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

The application process for 2024/25 studentship projects has now closed

  • The ARIES studentships cover fees, stipend (£18,622 p.a. for 23-24, new rates to be announced in May), training allowance and research funding.
  • All ARIES studentships may be undertaken on a part-time or full-time basis, visa requirements notwithstanding.
  • International applicants are eligible but please note that the funding does not cover additional costs associated with relocation to, and living, in the UK. 
  • Please note that all international awards have been made for our programme for 2023 so we will not be accepting applications from international candidates, as defined by UKRI’s guidance on International Eligibility criteria for UKRI funded studentships – View Website     
  • 2024/25 projects will start on 1st October 2024. 

Deadline for applications: the deadline for 2024/25 has now passed.

Kent studentship project

Restoring tropical biodiversity, carbon stores and forest integrity through ecosystem restoration licences - Professor Zoe Davies

Deforestation and forest degradation are key causes of carbon emissions and biodiversity decline in tropical countries. Tackling these challenges requires innovative ways to manage disturbed habitats. Ecosystem restoration licenses (ERLs) offer a commercial mechanism through which degraded forest can be restored back to ecological equilibrium. Pioneered by Indonesia, ERLs could herald an era of improved forest management across the tropics. Nonetheless, key questions remain regarding their effectiveness.  

RSPB's Harapan Rainforest restoration project in Sumatra provides an excellent case study, as the first ERL in Indonesia operating for 95-years. This PhD will examine the likely effectiveness of ERLs in achieving positive ecological outcomes (e.g. carbon storage, biodiversity and forest regeneration) and how best to finance these objectives at Harapan.  

Kent studentship project

Genomic analysis of extinction risk in birds - Professor Jim Groombridge    

Understanding predictors of extinction risk is crucial to address the global biodiversity crisis. Whilst ecological predictors of extinction are well-known, the impact of genomic diversity is less-well understood. Reference genomes and resequencing data for many hundreds of species have become available to guide conservation, and the next challenge is to integrate these data with detailed ecological data and IUCN Red List of these species. 

This PhD project will (i) identify and study genome features that can predict extinction risk across two well-studied groups of birds, parrots (Psittaciformes, 421 species) and falcons (Falconiformes, 66 species), and (ii) test whether immunogenomic diversity (and other genomic features) can predict species-specific differences in susceptibility to two viruses that are emerging infectious diseases. 

The parrots and falcons share a recent evolutionary history and yet comprise the full range of Red List status, from non-threatened to extinct species, as well as highly invasive species. In this PhD studentship we ask the question what makes species vulnerable to extinction, and what makes others such successful invaders? Furthermore, each group of birds harbours a well-documented viral pathogen; Beak and Feather Disease Virus (BFDV) in Psittaciformes and Falcon adenovirus in Falconiformes. Closely related species differ markedly in their susceptibility to these viruses (i.e., mortality rate), and the PhD student will determine what underpins these differences.   

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Hear from a NERC-funded PhD student

Find out how ARIES has supported his research