PhD Studentship - Soil Biology Derived Ecosystem Services through Organic
Material Applications

Start date: 24th September 2018
Fee status of eligible applicants: UK & EU only
Duration of Award if full time preferred*: 3 years
Supervisors - 1st Supervisor: Dr Mark Pawlett. 2nd Supervisor: Professor Jim Harris
Sponsored by the Royal Horticultural Society and Cranfield University, this studentship will provide a bursary of up to 14,296 plus fees* per year for three years.
Reference Number: SWEE0045
Closing Date: 27th July 2018

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Funded in collaboration with the Royal Horticultural Society, this PhD will provide a unique opportunity to interact with the horticultural industry by investigating the ecosystem benefits of applying organic materials to horticultural soil.

This research aims to determine whether the long-term application of singular types of organic materials benefits the soil biology (earthworms and microbiology), and investigate whether any effects identified are likely to provide wider societal benefits (ecosystem services).

The research will impact both academia and the horticultural industry. The student will be encouraged to publish in internationally recognised academic journals and present at international conferences. Findings will also be disseminated to the horticultural industry via the RHS website (receives 40,000 hits a day) and grey literature (circulated to its 480,000 members), presenting at RHS and other events such as the Chelsea Flower Show and Hampton Court. The horticultural industry will benefit through improved evidence based knowledge regarding sustainable management practice. Findings will also benefit gardeners by improving soil biology education and influencing their decisions regarding the management of their garden soil.

This research offers an opportunity to be involved with horticultural research through collaboration with the RHS, thus improving knowledge exchange between the horticulture industry and academia while gaining a unique insight into horticulture policy. Both Cranfield University and RHS have an extensive PhD support mechanism and supporting facilities. Cranfield commitment to soil science is demonstrated by recently being awarded the Queen`s Anniversary Prize 2017 for Soil Research, and development of two new 3M agricultural technology centres that complement existing facilities. Similarly in 2014 the RHS began a strategic investment programme 100m into infrastructure and facilities around its 5 gardens. The PhD student will have access to training and facilities at both Cranfield University and the RHS.

During the PhD the student will have access to a unique long-term field-trial. In addition they will develop a novel technique to study the functional capacity of the soil biological system using catabolic profiling coupled with thermodynamic efficiency.

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a first or second class UK honours degree or equivalent in a related discipline. This project would suit individuals with a degree in agriculture, ecology, soil or biological sciences. You should be confident in the laboratory environment, with an interest in soil health and horticulture. A driving licence will be required to travel to and from the long-term field-trial.


*UK and EU applicants are eligible for this funding. The student will be expected to stay in the UK for the duration of the PhD.

How to apply

For further information please contact:

Dr Mark Pawlett
T: (0) 1234 750111 Ext: 2702

If you are eligible to apply for this studentship, please complete the online application form.

posted: 21 May 2018     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.