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. 

Applications are now closed. 

  • The ARIES studentships cover fees, stipend (£15,609 p.a. for 2021-22), 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.


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

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Hear from a NERC-funded PhD student

Find out how ARIES has supported his research

Kent studentship project

Assessing the ecological impacts of non-native gamebird release on reptiles in the UK - Professor Jim Groombridge

Each year, 57 million non-native gamebirds are released into the UK countryside for recreational shooting. This number vastly exceeds any other gamebird release in Europe or North America, with released Ring-necked pheasant and red-legged partridge representing more than twice the biomass of all native UK breeding birds combined. The increasing number of gamebirds released in the UK has triggered questions about the ecological impacts of this activity amongst conservationists, policymakers and within the shooting community itself. While there is evidence that game estate management can benefit biodiversity, questions remain about potential ecological impacts of gamebird release on native fauna and flora. Anecdotal evidence suggests that gamebird release may be having negative impacts on protected species of reptile, but conclusive studies are lacking. Understanding the impacts of large-scale releases of gamebirds represents a major challenge.  

Kent studentship project

Understanding the role of different types of conservation area in meeting global biodiversity protection targets - Professor Bob Smith 

Conservation areas are vital for conserving nature (Golden Kroner et al, 2019) but research on their effectiveness typically only focuses on state-managed protected areas (Butchart et al, 2015). This is changing, with case-studies showing that privately- and community-managed conservation areas can play a key role. However, we lack spatial data (e.g., accurate locations, boundaries) on these non-state conservation areas, so cannot fully understand how they contribute to conserving global biodiversity. Collecting such data for every country is a long-term process (Bingham et al, 2019), so DICE-led research has developed a new sampling methodology based on a representative subset of countries. This studentship will test and refine this new approach, collecting additional data and testing hypotheses to better understand how different types of conservation area help meet global targets for landscape connectivity and biodiversity representation.  

Kent studentship project

Spatio-temporal models for large sets of citizen science data to inform conservation policy for UK Lepidoptera - Dr Eleni Matechou

At a time of biodiversity loss, including widely reported insect declines, citizen science data play a vital role in measuring changes in species’ populations and distributions and in seeking to understand the pressures influencing such changes. Lepidoptera respond quickly to habitat and climatic change, and hence are valuable biodiversity indicators. In the UK, millions of species occurrence records for Lepidoptera have been gathered by two large citizen science recording schemes, of which the full potential has not been fully realized. Analysing recording data of this nature presents unique challenges relating to their vast quantity but also associated sampling biases. Using cutting edge modelling, this project will maximise these valuable datasets to enhance our understanding of species’ phenology (flight periods), distribution and range dynamics to help inform future conservation delivery and policy for UK butterflies and moths.