Don't miss our weekly PhD newsletter | Sign up now Don't miss our weekly PhD newsletter | Sign up now

  ACCE DTP fully funded studentship - Dynamics of 'Glacier Blood' microbial ecosystems in the European Alps

   Department of Geography

This project is no longer listed on and may not be available.

Click here to search for PhD studentship opportunities
  Dr D Swift, Dr RG Bryant, Dr Jagroop Pandhal  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Mountain environments are home to extremophilic terrestrial microalgae that become loaded with pigments to protect them from strong light conditions (notably, high UV irradiance). The red staining of snow and ice surfaces characteristic of such microbial activity at high altitude (known as ‘glacier blood’) is now noticeably more frequent and is evidence that warming is impacting mountain ecology at the most fundamental of levels, with potentially destablising consequences for mountain ecosystems and ice masses . Although algae residing within the surface of high-latitude ice masses is now well-known to play globally significant roles in biogeochemical cycling and ice-albedo feedbacks, the distribution, diversity, and function of algal communities specific to alpine regions has been poorly studied, meaning little is understood regarding their origin and dynamics, means of production, and impact on carbon cycling and glacier melt. This project will couple Earth Observation approaches that will quantify algal community expansion at the Alpine scale with plot- and catchment-level sampling to enable: (a) metagenomic and metaproteomic analyses that will establish microbial community composition, processes and metabolic pathways; and (b) carbon quality and carbon isotope analysis that will quantify carbon fluxes from biological and geological sources. This novel suite of methods aims to provide unique insight into algal community functioning and dynamics and their role in biogeochemical processes that sequester atmospheric CO2.

This PhD project is part of the NERC funded Doctoral Training Partnership “ACCE” (Adapting to the Challenges of a Changing Environment. ACCE is a partnership between the Universities of Sheffield, Liverpool, York, CEH, and NHM, for more information about ACCE and how to apply please visit the website:

The NERC ACCE DTP and the University of Sheffield are committed to recruiting future scientists regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation or career pathway to date. We understand that commitment and excellence can be shown in many ways and we have built our recruitment process to reflect this. We welcome applicants from all backgrounds, particularly those underrepresented in science, who have curiosity, creativity and a drive to learn new skills. "

How to apply:

All applicants to ACCE must complete the ACCE personal statement proforma. This is instead of a normal personal/supporting statement/cover letter. The proforma is designed to standardise this part of the application to minimise the difference between those who are given support and those who are not. The proforma and more information on the ACCE application process can be found here:

Shortlisted applicants will be invited for an interview to take place in the w/c 21st February 2022.

Science Graduate School

As a PhD student in one of the science departments at the University of Sheffield, you’ll be part of the Science Graduate School. You’ll get access to training opportunities designed to support your career development by helping you gain professional skills that are essential in all areas of science. You’ll be able to learn how to recognise good research and research behaviour, improve your communication abilities and experience the breadth of technologies that are used in academia, industry and many related careers. Visit to learn more.

Biological Sciences (4) Chemistry (6) Environmental Sciences (13) Geography (17)

Funding Notes

Appointed candidates will be fully-funded for 3.5 years.
The funding includes:
Tax-free annual UKRI stipend (£15,609 for 2021/22 starts)
UK tuition fees (£4,500 for 2021/22)
Research support and training grant (RTSG)
We aim to support the most outstanding applicants from outside the UK and are able to offer a limited number of bursaries that will enable full studentships to be awarded to international applicants. These full studentships will only be awarded to exceptional quality candidates, due to the competitive nature of this scheme.

Where will I study?

Search Suggestions
Search suggestions

Based on your current searches we recommend the following search filters.