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Understanding the potential role of biofortified (nutrient enhanced) crops for improving UK diets

   School of Health and Related Research

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  Dr Sam Caton  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Micronutrient deficiencies are highly prevalent in UK populations and are associated with the dual burden of malnutrition. Food-based health inequalities have been exacerbated through prolonged austerity and the Covid-19 pandemic. The aim of this project is to address nutritional shortfalls by enhancing the nutrient content of habitual diets via biofortified (nutrient enhanced) crops.

Novel systems for crop growing are being developed at the University of Sheffield as part of the H3 “Healthy soil, healthy food, healthy people” UKRI SPF funded project ( Using these, and crops produced by Harvest Plus (, this research studentship will explore the overarching question of “Can the nutrient quality of the UK diet be enhanced via biofortification of crops?” A series of investigations will be carried out focusing on producer and consumer acceptance. Social, economic, health-related, and regulatory barriers and facilitators of acceptance of biofortified crops will be explored using qualitative and/ or quantitative methods. Sensory properties of nutrient enhanced crops are generally well accepted in low- and middle-income countries, yet this has not been fully explored in the UK context and so this will be explored by the candidate. Within this PhD there will be scope for the candidate to develop studies to investigate acceptance in laboratory and home environments.

This PhD studentship, funded by the University of Sheffield is linked to the interdisciplinary H3 project, and is linked to the Institute for Sustainable Food, one of the University of Sheffield’s four flagship research institutes: The Institute conducts basic, translational and transformative research, taking the latest scientific knowledge and applying it in real-world settings, to ensure that the production and consumption of the world’s food is sustainable and resilient. The appointed student will benefit from multidisciplinary interactions within both the H3 project, the research institute and expertise at the Universities of Manchester and Leeds.  

The studentship provides:

·      Home tuition fees for 3.5 years

·      Annual stipend at UKRI rates

·      A training, research cost and travel fund

The student will have the opportunity to gain training in a range of methods that will be applicable to a diverse range of academic and non-academic career paths. This is a University of Sheffield funded studentship.

Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health (FMDH) Graduate school

As a PhD student in one of the departments in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health (FMDH) at the University of Sheffield, you will receive training to support your career development via the FMDH graduate school. For more details visit:

The student undertaking this project will have the opportunity to be a University of Sheffield Grantham scholar and to take advantage of the programme of sustainability training offered. The Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures focuses on advancing sustainability research and connecting it with the policy debate around how humans can live in a more sustainable way (

Entry Requirements:

You will:

• Demonstrate your enthusiasm to work collaboratively in an interdisciplinary environment.

• Have completed an undergraduate degree classified at equivalent to 2.1 and Masters degree in a relevant topic.

• Have a background in one of the following areas. Due to the multidisciplinary nature of this project candidates from a wide variety of disciplines will be considered with relevant expertise such as (but not limited to), psychology, human nutrition, plant science, plant nutrition, human geography.

• Meet English language requirements

How to apply:

Please complete a University Postgraduate Research Application form available here: 

Please clearly state the title of the studentship, the prospective main supervisor and select ScHARR as the department.

You will also need to include:

• a draft outline of your proposed PhD study, in line with the research themes described above, of approximately 500 words

• a covering letter explaining why you wish to apply for this studentship.

• a copy of your CV.

Funding Notes

The University of Sheffield will provide the following funding for 3.5 years.
• Annual stipend at UKRI rates.
• Home tuition fees for 3.5 years
• RTSG of up to £3,000 per annum.
Please note that international and EU fee rate candidates would need to cover the remaining amount of tuition fees by securing additional funding. International and EU tuition fees for 2023 entry £ 23,410 to £24,410
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