Doctoral Training Partnerships

ARIES: Advanced Research and Innovation in the Environmental Sciences

ARIES (Advanced Research and Innovation in the Environmental Sciences) is a Doctoral Training Partnership with the mission “to train postgraduate research students with excellent potential from across society, equipping them with the necessary skills to become 21st Century Scientists: leaders in the science and sustainable business of the natural environment.”

ARIES is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and is an extensive world-class partnership integrating 59 partners from universities, research institutes and end users. ARIES is built upon scientific excellence within five overlapping research themes:

  • Ecology and biodiversity
  • Marine, atmospheric and climate science
  • Geosciences, resources and environmental Risk
  • Environmental genomics and microbiology
  • Agri-environments and water

2023 studentships - now closed for entry

Project title Academic staff 
Studying relationships at biological interfaces through directed assembly of marine biofilm communities  Dr Nick Aldred (University of Essex, School of Life Sciences), Professor Terry McGenity (University of Essex, School of Life Sciences), Dr Phillippe Laissue (University of Essex, School of Life Sciences), Dr Mette Burmølle (University of Copenhagen, Department of Biology) 
Migration, movement and the effects of hunting on birds in a changing world  Dr Tom Cameron (University of Essex, School of Life Sciences), Dr James Gilroy (School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia), Dr Matt Ellis (CASE) (British Association for Shooting and Conservation), Dr Chas Holt (Kent Wildlife Trust and Independent Ornithologist and Abberton Reservoir) 
Cryptic microbial hydrocarbon cycling in the ocean  Professor Terry McGenity (University of Essex, School of Life Sciences), Dr Boyd A McKew (University of Essex, School of Life Sciences), Dr David Lea Smith (UEA, School of Biological Sciences), Dr Nikolai Pedentchouk (UEA, School of Environmental Sciences) 
Understanding coral connectivity and its drivers across the Indian Ocean (CASE studentship with ZSL) Dr Michelle Taylor (University of Essex, School of Life Sciences), Dr Catherine Head (Institute of Zoology, London, and University of Oxford), Professor Leanne Hepburn (University of Essex, School of Life Sciences), Professor Stephen Monismith (Stanford) 
Aiming for nature recovery: data science to inform biodiversity conservation and restoration  Dr Martin Wilkes (University of Essex, School of Life Sciences), Dr Kyle Jerro (University of Essex, Department of Language and Linguistics), Dr Joe Cooper (British Trust for Ornithology), Dr Cecilia Larrosa (Biodiversify) 


ARIES studentships are funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), which applies the eligibility criteria laid down by its parent body, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). These are outlined in their Terms and Conditions of Training Grants document, and given in more detail in their Training Grant Guide (Annex 1), both of which can be found on the UKRI website.

UKRI announced that international students will be eligible for all UKRI-funded postgraduate studentships from the start of the 2021-22 academic year. UKRI will normally limit the proportion of international students appointed each year through individual doctoral training programmes to 30% of the total.

All UKRI-funded PhD students (UK, EU, International) will be eligible for the full award – both the stipend to support living costs, and fees at research organisations UK rate. UKRI funding will not cover international fees set by universities, but all ARIES partners have agreed to fund the top-up from UK to international fees. ARIES funding will not cover costs associated with visa or health surcharges, or additional costs associated with entry to, and living in the UK.

In case of uncertainty, please email

How to apply

This studentship competition is now closed for applications for October 2023.  Please check back in October 2023 for details of the studentship competition for October 2024.


ARIES students benefit from bespoke graduate training and ARIES provides £2,500 to every student for access to external training, travel and conferences. Full details regarding the training provision available can be found here.

As well as ARIES opportunities, you can also benefit from Proficio, our University's unique professional development scheme for doctoral students. You receive up to £2,500 during your studies to fund specialist training across a range of areas from research skills and managing a PhD, to presenting work and getting published.

ARIES also offers advanced training courses to other PhD students at partner universities. Students don't need to be in receipt of a studentship to participate.

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Supervisory team