We live in a time where the environment has never seemed so important. The changes to the world’s climate of things that affect us all – but much more needs to be done before we fully understand all of the implications.
This week saw something of a milestone announcement from the UK government when it announced investment of £100 million in 15 Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs). All of these would focus on the training of environmental science Ph.D. students. The money would be managed by the Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC) and the target will be to have 214 new students begin training every year for five years.
The Science and Universities Minister, David Willetts, described it as a “significant investment” which highlighted “the government’s commitment to supporting postgraduate training and research in environmental sciences. We are dedicated to providing the next generation of environmental researchers with the necessary skills and training to succeed in academia and industry.”
Prof Duncan Wingham, chief executive of the NERC, pointed out that if UK environmental sciences were going to continue to prosper, “we need to make sure we get the best of our students. These DTPs position us to compete in an increasingly competitive global environment by training students in the best possible way to use environmental sciences to help meet the challenges and opportunities facing us today.”
One of the universities to benefit from the new program will be Glasgow which, together with six partners, will host one of the DTPs. The partnership is called IAPETUS (named after the ancient ocean that close to bring together northern England and Scotland) has been awarded £5 million to fund 60 or more scholarships. The students will undertake research addressing some of the most critical questions and challenging facing the world today.
The Glasgow-led partnership will be led by Prof Susan Waldron who said the university and the others in the team were committed to “recruiting and supporting the very best postgraduate students”. She added that they were expected to produce ground-breaking science and make a real impact in their future careers as leading environmental scientists. Working with industry policymakers and other external stakeholders is a vital part of the ‘Business of the Environment’.”
The other partners include the universities of Durham, Newcastle, St Andrews and Stirling along with the British Geological Survey and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. Prof Andrew Tyler, head of Biological and Environmental Sciences at Stirling, said the award recognised and supported excellence in postgraduate research within each of the consortium universities. “The award enables the consortium to work more effectively together,” he added, “providing new and relevant collaborative postgraduate research opportunities that address the key environmental challenges facing society today, whilst also training our future leaders in science.”