Fully-funded PhDs with NIAB and the UKFS-CDT

29 Aug 2023
Bumblebee on strawberry plant at NIAB
Apply by 18th September to join the next cohort of the UK Food Systems Centre for Doctoral Training (UKFS-CDT) programme.

The programme provides a unique opportunity for transformative and interdisciplinary food systems research, and there are two studentships now available with NIAB at East Malling.

The UKFS-CDT brings together the NRI of the University of Greenwich (lead institution), UCL, Royal Veterinary College, IBERS at Aberystwyth University, Centre for Food Policy at City University, University of Sussex, and Brunel University London; and two leading agricultural research institutes, NIAB and Rothamsted Research, plus over 50 food systems Academy partners from business, government and civil society.

The PhD programme starts in September 2023. In the first year, each UKFS-CDT student undertakes training activities based at the Natural Resources Institute (NRI) of the University of Greenwich in Medway, Kent, with visits to partner institutions until the end of November 2023. Students then embark on two four-month rotation projects.

Projects available

These projects are clearly defined studies designed to provide our students with the research skills, training and subject knowledge required to prepare a full interdisciplinary PhD proposal at the end of year 1. Students will be asked to select one of the following projects based at NIAB for the natural science rotation:

  • Business as usual is unsustainable: We must produce healthier foods, using appropriate phosphorus inputs
  • Antimicrobial potential of UK's edible mushrooms for sustainable crop protection
  • Climate change and salinity effects on soft fruit production: Approaches to mitigate the impact
  • Pollination in urban cropping systems - benefits for biodiversity and human health
  • Impacts of Precision Agriculture Tools in Orchard Crops
  • It is time for "Nutrition Smart Horticulture", it helps build resilience to climate change and improve nutrition
  • Improve strawberry growth consistency in vertical farming
  • Microbiome engineering for sustainable food production in soil-less systems 
  • Challenges and solutions for a zero-waste winery in the UK
  • Berries enriched with selenium enhance plant tolerance to environmental stresses and promote human well-being

UK Food Systems Centre for Doctoral Training UKFS-CDT logo

The second rotation will be based at a different institution of the UKFS-CDT consortium and be selected from a catalogue of projects. The combination of the two rotations will form the foundation for creating the full PhD proposal.

Following the rotations, thesis proposals will be further developed and finalised by the student, supervisors, and partners from the Food System Academy in two-day “Project and Thesis Proposal Workshop”.

The PhD project will commence in year two with the student based at NIAB. It is an innovative way of conducting a PhD centred on co-creation and exposure to a varied range of actors operating in UK food systems.

Each student will initially register as a student with the University of Greenwich. After the first 12 months, when the PhD research starts, student registration will be transferred to the University of the second supervisor.

In the second or third year of the PhD programme, students will undertake a three-month placement with industry, government or civil society.


Full details of the application procedure, projects and eligibility for funding is on the UKFS-CDT website.

Please apply by 23:59 GMT on Monday, 18th September 2023.

Apply now