PLASTICS IN THE ENVIRONMENT: ENHANCING CARBON SEQUESTRATION AND CROP PRODUCTION
Plastics in the environment are high on environmental and political agendas around the world generally in a negative context, but their use in agriculture in the form of plastic mulch films continues to grow and are now integral in the production of many crops worldwide. One of the main problems associated with the use of plastics is their disposal after use. This can be addressed by designing them so that they naturally biodegrade. Biodegradable plastic mulch film is used to accelerate and protect emergent high value and long season crops in-field to improve product yield and quality. However, scarce consideration is currently given to the chemical properties of the plastic beyond its broad biodegradability properties and the benefits it might be able to give to the agricultural environment. For example, given the correct formulation, it could actually benefit soils by providing beneficial carbon which can be sequestered by soil microbes, deliver herbicides and pesticides in slow release fashion, making them more efficient and environmentally friendly, or as a mechanism for delivering nutrients to soils.
This project will explore a unique opportunity to exploit the potential to deliver additional benefits to the crop and environment through the manipulation of the chemical formulation of biodegradable plastic films for the enhancement of soil quality and crop nutrition, which are two of the greatest challenges facing modern day agriculture. Through working with a combination of research expertise at Rothamsted Research and Bristol University, training in advanced laboratory techniques, controlled environment studies and field trials will be provided, meaning the student will acquire a wide range of skills and technical expertise in soil science, but also within other areas of scientific research or non-academic career paths.
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Statement
We want to support diverse and inclusive work environments. We therefore welcome applications from individuals regardless of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, age, gender, or disability status. We welcome applications from individuals who have previously studied at any recognised Higher Education Institute and from a range of career paths (please refer to the SWBio DTP academic criteria for eligibility), including individuals who have previously trained in the sciences and are wanting to return to scientific research.
We particularly encourage applications from BAME* and mature (this is classed as 30+ years) individuals as these backgrounds are currently underrepresented within our student cohort.
UKRI have recently updated their policy for funded studentships which starts from the 2021/2022 academic year.
IMPORTANT: Please refer to the UKRI Full Eligibility Criteria alongside the information provided below.
Fully-funded studentships are available for Home students. 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 requirement) or,
• Have indefinite leave to remain or enter
If you do not meet the above criteria, you will be classed as an International student.
A limited number (up to 30%) of UKRI fully-funded studentships are available through the SWBio DTP, that applicants who would be classed as an International student are eligible for. Please apply through the application route below for funding.
Applicants should have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an appropriate area of science or technology. Applicants with a Lower Second Class degree will be considered if they also have Masters degree or have significant relevant non-academic experience.
In addition, due to the strong mathematical component of the taught course in the first year and the quantitative emphasis in our projects, a minimum of a grade B in A-level Maths or an equivalent qualification or experience is required.
Physics A-level (grade B and above)
Undertaking units as part of your degree that have a significant mathematical component*
*Significant mathematical component examples include; maths, statistics, bioinformatics.
Applicants must ensure they highlight their Maths background within their application and to upload any supporting evidence.
If English is not your first language you will need to have achieved at least 6.5 in IELTS and no less than 6.5 in any section by the start of the project. Alternative tests may be acceptable, please see http://www.bristol.ac.uk/study/language-requirements/profile-c/.
UKRI-BBSRC funded studentship
A fully-funded four year SWBio DTP studentship will cover:
a stipend* (at the standard UKRI rate; £15,609 per annum for 2021-2022)
research and training costs
additional funds to support fieldwork, conferences and a 3-month placement
* An enhanced stipend is available for students with a recognised veterinary degree qualification (£24,090 per annum for 2021-2022). There may also be enhanced stipends associated with projects that have a CASE partner (CASE projects are highlighted as *CASE in the project lists).