Imperial College London

PhDs to develop solutions for changing planet in new training partnership


planet earth

One hundred and twenty five PhD students will join Imperial over the next five years in a new Doctoral Training Partnership worth over £6m.

Announced last night by the Science and Universities minister David Willetts, Imperial’s DTP will focus on Science and Solutions for a Changing Planet.

It aims to tackle global environmental change by bringing together postgraduate students from a range of different academic disciplines and preparing them to become effective policy makers, entrepreneurs and business leaders. The students will address issues such as how UK homeowners and businesses can handle their risk of flooding; how agricultural production can deal with the rising threat of invasive species on UK trees and plant life; and how to deal with challenges around water quality and scarcity.

The National Environment Research Council (NERC) is providing over £6m funding for the DTP, which is one of fifteen created across the UK. It is a collaboration between the College, six key research partners (see right) and 27 other private and public sector partners.

Twenty five new students will join the DTP every year for five years, receiving in-depth, advanced research training, as well as training in professional and transferable skills. Partners will offer training and secondment opportunities designed to enhance the students’ employability. Those partners with business and government experience will also provide skills coaching in policy, regulation, and entrepreneurship.

We're dedicated to providing the next generation of environmental researchers with the necessary skills and training to succeed in academia and industry.

– David Willetts

Science and Universities minister

NERC is funding 75 new studentships and Imperial is contributing 50 studentships to the cohort.

The director of the DTP at Imperial will be Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, Director of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change. He said: “I am delighted to be leading this initiative. Our experience from running the Grantham PhD cohort will help us to deliver an excellent training programme for PhD students.”

Minister David Willetts said: “This significant investment highlights the Government’s commitment to supporting postgraduate training and research in the environmental sciences. We're dedicated to providing the next generation of environmental researchers with the necessary skills and training to succeed in academia and industry.”

Professor James Stirling CBE FRS, Provost of Imperial College London, said:

“NERC’s backing for this new Doctoral Training Programme at Imperial is testament to the College’s excellence in the environmental sciences.

“The five-year programme encapsulates much of what makes an Imperial education so great. Students will undertake cutting-edge research, engage with government and industry, and apply the fruits of their work for the benefit of our environment and society.

“This innovative new programme will train and inspire a new generation of environmental experts and leaders who will tackle some of the toughest challenges of our time. We are very grateful for NERC’s support and vision in setting this up.”

Professor Duncan Wingham, chief executive of NERC, said: “If UK environmental sciences are going to continue to prosper, we need to make sure we get the best from our students. These DTPs position us to compete in an increasingly competitive global environment by training students in the best possible way to use environmental sciences to help meet the challenges and opportunities facing us today.

“We want to provide these students with the skillsets and experiences to equip them to become future scientific leaders, and sustain the flow of top talent and skilled people for UK research, business and government. Encouraging collaboration between academic institutions and partners across the environmental sciences sector when delivering training for every student will help achieve this.”

To find out more information about the Science and Solutions for a Changing Planet Doctoral Training Programme please email


Laura Gallagher

Laura Gallagher
Communications Division

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