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ACCE DTP fully funded studentship - FACE-ing the future: the world's first CO2 enriched enhanced weathering field trials

   School of Biosciences

  Prof D J Beerling, , , Dr Simon Kemp  Friday, January 14, 2022  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Sheffield United Kingdom Agricultural Sciences Climate Science Geochemistry Molecular Biology Plant Biology

About the Project

The Sheffield-based Leverhulme Centre is setting up the world’s first Free-Air CO2 Enrichment (FACE) experiment for studying ERW with soybean and maize crops in the USA in collaboration with University of Illinois partners. This provides a unique and exciting opportunity to evaluate how future CO2 concentrations affect key soil microbial and plant processes driving the efficiency of ERW under in situ field conditions.

Objectives. The student will visit our FACE trials in the USA where we are growing N2-fixing C3 soybean successively for two years followed by the C4 maize for one year in six 9-m diameter FACE rings, three with elevated CO2 and three controls. Each ring is split into two with half receiving basalt and the other representing a no-basalt control. Additionally, within each ring, we will bury replicated mesh bags containing crushed basalt that will be recovered after years 1, 2, and 3 from beneath the crops, together with flash-frozen soil and root samples. Working as part of a wider project team, the student will use a suite of geochemical and mineralogical techniques to determine grain-scale weathering and N-cycling, and couple this to the functional soil metagenome and root transcriptional responses. The goal is to understand how CO2 enrichment accelerates carbon removal in croplands at the genomic level.

Further details. The post suits a highly motivated student with interests in climate change mitigation, crop science, molecular biology and geochemistry. They will gain excellent training in a range of cutting-edge transferrable skills in geochemistry, mineralogy and bioinformatics. The successful candidate will be embedded within the vibrant research groups of LC3M (Sheffield), with outstanding facilities and expertise to support the student, and work closely with the British Geological Survey. Informal enquires are welcome to Professor David Beerling ()

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.

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.

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