Two PhD Studentships within the DREAM Centre for Doctoral Training in Energy Systems Informatics and Landscape Resilience Informatics

Cranfield University - Water, Energy and Environment

Application Deadline: Thursday November 30th, 2017
Start Date: Cranfield campus – 6th Feb 
Eligibility: UK, EU 
Duration of award: 3 years 
Ref: PhD One (NERD-IT): SWEE0030. PhD Two (Landscape resilience): SWEE0031
Supervisors: Dr. Nazmiye Ozkan and Dr Simon Jude

The two NERC studentships, sponsored respectively by Centrica and Natural England, will provide an initial bursary of £17,500, rising to £18,500 p.a. in the final year (tax free) plus fees* for three years.

Two separate three year fully-funded PhD studentships at Cranfield University, first in the energy informatics sector partnering with Centrica, and second in the landscape resilience sector partnering with Natural England, both studentships being part of the NERC DREAM Centre for Doctoral Training.

PhD Studentship One: NERD-IT: New forms of Real time Data informing Innovative Tariffs

Project Achieving 80% reduction in UK emissions from 1990 levels (as enshrined in Climate Change Act) requires radical changes in the ways we generate, deliver and consume energy. This will require high shares of renewable energy generation on the one hand and electrification of heating and transport sectors, resulting in higher demands for electricity, on the other. In order to reduce the need for costly stand-by capacity to deal with the intermittency of renewable resources and keep the cost of energy affordable, the energy industry needs to be able to respond to changes in supply and demand dynamically. This is contingent upon understanding what is happening in real or near real time in demand and supply profiles, anticipating how they might change in the next time period and what actions should be taken to lower costs of energy provision. The roll-out of smart meters along with the increasing availability of new forms of user data from crowdsourced platforms such as social media, mobile phones and apps offer an immense opportunity to improve our understanding of consumer’s energy behaviours and preferences and UK’s changing energy mix in near real-time and at a low geographical resolution.

This PhD studentship at Cranfield University will involve collaboration with Centrica’s Cornwall Local Energy Market project, an ERDF-funded project that will test the use of flexible demand, generation and storage to address these challenges. The PhD student will analyse the scope of computational methods like machine learning or hierarchical analytic methods to analyse these new forms of data to enable suppliers to recognise tipping points, emerging patterns, interdependencies and end-user behaviours in near real time. This would in turn enable the development of demand side measures in the residential sector and reduce the need for stand-by generation, overall keeping energy affordable for UK consumers whilst decarbonizing our energy system.

PhD Studentship Two: Characterising and exploring landscape resilience through big data and visualisation technologies

Landscape is the arena in which natural capital (providing ‘supporting’, ‘provisioning’, ‘regulating’ and ‘cultural’ ecosystem goods and services) interacts with elements of the other four ‘capital’s’ to create the real places that people inhabit, derive benefits from and care about. Throughout time, landscapes change as a result of natural processes but the rate of change is now orders of magnitudes greater due to anthropogenic activity. Thus key questions facing those organisations involved in landscape management and policy include:

  • Is the rate of landscape change taking place today sustainable in terms of conserving the diversity of character and functions? and critically
  • How resilient are England’s landscapes to change?

Natural England is one such organisation, responsible for delivering the Government Agenda in this field. Conservation 21 – Natural England’s conservation strategy for the 21st Century, places emphasis on ‘resilient landscapes’. Significantly they argue that ‘resilient’ landscapes must be both ecologically and culturally resilient (implying culturally valued/supported/voted-for etc.), highlighting that landscapes lacking cultural resilience are unlikely to be ecologically resilient in the long term.

Working in partnership with Natural England’s Strategy Team, this exciting studentship will investigate the use of big data relating to natural and social sciences, together with, for example Virtual Reality visualisation and big data techniques, to provide an holistic, integrated analysis of ecosystem service provision as experienced through society’s perception of the changing landscapes around them and in a way that secures assessment of ecological and cultural aspects of the management of the natural environment equally. This will then enable development of management and intervention aimed at enhancing natural capital, ecosystem goods and services in their cultural context, by testing different scenarios. The studentship will be based in the Cranfield’s Agri-informatics Institute and make extensive use of the NERC-funded ‘Ecosystem Services Databank and Visualisation for Terrestrial Informatics’ Laboratory, which includes a Virtalis stereo VR system and GeoVisionary software, and Occulus Rift suite.

We are seeking a highly motivated candidate with an interest and aptitude for transdisciplinary environmental research, particularly geographical information systems/spatial analysis, policy, decision-making and social sciences. The candidate will be a member of the NERC/ESRC DREAM Centre for Doctoral Training and will receive excellent support in terms of training and mentoring.

Entry requirements:
Both projects are highly interdisciplinary and we welcome applications from a range of disciplines. Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in subjects such as Computer Science, Ecology, Engineering, Environmental Science, Geography Mathematics, Natural Sciences or Psychology.

 To be eligible for this funding, applicants must be a UK or EU national.We require that applicants are under no restrictions regarding how long they can stay in the UK i.e. have no visa restrictions or applicant has “settled status” and has been “ordinarily resident” in the UK for 3 years prior to start of studies and has not been residing in the UK wholly or mainly for the purpose of full-time education. (This does not apply to UK or EU nationals). Due to funding restrictions all EU nationals are eligible to receive a fees-only award if they do not have “settled status” in the UK.

Cranfield Doctoral Network:
Both studentships will be part of the NERC ‘DREAM’ Centre for Doctoral Training (, offering an attractive stipend, a strong professional development ethos and fantastic training provision. Its research experience combines academic rigour with real-world problem solving, ensuring opportunities to progress your career. Researchers will study for a PhD, benefiting from expertise, events and courses run at all four of the DREAM partner universities (Cranfield, Cambridge, Newcastle, Birmingham).

How to apply:
For further information please contact:

PhD One (NERD-IT): Dr Nazmiye Ozkan, Senior Lecturer in Environmental/Energy Economics, E:, T: (0) 1234 754296

PhD Two (Landscape resilience): Dr Simon Jude, Senior Lecturer in Environmental Decision Making, E:, T: (0) 1234 754295

To apply, please complete and submit the application form online at

For further information contact us today:
T: +44 (0)1234 758082

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