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Queen's collaboration receives £5M to enable 100 doctoral students

Queens University Belfast and The University of Aberdeen are bringing together their environmental research and teaching centres of excellence to deliver a unique PhD opportunity for 100 students.

The students will be based both in the School of Natural and Built Environment and School of Biological Sciences. 

The two universities will officially launch the programme, Queen's University Belfast & University of Aberdeen Doctoral Research and Training (QUADRAT), at an event in Edinburgh this week (Wednesday, November 21).

The partnership has received £5M from the Natural Environment Research Council matched by the universities to create the posts, which will equip students with the skills, outlook, purpose and holistic understanding to lead, communicate and translate innovative cross-disciplinary research that meets the challenges associated with the sustainable management of the natural environment.

Dr Jennifer McKinley, Reader from the School of Natural and Built Environment at Queen’s University Belfast commented: “Queen’s University is delighted to work in partnership with the University of Aberdeen and NERC to deliver this unique PhD opportunity for 100 students here in Belfast and Aberdeen. We are well placed to embrace and champion the sustainable development goals embedded in NERC throughout research objectives, training and partnerships both within the UK and internationally.”

Professor Mark Emmerson, Professor from the School of Biological Sciences at Queen’s University Belfast said: “Queen’s is committed to tackling global challenges.  Managing sustainability is one of the most challenging and rapidly growing areas in both the public and private sectors. This partnership initiative with Aberdeen and NERC will improve both interdisciplinary academic training and research to enable the next generation of world leading scientists to work with industry and policy makers to shape their goals, and, ultimately drive towards positive environmental change.”

Successful applicants will receive “T-shaped” training, whereby they develop disciplinary excellence around a specific research project but also gain a breadth of knowledge and a diverse, transferable skills base to ensure that they are competitive as research leaders across a range of career paths, be that inside or outside science or academia.

Professor Graeme Paton, Head of the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Aberdeen, said: “I am delighted that NERC has awarded ourselves and Queen's University Belfast the opportunity to develop these PhDs, which will enable us to position our graduates as the next generation of scientific leaders in academia, industry and policy development.

“It is no longer the case that the majority of PhD candidates go on to pursue a career in academia, and QUADRAT has been developed to address this – we will ensure that our PhD candidates are as equipped for a broad range of career paths.

“By bringing together our world class expertise, this partnership will offer candidates the opportunity to carry out studies which fit into several themes – Environmental Management, Biodiversity and Earth Systems.”


Media inquiries to Sian Devlin at Queen’s Communications Office on: or tel: 028 9097 5292.