PhD Studentship: The Role of Agronomy and Genotype in Tissue Integrity and Associated Sugar Losses during Storage of Sugar Beet (Beta Vulgaris)

Harper Adams University

PhD Studentship (42 months funding including a 6 months paid work placement)

Harper Adams University (HAU) has the above research studentship available in the Crop and Environment Sciences Department. The project is funded by the British Beet Research Organisation (BBRO) and involves a six month placement at the BBRO at the start of the project.

Sugar beet is a major crop grown in temperate countries as a source of dietary sugar.  However, sugar can be lost from harvested roots during storage. Factors that reduce the propensity to root breakage and/or bruising may be associated with a reduction in sugar losses during storage. The student will identify phenotypic traits under genetic or agronomic control to enable plant breeders and growers to optimise tissue strength, making roots more resilient to damage. This project addresses a specific commercial need and also develops a commercially relevant scientist who would be well suited to working in the UK/EU industry across a range of crop types. 

  • Objective 1 – To identify extreme sugar beet varieties for tissue damage susceptibility and resilience.
  • Objective 2 – Identify the morphological and cellular basis of tissue resilience to root breakage and bruising
  • Objective 3 – Study the effect of environmental factors on tissue resilience
  • Objective 4 – Study the effect of nutrient status during growth on tissue resilience
  • Objective 5 – To engage with the British Sugar Beet industry and transfer findings to a wide audience

The student will receive training in post-harvest physiology, agronomy, soil and crop assessments and statistical analyses as well as experience of the technical challenges of commercial crop production.

Applications should be made through the HAU website: where further details of the project can also be found.

The deadline for uploading completed applications is 5 pm UK time on Friday, 4 May 2018.

Further information can be found on the HAU website at and on the research training provided and PhD progression requirements in the Postgraduate Research Students Handbook at:

For informal enquiries on general aspects of research degrees at HAU, applicants may contact Mrs Viv Slann, Research Students Administrator ( For informal enquiries on the project, applicants may contact the Director of Studies Dr Jim Monaghan through the staff directory:

The studentship includes tuition, bench and writing up fees and a tax-free stipend at the current RCUK rate (£14,777 per annum).  The studentship will commence in October 2018.

All applicants must have a minimum of an upper second class UK honours degree, or equivalent, in Agriculture, Plant Biology, Environmental Studies or related sciences or an MSc degree in the same areas. Applicants are also expected to have some knowledge of field crop production systems. A good working knowledge of statistics and statistical analysis software is also required. 

A minimum level of competency in English is required. Where necessary, applicants need to be classed as an overall IELTS grade 6.0 with a minimum of 5.5 in each component.  Please see the following link with regard to English Language requirements:

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Midlands of England