Soil as a core infrastructure to support catchment and water supply resilience PhD

Cranfield, Bedford
26 May 2021
30 Jun 2021
Contract Type
Full Time

Enhanced funded opportunity: Soil as a core infrastructure to support catchment and water supply resilience PhD

This thrilling fully funded four-year PhD will combine field experiments, laboratory analyses and modelling work to deliver insights into the efficacy of soil management interventions to promote soil profile to aquifer connectivity and nutrient retention across a range of crop rotation and field-scale contexts and their impacts at a catchment scale. Close collaboration with Affinity Water will allow the research outputs to support better informed investments in soil management to relieve the pressure on their water supply and treatment infrastructures. Developing this knowledge base and quantitative evidence could also inform the development of intervention options within forthcoming Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMs) and delivery of the 25 Year Environment Plan. Upon successful application, you will be part of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Water Infrastructure and Resilience (WIRe), a world leading collaboration between Cranfield University, University of Sheffield and Newcastle University. The WIRe programme includes bespoke training in technical and personal skills development, and provides opportunities for research placements and access to world leading experimental facilities. Therefore, this PhD will help you develop into a highly competent researcher with a range of transferable skills (communication, project management and leadership), a solid national and international network, and advanced knowledge to support the implementation of key environmental policies. This will provide you with a privileged position from which to launch a highly successful career in the water sector, either in academia, consultancy or industry.


The Water Infrastructure and Resilience Centre for Doctoral Training (WIRe CDT) is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and companies who sponsor research projects to train 60 PhD students to deliver a resilient water future.

Globally, one in four cities is facing water stress, and the projected demand for water in 2050 is set to increase by 55%. Placing an inspirational student experience at the centre of our delivery model, the Water Infrastructure and Resilience Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) will nurture a new generation of research leaders to provide the multi-disciplinary, disruptive thinking to enhance the resilience of new and existing water infrastructure. In this context, the CDT will seek to improve the resilience of water infrastructure which conveys and treats water and wastewater as well as the impacts of water on other infrastructure systems which provide vital public services in urban environments.

The need for the CDT is simple: water infrastructure is fundamental to our society and economy in providing benefit from water as a vital resource and in managing risks from water hazards, such as wastewater, floods, droughts and environmental pollution. Recent water infrastructure failures caused by climate change have provided strong reminders of our need to manage these assets against the forces of nature. The need for resilient water systems has never been greater and more recognised in the context of our industrial infrastructure networks and facilities for water supply, wastewater treatment and urban drainage. Similarly, safeguarding critical infrastructure in key sectors such as transport, energy and waste from the impacts of water has never been more important.

Centred around unique and world-leading water infrastructure facilities, and building on an internationally-renowned research consortium (Cranfield University, the University of Sheffield and Newcastle University), the CDT will produce scientists and engineers to deliver the innovative and disruptive thinking for a resilient water infrastructure future. This will be achieved through delivery of an inspirational and relevant and end user-led training programme for researchers.

Being a PhD student in the WIRe programme is a special and unique experience, offering opportunities beyond most doctoral training. In return you will need to be fully committed to the CDT, attending an induction semester at Cranfield University, a transferable skills programme and a Summer Challenge. 

Our partners are drawn from a range of leading sector and professional organisations and have been selected to provide targeted contributions and added value to the CDT.


Entry requirements:

Applicants should have:

  • A first or upper second-class UK honours MSc degree, or equivalent, in geomorphology, soil or hydrological sciences.
  • A full-UK driving license is essential.
  • Experience in process-based modelling of soil-water processes is highly valued (not essential).
  • Previous experience of establishing and monitoring field trials (not essential).
  • Excellent communication skills for regular interaction with industrial sponsors, farmers and supervisors.
  • Be self-motivated and with an interest in applied scientific research.

We particularly welcome applications from diverse and under-represented backgrounds and can offer flexible working arrangements.

Start date: 27 Sep 2021

Application deadline: 30 Jun 2021

Duration of award: 4 years

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