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Soil as a core infrastructure to support catchment and water supply resilience PhD


School of Water, Energy and Environment (SWEE)

Dr Andrea Momblanch Monday, May 31, 2021 Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
Bedford United Kingdom Agricultural Sciences Chemical Engineering Climate Science Energy Technologies Environmental Engineering Marine Sciences Soil Science

About the Project

A PhD project at the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Water Infrastructure and Resilience (WIRe)

Soil is a fundamental component of the water cycle. Thus, from field to catchment scale, soils should be regarded as vital assets that water companies must consider when planning their investments. Pervasive soil compaction compromises soil health and profile hydraulic connectivity, directly impacting on groundwater recharge, runoff generation and water quality. There is a diverse, and at times contradictory, evidence base on the impacts of soil and rotational management interventions (e.g. cover crops and minimum tillage) on soil profile structural regeneration and soil compaction remediation across soil types, rotational contexts and temporal scales. There is also a lack of understanding of scale effects from plot to catchment that entails significant simplifications and assumptions in the parameterisation of hydrological models, which are needed to identify the strategic extent and location of such interventions in the catchment. This limits the credibility of the quantitative evidence available on the efficacy of these interventions to inform decisions of water companies, hindering their wider deployment.

We are an inclusive and diverse doctoral centre and welcome applications from all highly motivated individuals, regardless of background, identity or disability.

This thrilling fully funded four-year PhD will combine field experiments, laboratory analyses and modelling work to deliver insights into the efficacy of soil management interventions to promote soil profile to aquifer connectivity and nutrient retention across a range of crop rotation and field-scale contexts and their impacts at a catchment scale. Close collaboration with Affinity Water will allow the research outputs to support better informed investments in soil management to relieve the pressure on their water supply and treatment infrastructures. 


Entry requirements

Applicants should have:

  • A first or upper second-class UK honours MSc degree, or equivalent, in geomorphology, soil or hydrological sciences.
  • A full-UK driving license is essential.
  • Experience in process-based modelling of soil-water processes is highly valued (not essential).
  • Previous experience of establishing and monitoring field trials (not essential).
  • Excellent communication skills for regular interaction with industrial sponsors, farmers and supervisors.
  • Be self-motivated and with an interest in applied scientific research.

We particularly welcome applications from diverse and under-represented backgrounds and can offer flexible working arrangements.

How to apply

If you are eligible to apply for the PhD, please complete the online PhD application.


Funding Notes

Sponsored by EPSRC and Affinity Water Ltd, this studentship will cover:
- A stipend of £19,000 per annum.
- PhD fees.
- Research equipment and consumables to the value of £19,000.
- Research Training Support Grant of £20,000 over the duration of the PhD for research-related personal development activities such as conference attendance and national or international research placements.

The studentship is open to UK and international students (including EU countries) however due to funding rules, no more than 30% of the projects in this cohort can be allocated to international students.

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