PhD Studentship - Mechanical Modelling of the Stability of Earth's Peatland Carbon Reservoirs

University of Nottingham - Mathematical Sciences

Location: University Park

Supervisors: Dr David Large (Chemical & Environmental Engineering), Dr Matthew Hubbard (Mathematical Sciences), Dr Donald Brown (Mathematical Sciences), Dr Bagus Muljadi (Chemical & Environmental Engineering), Professor Neil Crout (Biosiences).

Do you have a passion for sustainability? 

Would you like to apply mathematical research to help improve resource security? 

Modelling and Analytics for a Sustainable Society (MASS) is a Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarships programme at the University of Nottingham that aims to tackle the ongoing global problems of food shortages, water scarcity and insufficient clean energy by using mathematics to help understand and optimise resource use through predictive modelling and statistical analysis. 

The project involves the development of mechanical models of peatland growth and restoration. Peat is a soft multiphase (solid, liquid, gas) material that stores 1/3 of earth’s terrestrial carbon. Current models combine mass balance and hydrology but none consider the mechanical stability of the peat. This is a huge oversight as the extremely weak multiphase peat body should deform with ease and this deformation must influence gas emissions and long term stability. The project will develop novel numerical models of peat growth and the mechanical response of peat to the changes in loading, mass balance and hydrology. The student will have the opportunity to visit peatlands in the UK and Malaysia and to link their work to geospatial observations.

For more information, including details of other available research projects, please visit:

The Leverhulme Doctoral Scholars, who will be based in the new £7m Mathematical Sciences Building, will be exposed to an outstanding and vibrant research environment in mathematics, resource science, engineering and social sciences, with excellent opportunities for international engagement. At the end of their PhD, the Scholars will be eligible to apply for an additional one-year post-doctoral prize, funded by The University of Nottingham, to help establish their independent research careers. 

Summary: The scholarships are for four years and will cover PhD tuition fees for UK/EU students, plus a tax-free stipend of £14,553 per annum (2017/18 rate). While the scholarships may be held by students of all nationalities, the Leverhulme Trust has a particular interest in supporting UK or EU students. International students would be expected to cover the difference between international and UK/EU tuition fees (currently approximately £9,500 per annum).

Eligibility: Appropriately motivated students should have, or expect to obtain, a first-class or good 2:1 honours degree and/or a distinction or high merit at MSc level in Mathematics or a subject with a strong mathematical component (e.g. physics, engineering, computer science). 

Apply: Please visit the MASS web page and identify up to three projects of interest. Then apply via the University of Nottingham application page, using the personal statement section to indicate that you are applying to the “Mathematics for A Sustainable Society” programme, making sure to list your preferred projects, and uploading a CV of no more than two pages. 

Studentships are available from September 2018 and will remain open until filled, early application is encouraged. 

For any enquiries please email: 

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Midlands of England