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ESRC White Rose DTP Collaborative Studentship - Socio-Ecological Research To Understand the Potential Impacts of Alternative Protein Sources in the UK and Europe

University of Leeds - School of Earth and Environment

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Leeds
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: Awards provide fees and maintenance at standard UKRI Rates (£18,622 in Session 2023/24).
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 16th February 2024
Closes: 15th March 2024

Session 2024-25 - Closing Date 17:00 (UK time) 15 March 2024

Awards provide fees and maintenance at standard UKRI Rates (£18,622 in Session 2023/24). 

This fully funded project is a collaboration between the University of Leeds (Dr David Williams & Professor Nik Lomax) and the Good Food Institute (GFI) Europe

Reducing the consumption of animal products in wealthy countries and avoiding shifts to high-meat diets as economies develop is essential for mitigating major environmental and societal risks. However, attempts to reduce consumption face resistance due to social, cultural, economic and political ties to animal products and production systems.

Alternative proteins (APs)—defined as plant-based, cultivated and fermentation-made meat, eggs, dairy, and seafood—offer a possible solution. They have lower environmental impacts, offer public health benefits, and could be a highly scalable solution offering consumers continued access to familiar tastes and dishes.

However, the growth of APs has not been universally welcomed, being described as a technological solution failing to address the complex social, economic and cultural factors associated with food production and consumption. Further, the social, cultural, economic, and ecological transformations resulting from a widescale shift to APs are understudied.

This project will address the overarching question: “How will alternative proteins affect people and the environment in the UK and Europe over the coming decades?”. Underpinning this are three questions:

  • How are different APs likely to be accepted in different European contexts?
  • How could European demand for different proteins change up to 2050?
  • What would the social, economic, and environmental impacts of meeting this demand be?

This project will place a strong emphasis on tangible, easily communicable findings which can inform policy and industry development. The successful applicant will undertake a three-month virtual ‘Research in Practice’ placement with GFI Europe. 

Skills and training opportunities

You will have the opportunity to:

  • Develop interdisciplinary and mixed methods analysis skills and combine macro- and micro-economic models with projections of land-use change and detailed qualitative analyses.
  • Work at the cutting edge of a rapidly developing field. 
  • Work across academic and third-sector organisations at the science-policy interface.
  • Communicate with a range of academic and non-academic audiences.

Essential criteria 

  • Interest in and passion for sustainable food systems
  • Excellent undergraduate degree in a relevant subject 
  • Demonstrated quantitative skills
  • Excellent communication skills for both verbal and written communication

Desirable criteria

  • Familiarity with R or Python (or a similar programme / language)
  • Experience with large dataset manipulation (preferably social, economic, and environmental)
  • Qualitative analysis experience
  • Postgraduate degree/equivalent experience
  • Subject expertise, such as food systems and land use
  • Experience working with non-academic partners
  • Understanding of alternative proteins

Further information about how to apply, please contact the Admissions Team.

For more information on the project, please contact David Williams.

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