Advanced Research and Innovation in the Environmental Sciences


The University of Kent is proud to be part of the Advanced Research and Innovation in the Environmental Sciences (ARIES) Doctoral Training Partnership which is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).   ARIES will equip the next generation of environmental scientists with the knowledge and tools to better understand and manage our planet by:

  • Developing multiple cohorts of scientists with advanced skills and knowledge, multidisciplinary outlooks, and substantial potential to operate successfully across all postgraduate career options;
  • Assembling a diverse and integrated training partnership that enables our PGRs to address priority topics in environmental sciences through cutting-edge and world-leading research;
  • Training all of our PGRs to understand modern methods of data management, interrogation, analysis, and presentation; from bioinformatics to artificial intelligence;
  • Ensuring our graduates engage with the interfaces between environmental science and societal needs by growing their ability to achieve non-academic impact and effective public engagement.


ARIES  is  built  upon  scientific  excellence  within  five  overlapping  research  themes, click on a theme below for more information:  

  1. Ecology and Biodiversity 
  2. Marine, Atmospheric and Climate Science 
  3. Geosciences, Resources and Environmental Risk 
  4. Environmental Genomics and Microbiology
  5. Agri-environments and Water

Studentship projects for the 2022/23 competition are listed below. 

Deadline for applications: Wed 11 Jan midnight

  • The ARIES studentships cover fees, stipend (£17,668 p.a. for 2022-23), training allowance and research funding.
  • International applicants (EU and non-EU) are eligible for fully-funded UKRI studentships. 
  • All ARIES studentships may be undertaken on a part-time or full-time basis, visa requirements notwithstanding.
  • 2022/23 projects will start on 1st October 2023. 


Being part of the research community has helped me gain a number of new skills, particularly within the statistical programming language of R.

Kent studentship project

Coconut & conservation: environmental and social sustainability of coconut farming in tropical countries - Dr Matthew Struebig

Coconut farming contributes to the livelihoods of millions of people in tropical countries, but rarely features in discussions about biodiversity threats or sustainability. Preliminary work identified coconut as a crop with potentially significant impacts on wildlife because palms are mainly grown on tropical islands and/or coastal areas with high levels of species diversity and endemism (Meijaard 2020a). While coconut is generally grown at smallholder scales, cumulative areas are vast. Yet, compared to other tropical crops such as oil palm, very little is known about coconut’s roles in deforestation and biodiversity loss, or livelihoods and human well-being (Meijaard 2020b; Santika 2021). 

Kent studentship project

Integrating science and practice for macaw reintroduction biology and conservation - Dr Jake Bicknell   

Deforestation in Central and South America, driven mainly by agriculture, has caused the endangerment of many species, some of which are fundamental to large-scale habitat protection. The Critically-Endangered Great Green Macaw is one of the World’s largest parrots with a vast range spanning six countries making it a flagship of Central/South American biodiversity. This species exemplifies the threat of habitat loss but also holds the key to driving regional/international landscape-level biodiversity conservation.

Reintroduction science has attracted renewed attention given the recent global focus on ‘rewilding’. However, data to inform methods for large Psittaciformes is under-developed, and it is increasingly evident that successful reintroductions of wide-ranging species require strong support from, and tangible benefits for local communities.

Kent studentship project

Restoring biodiversity and functional connectivity in Sumatra’s community managed forests - Dr Matthew Struebig   

Land-use change and resource extraction continue to impact tropical forests, bringing negative consequences for biodiversity and ecological functions. The UN Decade on Restoration seeks positive outcomes in these degraded forests for biodiversity, climate change and people. However, this ‘triple win’ will be hard to achieve due to several ongoing challenges.

The immense ecological challenges of restoration aside, interventions are plagued by insufficient monitoring data, making it difficult to evaluate whether long-term environmental benefits can be achieved. The time, expertise and personnel required to monitor forests and biodiversity using conventional methods are too high to be cost-effective. 

While remote sensing technologies have greatly improved forest monitoring, technological applications to facilitate biodiversity monitoring in tropical countries have yet to be fully investigated in restoration settings. Biodiversity is often assumed to simply return after habitats are restored, with very little supporting evidence – the so called ‘field of dreams’ hypothesis.     

Kent Studentship Project

Role of marine ornamental fisheries in achieving net positive outcomes for nature and people - Dr David Roberts

Ornamental fisheries has a global value of $15-20 billion pa and support some of the poorest communities around the world. If managed well, ornamental fisheries can provide livelihoods that have low environmental impact and promote the conservation of threatened habitats through disincentivising environmentally damaging income streams (S Zehev & Vera, 2015). The trade in marine ornamental fish is coming under ever greater scrutiny, with workshops planned by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and growing interest in sustainable use of our oceans. With ornamental fisheries increasingly featuring on the CITES agenda, there is a need to better understand the ways sustainable ornamental fisheries could contribute to ecosystem conservation while enabling socio-economic development.  

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Hear from a NERC-funded PhD student

Find out how ARIES has supported his research