The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) is investing over £100 million over the next five years as part of its continued support of environmental science PhD training in the second round of the Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTP) programme.

The PhD training centres, known as DTPs, underpin the UK’s world-leading profile within the environmental science community and bring together universities, research organisations and partners from a wide range of backgrounds, including higher education institutes, charities, NGOs, government bodies and industry leaders.

Cranfield University is part of the CENTA2 (Central England NERC Training Alliance 2) DTP, being led by the University of Birmingham. Together with Cranfield University, the alliance includes the University of Leicester, University of Warwick, Loughborough University, The Open University, the British Geological Survey, National Centre of Earth Observation, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and the National Centre for Atmospheric Science. 

CENTA2 will train the scientists of tomorrow by providing scientific, professional and technical skills that will increase the UK’s scientific capability to solve environmental problems. Together the partners will train the highly-skilled workforce that the UK needs for its future as a leader in cutting-edge research, innovation, and sustainable economic growth.

The PhD studentships will be available over the course of five annual admissions, starting in the 2019/20 academic year. CENTA2 will recruit a number of students every year, which will create a cohort of students who will network, train, and tackle challenges together. 

Professor Tim Wheeler, Director of Research and Innovation at NERC, said “This investment will provide a bedrock for the environmental science community, fostering the next generation of highly skilled professionals that bring together specialist knowledge from academia, industry and beyond.”

Sam Gyimah, Minister for Science and Innovation, said: “The UK is alive with ambitious young minds that have the potential to shape the science and research landscape, stretching existing boundaries of knowledge and conquering the challenges of tomorrow.

“Making the most of the UK’s world-leading reputation in science and innovation is at the core of our modern Industrial Strategy, and it is today’s young people that will fulfil this ambition to create a Britain fit for the future.”

Dr Stephen Hallett, Associate Professor in Environmental Informatics from Cranfield University, said: “We are delighted to be working alongside our partners to create the next generation of scientific leaders in environmental science. CENTA2 will provide students with a world-leading research environment where they can develop and harness their skills. Skills that are vital for the UK to maintain its position as a leader in environmental science.”


Notes for editors

NERC is the UK's main agency for funding and managing research, training and knowledge exchange in the environmental sciences. Our work covers the full range of atmospheric, Earth, biological, terrestrial and aquatic science, from the deep oceans to the upper atmosphere and from the poles to the equator. We coordinate some of the world's most exciting research projects, tackling major issues such as climate change, environmental influences on human health, the genetic make-up of life on Earth, and much more. NERC is part of UK Research & Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.

About Cranfield University

Cranfield is a specialist postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.

Environment and Agrifood at Cranfield

For the past 50 years, Cranfield has been contributing to enhancing natural capital and ensuring that global food systems are more resilient for the future. We are recognised worldwide by industry, government and academe for our research and teaching in plants, soil, water and air.

We believe that environmental problems can be alleviated through technological innovation and risk management.

Cranfield is a key partner in two of the four UK Government-sponsored Agri-tech Centres – Agri-Epi (Agricultural Engineering Precision Innovation Centre) and CHaP (Crop Health and Protection), with over £10 million invested in new infrastructure since 2017.

Our education, research and consultancy is enhanced by our world-class facilities including the National Reference Centre for Soils, which houses the largest collection of its kind in Europe and is recognised as the UK’s definitive source of national soils information, and our big data visualisation suite, which has tools to analyse big data collections including environmental resources from 280 countries/territories worldwide.

In 2017, Cranfield was awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for research and education in large-scale soil and environmental data for the sustainable use of natural resources in the UK and worldwide, the first time in the Prize’s history that an award has been given for soil science.