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PhD in Plants and Microbes: crop production and protection, the interaction between plants and other plants, pests and pathogens, and soils, and the interactions of ecosystems with global change

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Plants underpin life on Earth. In Sheffield, world leading plant research is undertaken across all scales from the molecular level through to the leaf and root, whole plant and ecosystem. We study crop production and protection, the interaction between plants and other plants, pests and pathogens, and soils, and the interactions of ecosystems with global change. Our work provides industry breeders with ways to improve crops and policymakers with evidence to address major global challenges. Research approaches controlled vary from controlled environment and field experiments, to mathematical modelling, and analysis of large ‘omics datasets. We address challenges in temperate, boreal, Arctic, Savanna, tropical and sub-Saharan regions in both agricultural and natural systems.

The Department of Animal and Plant Sciences is home to world experts in plant development, photosynthesis and growth, and the relationships between plants and the environment, especially the impacts of rising atmospheric CO2 and climate change. We also have a broad range of interests in the interactions of plants with other organisms, including mycorrhizal fungi, weeds, insect pests, and fungal and bacterial pathogens. The department hosts P3, a global centre of excellence for translational plant science that works with collaborators in the crop breeding industry to improve agricultural and horticultural productivity and protection. Our researchers and collaborators are world leading experts in a range of advanced molecular techniques, including molecular genetics, metabolomics, fluorescent imaging, gas exchange analysis and carbon isotope analysis.

Ours is a truly international environment, in the heart of one of the best student cities in the UK. Our research involves collaborations with colleagues in the UK, Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, and South America. Our postgraduate community is vibrant and diverse and we currently have over 100 graduate students carrying out PhD research, including numerous international students. We frequently host overseas staff and researchers attracted by the department’s and Sheffield’s outstanding reputation for high quality research and training.

As a PhD student in our department, 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, and training from world leading experts in subject specific skills. 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.

Entry Requirements

We welcome applications from students with backgrounds in any relevant subject that provides the necessary skills, knowledge and experience, including environmental, biological, chemical, mathematical, physical and social sciences. Candidates are expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree (or equivalent international qualifications). EU and International applicants may be required to provide evidence of competence in the English Language.

For more information and how to apply:

Funding Notes

Applications and Funding

We welcome applications from UK, EU and other international students. Please look at the departmental page to explore our active research areas. If you are interested in applying, you should first identify one or more research supervisors that suits your interests and contact them to discuss project ideas and funding options. UK and EU students are usually funded through one of our Doctoral Training Programmes. Overseas applicants should consult our external funding page to identify potential funding sources.

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