UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources


Fully funded PhD Studentship on global food production available

21 March 2016

Quad (c) UCL

PhD Studentship on the impacts of climate change and land degradation on global food production


•    Title: PhD Studentship on the impacts of climate change and land degradation on global food production
•    Supervisors: Dr Paul Dodds (UCL), Dr Olivier Dessens (UCL), Dr Jeffrey Herrick (US Department of Agriculture)
•    Stipend: UK/EU fees & annual enhanced stipend approx. £17,000 and research budget
•    Start Date: After 1 July 2016
•    Funding Duration: 3 years

About the UCL Institute of Sustainable Resources
UCL is one of the world's premier universities, consistently ranked in the global top 10. It is a world-class research and teaching institution. The UCL Institute of Sustainable Resources (UCL-ISR) generates knowledge in the globally sustainable use of natural resources and trains the future leaders of this field. Our definition of resources is broad, and our research approach is equally inclusive, bringing together experts from across UCL. UCL-ISR has a vibrant Doctoral Training Programme of over 16 PhD students and a growing portfolio of multidisciplinary postgraduate programmes. Our students work alongside experienced researchers in a dynamic, multidisciplinary environment.

About the project
We are looking for an outstanding student to perform research on the impacts of climate change and land degradation on global food production.
Food production now and in the future is likely to be adversely affected by two interacting processes that are already established and ongoing. One of these processes is land degradation, which is already having a severe impact on food production in some parts of the world and impeding necessary efforts to close the ‘food yield gap’ between highly productive agriculture in some countries and much less productive agriculture, on land of similar basic productive land potential, elsewhere. The other is climate change, the effects of which are already beginning to bring about the social and economic instability and damage which climate scientists have been warning of for some years. Further climate change is likely to change crop yields in the future.
This PhD will seek to relate agricultural output to key weather variables and land degradation in the major crop growing areas of the world. It will use likely the EPIC crop model, which is particularly suited to examining land degradation, with weather data derived from reanalysis and climate simulations. It will evaluate the performance of crop mode against past crop yields in the major crop growing areas, and will consider the potential impacts of adaptation in the future. The data processing and modelling will need to be automated to achieve these goals. The student will be expected to be comfortable working across academic disciplines and will need strong modelling and data analysis skills.
The successful candidate will be part of a major international project with partners including the US Department of Agriculture, who will co-supervise the PhD. The research will contribute to related research across the wider project.

Person Specification
•    Passionate about global environmental change issues.
•    A self-motivated researcher willing to develop their technical and analytical skills and to contribute to the overall aims of the research project in innovative ways.
•    An MSc degree in a quantitative discipline.
•    Strong technical skills in programming and data analysis.
•    Ability to use own initiative and prioritise workload.
•    Good interpersonal and communication skills (oral and written).
•    Strong organisational skills.
•    A high level of attention to detail in working methods.

Application Procedure
Stage 1 – The following pre-application documents should be emailed directly to Mae Oroszlany (e.oroszlany@ucl.ac.uk):
1.    CV.
2.    1-page personal statement outlining motivation, interest and eligibility for the post, and identifying relevant programming and data analysis experience.
3.    Academic transcripts.
4.    Name and contact details of those providing an Academic Reference for you. If references are required prior to interview, they will only be taken up after receiving the consent of the candidate.
5.    If English is NOT your first language, evidence that you meet UCL's English Language requirements.

Stage 2 – Following the interview, the successful candidate will be invited to make a formal application to the UCL Research Degree programme. Further guidance will be provided.
Any offer made will be subject to references and proof of meeting the UCL English language requirements.

Informal enquiries on the content of the research topic should be emailed to Dr Paul Dodds (mailto:p.dodds@ucl.ac.uk).

Deadline for application: 24 April 2016.
Interviews will be held 11 May 2016

Start Date: From July 2016, depending on completing a successful application to the UCL Research Degree programme.