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BARIToNE Project E - Towards climate-Positive baRley: developing mOdel-based approaches to idenTify pathways and EvidenCe benefiTs (PROTECT)

   School of Life Sciences

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  Dr Pete Iannetta, Prof Graeme Walker, Dr D Gilmour, Dr Colm Duffy  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Principal Industrial Supervisor – Gillian MacDonald, Glenmorangie

Principal Academic Supervisors – Dr. Pietro Iannetta, James Hutton Institute

Additional Supervisors – Prof. Graeme Walker & Prof. Daniel Gilmour, Abertay University

This project will be based at the James Hutton Institute, Invergowrie and the appointed student will registered at Abertay University as the degree awarding institution.

This four-year PhD studentship is fully funded by the BARIToNE Collaborative Training Partnership and offered (from Oct. 2022) by Abertay University, Glenmorangie Distillers, and the James Hutton Institute. 

The project aims to identify approaches to reduce the carbon (C) footprint of cereal (barley) production in-line with net-zero targets. Agriculture is a significant contributor to UK and global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and Scotland has committed to reach net-zero C-emissions by 2045. While crop research trials have identified potential approaches to reduce barley C-footprint for distilling, these have not been critically examined.

The studentship will therefore analyse value chain data to identify and account environmental impact indicators that assess the sustainability of barley production methods, and downstream value-chain segments, using life-cycle analysis (LCA). The approach will identify synergistic ‘wins’ in overall emissions reductions, minimising negative trade-offs in other impact-categories.  

An initial literature review and expert stakeholder consultation will identify innovations to reduce the C-footprint of barley production. In parallel, a bespoke ‘grain-to-glass’ LCA model will be developed to characterise barley production and processing at Glenmorangie in terms of C-footprint and other environmental impacts. LCA-scenarios will be considered to identify best-case approaches for net-zero barley production and distilling. The approach will draw-upon: Hutton’s extensive datasets of integrated cropping practices; Abertay’s expertise in applied-science of processing for distilling; and, includes industry placements with Glenmorangie.

The project presents an excellent opportunity for training in multi-disciplinary skills and techniques including stakeholder elicitation, LCA modelling, data management, and statistical analysis. The project will suit candidates with a data science background who are keen to apply their skills to solve agri-environmental and value-chain challenges using quantitative tools for sustainable development. Partnering with Glenmorangie also offers invaluable experience in translating research for practical application - since LCA-based tools which have emerged as critical to inform sustainable development and research priorities of the business, and the industry more broadly. 

Candidates should have a high-class Honours degree (equivalent to 2:1 or above) and/or an excellent postgraduate qualification in a relevant subject. The project benefits from a highly experienced supervisory team, including: Profs Graeme Walker and Daniel Gilmour, Abertay University; Gillian Macdonald and Peter Nelson, Glenmorangie; and, Drs Pietro Iannetta and Colm Duffy, James Hutton Institute. Before applying, we recommend contacting [Email Address Removed], or [Email Address Removed], providing a CV and explaining why this project is of interest to you.

How to Apply

Please visit the main BARIToNE programme page for more details

Funding Notes

Studentship will cover a full UKRI stipend (currently £15,609/annum) tuition fees, training and travel budget. Part-time study is an option (please indicate on your application) and we offer enhanced support to individuals with primary care responsibilities or disabilities.
Applications are welcome from Home students. To be classed as a Home student, candidates must meet the UKRI eligibility criteria (found in the Training Grant T&C's here - https://www.ukri.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/UKRI-170821-TrainingGrantTermsConditionsGuidance-Aug2021.pdf).
Applicants are expected to hold (about to achieve) at least a 2:1 Honours degree (or demonstrable equivalent experience) in a relevant subject (e.g. Biology, Genetics, Plant Sciences, Ecology, Soil Science, Computer Sciences etc.).


1. Goodall, I, Fotheringham, R, Murray, D, Speers, A., Walker, G.M. (2015) Eds. Distilled Spirits. Future Challenges & New Solutions [Proceedings of the 5th Worldwide Conference on Distilled Spirits, Glasgow]. Context Publishers, Nottingham ISBN 9781899043712.
2. Walker, G.M, Abbas, C, Ingledew, W.M, Pilgrim, C (2017) Eds. The Alcohol Textbook, 6th Edition. Duluth, Georgia: Ethanol Technology Institute. pp 592. ISBN: 978-0-692-93088-5
3. Lienhardt, T., Black, K., Saget, S., Costa, M.P., Chadwick, D., Rees, R.M., Williams, M., Spillane, C., Iannetta, P.P.M., Walker, G., Styles, D. (2019). Just the tonic! Legume biorefining for alcohol has the potential to reduce Europe's protein deficit and mitigate climate change. Environment International 130, p.104870. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2019.05.064.
4. Black, K., Daute, M., Tziboula-Clarke, A., White, P., Iannetta, P.P.M., Walker, G. (2020) Utilisation of low-nitrogen barley for production of distilling-quality malt. Journal of the American Society of Brewing Chemists. https://doi.org/10.1080/03610470.2020.1796090.
5. Buxton, I., Hughes, P.S. (2020). The Science and Commerce of Whisky. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry.
6. Hawes, C., Iannetta, P.P.M., Squire, G.R. (2021) Agroecological practices for whole-system sustainability. CAB Reviews 16, 5. https://www.cabi.org/cabreviews/review/20210002801.
7. Messean, A., Viguier, L., Paresys, L., Aubertot, J.-N., Canali, S., Iannetta, P.P.M., Justes, E., Karley, A., Keillor, B., Kemper, L., Muel, F., Pancino, B., Stilmant, D., Watson, C.A., Willer, H., Zornoza, R. (2021). Enabling crop diversification to support transitions towards more sustainable European agrifood systems. Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering 8, 474‒480. http://www.engineering.org.cn/en/10.15302/J-FASE-2021406.
8. Russell, I., Stewart, G.G., Kellershohn, J. (2021) Whisky and Other Spirit 3rd Edition. Academic Press ISBN: ISBN 978-0-12-822076-4
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