In 2019, the SUPER consortium was formed after obtaining £5 million of funding from the UK Natural Environment Research Council, for its innovative Docutoral Training Partnership (DTP).
Recognising that individual ecosystems or geographical areas are parts of larger systems that must be studied together, the SUPER DTP has been designed to take a joined-up ‘Catchment to Coast’ approach to understanding our freshwater and marine environments, including their marginal habitats. From headland rivers to lowland regions, estuaries and into the shallow seas, our landscapes are subject to a range of environmental pressures whilst supporting stunning wildlife and providing major economic benefits.
Under the broad themes of environmental dynamics, biodiversity and challenged ecosystems, the topics of climate change, resource management, sustainable exploitation and blue growth, among others, are being investigated. The DTP brings together an interdisciplinary group of eager and talented young scientists to research aspects of aquaculture, fisheries management, ecosystem health, biodiversity and pollution control, and data management and predictive modelling. The students will be offered unparalleled opportunities to understand societal and environmental challenges and deliver science for the benefit of wider society with international implications.
From 2020, the £5 million award will fund between 60 and 90 PhD students over its 5 year lifespan. Professor David Paterson, Executive Director of MASTS and leader of the bid stated, ”This support from NERC is fantastic news, not only recognising the excellent training environment that Scotland can offer but it arrives at a critical time to support efforts to respond to the environmental challenges highlighted in the recent IPCC Climate Change report. We are looking forward to placing our best students in a position to learn and then develop the tools to understand and better manage ecosystems sustainably.”
The SUPER DTP consortium is made up of a well-established collaborative group of Scottish universities including St Andrews, Aberdeen, Edinburgh Napier, Heriot-Watt, Highlands and Islands, Stirling, Strathclyde and the West of Scotland – all partners have a history of cooperation and are members of the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS). The award of the SUPER DTP funding reflects the quality and reputation of the partner universities and their previous track records in environmental research. This grouping of Universities is further underpinned and supported by 40 stakeholder organisations from Industry to governmental and includes international partners. The SUPER DTP consortium is being managed by MASTS, based at the University of St Andrews.
The DTP provides additional support and training through its SUPER Post Graduate Researcher Professional Development Certificate (PG Cert.), a specially designed qualification that, alongside their doctoral training, will ensure that SUPER DTP students stand out and formalise the breadth of experience that doctoral training can deliver for both the student and wider society. Dr Emma Defew, Deputy Dean of the MASTS Graduate School, said: “I am pleased by the success of our bid, and look forward to recruiting the first cohort of students next year. The SUPER DTP will offer students a wealth of opportunities to pursue research, engage in training, and to learn from each other as part of a large multi-disciplinary group. Research and training will be linked to the needs to environmental regulators and industry. The SUPER DTP will help to foster a new generation of PhD students equipped to take on diverse careers and become future leaders to manage our marine and freshwater environments more sustainably ”.
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