris Charalampopoulos,  University of Reading Terri Grassby,  University of Surrey
    FBS2021-23-Morgan-qr Exploiting plant diversity and phenology for livestock health under climate change Eric Morgan,  Queen’s University Belfast Sokratis Stergiadis,  University of Reading
    FBS2021-24-Kevei-rs Exploring the impact of microplastic-bacterial complexes on animal health and the gut microbiome using a bacteriovorous nematode model Eva Kevei,  University of Reading Jorge Gutierrez-Merino,  University of Surrey
    FBS2021-25-Terry-ca Manipulating oxygen-dependent ethylene signalling in fruit to reduce food loss Leon Terry,  Cranfield University Luis Mur,  Aberystwyth University
    FBS2021-29-Gobert-qa Environmental DNA from Fasciola parasites as a novel biomarker to improve agriculture in the UK Geoffrey Gobert,  Queen’s University Belfast Peter Brophy,  Aberystwyth University
    FBS2021-32-Bishop-ra Addressing the challenge of combined heat and drought stress for cereal production Jacob Bishop,  University of Reading Iain Donnison,  Aberystwyth University
    FBS2021-33-Adams-ac Film of the Future – Producing an antiviral, antimicrobial, biodegradable plastic from seaweed Jessica Adams,  Aberystwyth University Natalia Falagán,  Cranfield University
    FBS2021-34-Ironside-as Investigating an emerging shellfish disease: is Marteilia a threat to cockle health in the UK? Joseph Ironside,  Aberystwyth University Martha Betson,  University of Surrey
    FBS2021-36-Hammond-rc Manipulating nutrient use efficiency to drive yield improvement John Hammond,  University of Reading Andrew Thompson,  Cranfield University
    FBS2021-37-Johnston-cr Optimising UK landscapes for agroecosystem resilience Alice Johnston,  Cranfield University Simon Potts,  University of Reading
    FBS2021-40-Rodriguez-Garcia-rq Fundamental study of the inter-relationships between structure, physicochemical properties and sensory profile of emulsions to evaluate their potential as saturated fat replacers Julia Rodriguez Garcia,  University of Reading Tassos Koidis,  Queen’s University Belfast
    FBS2021-41-Theodoridou-qr Seaweed: A natural approach to improve productivity of dairy cattle and reduce environmental emissions Katerina Theodoridou,  Queen’s University Belfast Sokratis Stergiadis,  University of Reading
    FBS2021-43-Farrar-ac The role of the microbiome and epigenetics in plant resilience Kerrie Farrar,  Aberystwyth University Faisal Rezwan,  Brunel University
    FBS2021-44-Niranjan-rc Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Ensemble approaches to model transient lipid deterioration in particulate food systems Keshavan Niranjan,  University of Reading Konstantinos Salonitis,  Cranfield University
    FBS2021-45-Thompson-cs GWAS analyses of raspberry germplasm to investigate postharvest quality traits Andrew Thompson,  Cranfield University Monique Raasts,  University of Surrey
    FBS2021-47-Kirk-cr Enhanced weathering of silicates in arable and pasture soils to sequester atmospheric CO2 Guy Kirk,  Cranfield University John Hammond,  University of Reading
    FBS2021-49-Kourmpetli-ca Understanding seed longevity in weeds and developing non-destructive testing methods for assessing and monitoring seed quality during storage Sofia Kourmpetli,  Cranfield University John Doonan,  Aberystwyth University
    FBS2021-50-Ahmadi-sq Are genetic risk scores useful in developing precise public health guidelines that aim to reduce the risks of Vitamin B12 deficiency among vegan pregnant women or women of child-bearing age? Kourosh Ahmadi,  University of Surrey Michelle McKinley,  Queen’s University Belfast
    FBS2021-52-Bell-rc Investigating the molecular basis for the relationship between taste, flavour and aphid tolerance in kale Luke Bell,  University of Reading Maria Anastasiadi,  Cranfield University
    FBS2021-53-Magan-ca Post-harvest control and mechanisms of action of fatty acid-based natural compounds for fungal pathogens of pome fruits Naresh Magan,  Cranfield University Gareth Griffith,  Aberystwyth University
    FBS2021-54-Lewis-rs The developing gut microbiota and immune system: Iron and zinc – friend or foe? Marie Lewis,  University of Reading Roberto La Ragione,  University of Surrey
    FBS2021-56-Mooney-qc Multi-omics approach to predict economically important health and production traits in sheep Mark Mooney,  Queen’s University Belfast Faisal Rezwan,  Cranfield University
    FBS2021-57-Bosch-ar Growing in the wind: The impact of mechanical stimulation on wheat Maurice Bosch,  Aberystwyth University Paola Tosi,  University of Reading
    FBS2021-58-Clegg-rq Eating rate, oral processing, gastric emptying and appetite in older adults: Investigations of food intake and food form Miriam Clegg,  University of Reading Gerry McKenna,  Queen’s University Belfast
    FBS2021-60-Vasudevan-rs Development of a novel platform for targeting animal parasites Nandini Vasudevan,  University of Reading Martha Betson,  University of Surrey
    FBS2021-61-Otten-cr Improving herbicide degradation studies: maintaining soil structure, microbial functioning and rhizosphere effects to reflect natural conditions. Wilfred Otten,  Cranfield University Elizabeth Shaw,  University of Reading
    FBS2021-66-Rezwan-cq Utilizing data-driven approaches to develop genetic models in predicting feed efficiency complex in dairy cattle Faisal Rezwan,  Cranfield University Katerina Theodoridou,  Queen’s University Belfast
    FFBS2021-69-Morphew-aq Meta-omics to uncover rumen helminth-microbiome interactions Russ Morphew,  Aberystwyth University Sharon Huws,  Queen’s University Belfast
    FBS2021-70-Sakrabani-ca Evaluating efficacy of novel green fertilisers using carbon capture technology to improve soil health and grain quality Ruben Sakrabani,  Cranfield University Iain Donnison,  Aberystwyth University
    FBS2021-71-Tassou-br Low carbon Food Processing with Solid State Microwave Technologies Savvas Tassou,  Brunel University Maria Jose Oruna-Concha,  University of Reading
    FBS2021-72-Arnott-qr Nutritional programming in replacement dairy heifers: Future-proofing herd performance, health and behaviour Gareth Arnott,  Queen’s University Belfast Sokratis Stergiadis,  University of Reading
    FBS2021-74-Huws-qa Manipulation of the ruminant gastrointestinal tract microbiomes for reduced environmental impact of nitrogen excretion from dairy cows Sharon Huws,  Queen’s University Belfast Jon Moorby,  Aberystwyth University
    FBS2021-79-Stergiadis-rq Consumption of milk and plant-based alternatives: implications to human nutrition and environmental sustainability Sokratis Stergiadis,  University of Reading Adrian Williams,  Queen’s University Belfast
    FBS2021-81-Lanham-New-sr Elucidating the link between vitamin D and immune health in ethnic groups:  mechanistic & population-based studies Susan Lanham-New,  University of Surrey Ian Given,  University of Reading
    FBS2021-83-Chen-sa : Digital Design and Scale-up of Bioprocesses for Cultured Meat Production Tao Chen,  University of Surrey Ruth Wonfor,  Aberystwyth University
    FBS2021-85-Grassby-sr Understanding the structure and function of resistant starch in glycaemia Terri Grassby,  University of Surrey Jane Parker,  University of Reading
    FBS2021-88-Schmidt-Rivera-br Society’s Sustainable Sandwich – increasing circularity and sustainability with robust metrics Ximena Schmidt Rivera,  Brunel University Dimitris Charalampopoulos,  University of Reading
    FBS2021-91-Kliem-rs Bioaccessibility of lipids from dairy products: the cheese matrix Kirsty Kliem,  University of Reading Barbara Fielding,  University of Surrey
    FBS2021-93-Draper-ar Integration of food intake biomarker data with minimal self-reported dietary information to assess eating behaviour and evaluate nutrient intake in individuals and populations. John Draper,  Aberystwyth University Julie Lovegrove,  University of Reading
    FBS2021-95-Rose-rc Responsible innovation of autonomous robots in agriculture: towards more substantive inclusion and user-centred design David Rose,  University of Reading Sarah Fletcher,  Cranfield University