Doctoral Training Partnerships(DTPs)

NERC - the Natural Environment Research Council

NERC is the leading funder of independent research, training and innovation in environmental science in the UK. Doctoral training partnerships (DTPs) provide excellent postgraduate research opportunities within the NERC science remit as well as varied professional and technical skills and personal development training.

DTP postgraduate training is delivered in collaboration with partners from a wide range of backgrounds including industry, specialist research organisations, charities, NGOs, government bodies and many more to ensure NERC DTP students are equipped with the skills and experiences to allow them to become world-leaders in their chosen careers.

DTPs are held by higher education institutions either alone or as a consortium with other eligible research organisations and partners. NERC doctoral training partnerships host NERC-funded, and potentially other, PhD students undertaking research in any area of the NERC science remit and will receive funding to support five cohorts of NERC-funded studentship starts between 2014 and 2018.

Bangor University is part of a NERC Doctoral Training Partnership with Lancaster and Nottingham Universities. Please visit NERC website here for more information.

Envision brings together a powerful group of UK researchers with 44 industry and NGO partners to provide a new generation of environmental scientists with the skills, knowledge and experience they need to take on the challenges of a changing world.

Funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Lancaster University is leading the initiative which brings together the Universities of Nottingham and Bangor, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, the British Geological Survey and Rothamsted Research. The initiative also involves large multinationals, a large number of SMEs and international research centres.

The Envision online submission application form for 2016/17 projects is now live for students to submit their applications.

Students complete an application form (available for download from the website - and upload it along with their CV. They are only able to apply for one Envision project in this round. Only open to UK/EU residents. 

Available Bangor University Projects

Developing environmentally sustainable forestry value chains

Developing environmentally sustainable forestry value chains

Forests play a key role in climate regulation, water purification and biodiversity conservation, whilst providing renewable wood-based resources critical for the circular economy. Forest cover in the UK is one third of the European average, and possible post-Brexit reform of agricultural subsidies could create substantial impetus for forestry expansion. There remains an incomplete evidence base on the wider environmental consequences of such expansion in relation to methods of woodland establishment and management. There is also a need to more accurately account for carbon sequestration in harvested wood products, and to calculate environmental “credits” attributable to substitution of wood for high-impact products such as concrete and fossil fuels. These effects will arise over an extended time period for advanced value chains involving cascading uses of the primary wood feedstock, e.g. starting with construction and culminating in fuel use ­as wood pellets or bioethanol. This exciting studentship will develop state-of-the-art of life cycle assessment (LCA) models to integrate ecological data on forestry land management with techno-economic data on product processing and product substitution to answer the following questions:

  • What are the environmental consequences of woodland establishment on marginal land, with particular emphasis on greenhouse gas fluxes, carbon sequestration, nutrient losses and biodiversity?

  • How do environmental footprints of innovative wood-derived products compare with substituted conventional products?

In addressing these questions, the project will make a significant contribution to the ongoing scientific debate about “land sparing”, by quantifying life cycle GHG mitigation potential and possible environmental co-benefit of forestry expansion on land “spared” from agriculture.

The position will suit an enthusiastic and numerically literate PhD candidate willing to adapt advanced LCA modelling techniques to the forestry sector. The successful applicant will develop skills in data mining and LCA modelling. An industrial placement with Woodknowledge Wales will provide in-depth knowledge of innovative forestry value chains.

Applicants should hold a minimum of an Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in a science or engineering subject. Knowledge of woodland management, greenhouse gas accounting and/or life cycle assessment would be advantageous. Applicants should be willing to engage with a network of forestry stakeholders.

For further details, please contact Dr David Styles, or Professor John Healey,


Exploring the ecology of airborne pollen biodiversity using environmental DNA analysis and identifying links to hay fever

Misc pollen colorized


In addition to providing benefits to society, biodiversity also brings costs. The aerial biosphere includes ecologically complex mixtures of pollens that negatively affect human health. Almost a quarter of people display allergic reactions to tree and grass pollen, causing symptoms ranging from hay fever to asthma, with associated socio-economic costs. Identifying tree pollens can be achieved using microscopy, but the process is challenging. Nevertheless, since most grass pollens look the same, we need to devise novel ways to identify different species to understand which species of grass contribute to allergies. This studentship has three components. The first aims to use an environmental DNA (eDNA) approach to enhance the way that we assess aerial tree pollen mixtures. Secondly, to use modelling approaches to compare and contrast the aerial transit of tree and grass pollens in relation to biology/ecology and finally, to identify which species of grass pollen are linked with hay fever. The PhD will form a distinct component within a larger NERC funded study “PollerGEN” ( and provide an opportunity to work with an interdisciplinary team of scientists from a range of UK Universities, the UK Met Office and the Industrial CASE Partner, National Botanic Garden of Wales (NBGW – home of the Wales Plant DNA Barcode library). Hosted at the vibrant Molecular Ecology and Fisheries Genetics Laboratory in Bangor ( and NBGW, training will be provided in the main areas of molecular ecology/eDNA/metabarcoding, genomics, taxonomy, bioinformatics, modelling, multidisciplinarity skills, science communication and environmental epidemiology. Field work will occur within the UK, with opportunities for travel/collaborations in Europe and Australia. The successful candidate will become a highly skilled, interdisciplinary graduate working at the interface between molecular ecology and environmental epidemiology with the potential to make substantial advances to our understanding of the interaction between the UK flora and the allergic response.

Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in subjects such as Biology, Environmental or Natural Sciences and applicants with first class degrees and/or high quality Masters qualifications are particularly encouraged to apply.

If you are interested in applying, we would strongly recommend contacting Prof. Simon Creer in the first instance (; Twitter @spideycreer) and he will be on hand to assist with any questions related to the project, information on the application process and life in the group.


STARS- Soils Training and Research Studentships

Influence of historical management and soil moisture on N2O emissions from grasslands

Supervisor: Laura Cardenas
Registered: Bangor University
Based: Rothamsted Research

Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a powerful greenhouse gas and the dominant ozone-depleting substance in the stratosphere. It is predominantly produced by microbial activity, 45% of which is from agriculture (Syakila, 2011). Microbial activity is influenced by soil moisture, nutrient status and many other physico-chemical processes. It has been observed that soil conditions prior to fertiliser application can impact microbial activity particularly soil moisture and nutrient status. The latter is affected by the historical management of soil, particularly cultivation, application of inorganic vs organic fertiliser and crop characteristics.

Current knowledge of emissions and their controlling factors rely on conditions occurring simultaneously with the emissions or as a result of recent events. We propose that historical soil moisture (weeks-months) and management (years-decades) influence microbial response to fertiliser application.

This project will investigate the effect of pre-soil moisture and historical nitrogen management on N2O emissions and the product of its reduction, N2, for contrasting soil types under different environmental conditions and how this correlates to denitrifier microbial activity and gene expression. The ultimate goal is to understand the processes by which N2O emission can be reduced and influencing agricultural practices to this end.

This project is part of the STARS CDT and it benefits from CASE funding.

Eligibility: Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in subjects such as Environmental Science, Natural Sciences, biology or chemistry. Experience in the laboratory are desired. Only open to UK/EU residents. 

For further details please contact Dr Laura Cardenas,

Saving our lowland peatlands: Smart soil sensor technologies for promoting sustainability and growth in UK horticulture.

Supervisor: Davey Jones
Registered: Bangor University

The IPCC estimate that peatland degradation accounts for 3% of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Cultivated peatlands are incredibly productive but also represent the UK’s largest source of emissions from the land-use sector. In a recent House of Commons report, carbon loss from these peatlands was identified as a major threat to the UK, with long-term consequences for food security, climate change and flood risk. The current rate of soil loss is 1-2 cm per year which is clearly unsustainable. Through a combination of laboratory and fieldwork, this PhD will focus on finding new ways to help save UK peatlands. The studentship is directly linked to industry through a collaboration with G’s Fresh who are the UK leaders in salad vegetable production on peat soils. This will ensure that the PhD makes a difference as well as providing the student with an unparalleled opportunity to gain real-world experience and training.

This project is part of the STARS CDT and benefits from CASE funding.   


Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level (or equivalent Masters) in environmental, biological, microbiological, physical sciences etc.

Only open to UK/EU residents. 

For further details on this STARS studentship please contact Prof. Davey Jones (

Reducing the risk of viral contamination of the UK’s food and water supply

Supervisor: James McDonald
Registered: Bangor University

Purifying drinking water and wastewater is essential for maintaining human health and a clean environment. With the emergence of new diseases and an increasing global population, one of the biggest challenges society faces is how to safely remove pathogenic viruses from water. In addition, we need to understand how different viruses behave and flow through the environment. Using the latest scientific approaches (e.g. molecular virus detection and metaviromics), this PhD aims to: (1) determine the flow, fate and decay of viruses in the soil-water environment, and (2) determine how viruses can be effectively removed from water. Part of the PhD includes an overseas placement in North America. The studentship is directly linked to industry through a collaboration with Welsh Water. This will ensure that the PhD makes a real difference as well as providing the student with an unparalleled opportunity to gain real-world experience and training.

This project is part of the STARS CDT and benefits from CASE funding.


Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level (or equivalent Masters) in environmental, biological, microbiological, physical sciences etc.

Only open to UK/EU residents. 

For further details on this STARS studentship please contact Dr James McDonald (

On the pee! A mechanistic exploration of nitrogen and carbon cycling dynamics in the urine patch.

On The Pee

Supervisor: Dave Chadwick
Registered: Bangor University

Urine patches represent unique ecological environments where extreme nutrient and water loading occur. The nitrogen loadings in an individual urine patch can represent the equivalent loading of up to 1000 kg N  ha-1, so urine patches are well known for being hot-spots of gaseous losses of ammonia, the potent greenhouse gas – nitrous oxide, di-nitrogen, and nitrate leaching. Little is known about the factors that control nitrogen and carbon cycling throughout the urine patch over time, and hence subsequent nitrogen and carbon losses. This project will map key nitrogen and carbon processes (nitrification, dentrification, mineralisation, immobilisation, respiration) in different zones of the urine patch through time, relating cycling rates with soil physical, chemical and biological factors. The project will use state-of-the-art technologies (stable isotopes of nitrogen and carbon, N2O isotopomers, O2 and pH sensitive optodes, and gene sequence analysis for the cascade of microbial nitrogen and carbon enzymes), to test hypotheses that soil type, urine composition, and topography affect the dynamics of nitrogen and carbon cycling throughout the urine patch. You will be based at Bangor University, but have the opportunity to collaborate with researchers at Rothamsted Research (North Wyke) and the Institute of Bio- and Geosciences, Jülich (Germany), as well as spend time within Welsh Government and/or Defra.

This project benefits from CASE funding from the Welsh Government.

Eligibility: Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in subjects such as Environmental Science, Biological Science, Microbiology, Geography or Natural Sciences. A strong grasp of mathematics and experience of laboratory and field practical work would be advantageous. Only open to UK/EU residents. 
For further details please contact Prof Dave Chadwick:

Available projects are advertised here: (The deadline for applications is 2nd July 2017).