British grassland farming covers 72% (12.6 million ha) of the utilised agricultural area, supporting 9.7 and 34 million cattle and sheep respectively. Coupled with the drive towards zero-carbon 2040, improving the circularity of low risk, category 3 (Cat3) livestock by-products by upgrading their use could help retain calories and profitability in the value chain and may provide longer-term environmental and economic security for the UK meat processing sector. During 2020, approximately 3.5 million lambs were slaughtered in Wales for meat consumption, contributing to an estimated economic market value of £652 million from the red meat sector (Cymru, 2020a, 2020b). As such, the 19 operational red meat abattoirs in Wales directly support an agricultural workforce of 52,200 (Cymru, 2020a).
Cultured protein/cultivated meat (CM) heralds an age of biological innovations that can provide alternative nutritious, flavourful and high-quality protein that is indistinguishable from but complimentary to the traditional and is anticipated to be valued at US$12.7 billion by 2030. CM research focusses on scalable production system bottlenecks i.e. bioreactor design, scaffolds, cell source and media formulation. The growth medium used for the proliferation and differentiation of the cells used in CM is essential to be able to produce the final product efficiently. Furthermore, formulation of the medium should also be considered in the economic cost of the final product, in order to produce a cost-effective, carbon neutral alternative meat protein.
CM media is provided through commercially available base media products, containing an energy source, such as glucose, amino acids (AA, i.e. L-glutamine) and vitamins, but must also be supplemented with additional nutrients such as, hormones and growth factors, amongst others that can range into tens of million US$ per g. These are usually provided through foetal bovine serum (FBS) supplementation, dependent on the slaughter of pregnant cows. For meaningful global impact, CM protein production needs be both scalable and environmentally and economically sustainable, to reach largescale cultured protein production. Bioprocesses and bioreactor design are the focus of Cellular Agriculture Ltd, who are the industrial sponsors of this project.
AU, in collaboration with an abattoir, have developed a process to recover serum from the blood of slaughtered lambs (approx. 1M/year <1-year-old) for application in the food industry, that is otherwise a costly disposal burden. A liquid by-product stream generated may provide a low-cost and important source of AA’s, hormones and growth factors for CM production. The objective of this MPhil studentship will be to isolate and concentrate these molecules and assess the applicability of this stream to provide media component(s) for CM production. These studies will be bench marked against complete lamb serum and defined CM media reliant on hormone and/or FBS supplementation.
The prospective applicant should have a minimum of a 1st or good 2:1 in a relevant degree, and be available to take up the studentship by October 2022. The project is part-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) through the European Union’s Convergence programme administered by the Welsh Government. KESS II Masters scholarships are collaborative awards with external partners. (Applicants need to only apply, they do not need to search for partners.)
To apply, please submit the following to the Postgraduate Admissions Office by 24th September 2022:
1. A completed Research Programme Application, an up-to-date CV and two references. Applications should be made via the online Postgraduate Admissions Portal at https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/postgrad/apply/#apply–online. Here applicants can provide us with their personal details, select their chosen course and upload documents in support of their application. If you cannot find the specific course for which you wish to apply, or have any questions regarding the application process, please contact the Postgraduate Admissions Office ([Email Address Removed]) for further advice.
2. A completed KESS II Participant proposal form (put the reference number AUM70006 in the top right-hand box of the application form) and an up-to-date CV. KESS II application forms are available to download at the link below.
Please email a completed KESS II Participant proposal form [Email Address Removed] and [Email Address Removed]
3. A supporting statement of up to 1,000 words where you expand on your experience and interests and describe why you are a good candidate for this research studentship. Please refer to the Project Description. This can be uploaded via the Postgraduate Admissions Portal at the point of application or submitted via email to [Email Address Removed]
Value of Award: A stipend of £11,937. Each scholarship has an additional budget for travel, equipment/consumables and training to support your research. KESS II Masters Scholarship holders do not pay fees.
Length: Full-time for 1 year. (Theses must be submitted 3 months after the funded year study period.)
Training: The achievement of a Postgraduate Skills Development Award (PSDA) is compulsory for each KESS II scholar (The PSDA is based on a 60 credit award, which is an additional award to the Masters).
Eligibility: Due to ESF funding, eligibility restrictions apply to this scholarship. To be eligible, the successful candidate will need to be an EU national and resident in East Wales on University registration, and must also have the right to work in the region on qualification. The Convergence Area means the following counties of Wales:
- Isle of Anglesey
- Neath Port Talbot
- Rhondda Cynon Taff
Informal enquiries should be made to Dr David Bryant at [Email Address Removed] or 01970 823155
Quote Reference AUM70006
Closing date for applications 24th September 2022.