PhD Opportunities At Sheffield


Our PhD program in Adapting to the Challenges of a Changing Environment (ACCE) offers projects aligned with the grand challenges in environmental research: securing ecosystem services and environmental resources; predicting and mitigating impacts of climate change; understanding the dynamics of biodiversity; and mechanisms of evolutionary change.

This year we are offering 20 competition funded PhD projects, listed below,  with lead supervisor based at The University of Sheffield.

How to apply

Application for ACCE PhD projects is NOW OPEN

To apply for any of the studentships hosted by The University of Sheffield,  please complete an online application form

Online application
  • Please select ‘Standard PhD’ and the Name of the Department from which the title of the ACCE studentship is announced;
  • Fill in the Title of your desired project and the name(s) of the supervisors. (You can apply for more than one project to increase your chances to be nominated for an interview, but you can be interviewed for only one);
  • As a ‘Study term,’ – point out full-time or part-time PhDs depending on your wish;
  • The starting date of PhD will be the start of the next academic year- 1 Oct 2018;
  • Funding stage‘ on the form will be ‘project studentship‘.


The studentships are available to UK and EU nationals who meet the UK residency requirements.  Further information about eligibility you can find in RCUK Training Grant Guide.

Within equal opportunities principles and regulations, applications will be assessed in the light of a candidate’s ability to meet the required criteria. Students will be evaluated by application and by interview performance.


Fully funded for a minimum of 3.5 years, studentships cover: (i) a tax-free stipend at the standard Research Council rate of at least £14,553 per annum (subject to indexing), (ii) research costs, and (iii) tuition fees at the UK/EU rate. Studentship(s) are available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements.
Selection process: Shortlisting will take place as soon as possible after the closing date, and successful applicants will be notified promptly. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for an interview to be held at the University of Sheffield on 16 and 19 February 2018.

New PhD projects for the ACCE studentships starting in October 2018.

ACCE PhD Projects

Department of Animal and Plant Sciences

The evolution of symbiosis

Lead supervisor: Prof. Michael Brockhurst
Co-Supervisors: Dr Jamie Wood, Prof. Duncan Cameron, Dr Andrew Beckerman

Evolution and implications of sex determination diversity

Lead supervisor: Dr Alison Wright
Co-superviosrs: Prof Jon Slate, Prof Steve Paterson

Living in a changing world: genetics of the vulnerability to variability in diet

Lead supervisor: Dr Mirre Simons
Co-Supervisors: Dr Sean Sweeney

The evolutionary development of structural colour in tropical butterflies

Lead supervisor: Dr Nicola Nadeau
Co-Supervisors: Dr Gareth Fraser, Dr Andrew Parnell

The macroecology of biological traits in UK marine ecosystems

Lead supervisor: Dr Tom Webb
Co-Supervisors: Dr Andrew Hirst, Dr Michaela Schratzberger

Predicting and managing the recovery of tropical forests

Lead supervisor: Prof Rob Freckleton
Co-Supervisors: David Edwards

Adaptation and speciation: what is the role of chromosomal inversions?

Lead supervisor: Prof Roger Butlin
Co-Supervisors: Dr Ilik Saccheri

Evolutionary genomics of zebra finch supergenes

Lead supervisor: Professor Jon Slate
Co-Supervisors: Dr Alison Wright, Professor Steve Paterson

Understanding patterns of gene flow and local adaptation in a hybrid zone

Lead supervisor: Dr Kai Zeng
Co-Supervisors: Professor Jon Slate

Enhancing the soil carbon sink: towards defining and quantifying new stabilising mechanisms

Lead supervisor: Professor David Beerling FRS
Co-Supervisors: Dr Binoy Sarkar, Dr Claire Corkhill, Professor Mark Hodson

The macroevolutionary dynamics of interacting species

Lead supervisor: Dr Gavin Thomas
Co-Supervisors: Dr Pete Mayhew

Unpicking the demographic causes and consequences of individual differences

Lead supervisor: Dr Dylan Childs
Co-Supervisors: Prof Jon Slate, Prof Daniel Nussey

The late Silurian-early Devonian adaptive radiation (‘explosion’) of vascular plants

Lead supervisor: Prof Charles Wellman
Co-Supervisors: Dr Paul Kenrick, Dr John Richardson

You are what you eat: diet, cooperation and fitness in a tropical island bird

Lead supervisor: Prof Terry Burke
Co-Supervisors: Kirsten Henri, Dr Mirre Simons

Department of Geography

Role of biochar in building climate smart-soils through improved soil functions

Lead supervisor: Dr Manoj Menon
Co-Supervisors: Dr Sylvia Toet, Dr Paul Alexander, Dr Eleanor Webster, Dr Jill Edmondson

Life on ice: how do hydrology and biology drive glacial melting?

Lead supervisor: Dr Andrew McGonigle
Co-Supervisors: Dr David Rippin, Dr Joseph Cook, Dr Robert Bryant

Storage and release of legacy atmospheric pollutants from mountain glaciers

Lead supervisor: Dr Ann Rowan
Co-Supervisors: Dr David Rippin, Dr Emma Wharfe, Prof Andy Hodson, Dr Andrew Smith

Historical storminess in the North Sea from climate and sediment archives

Lead supervisor: Prof Mark Bateman
Co-Supervisors: Dr Julie Jones, Dr Neil Macdonald, Prof Roland Gehrels

Present and Future Water Resource Management in Ethiopian Rift Valley Lakes Basin

Lead supervisor: Dr Robert Bryant
Co-Supervisors: Prof Andrew Lowe, Prof Frances Cleaver

High magnitude rapid environmental change in Pleistocene Gibraltar reconstructed using dated sediment archives

Lead supervisor: Prof Ed Rhodes 
Co-Supervisors: Dr K Penkman

School of Mathematics and Statistics

How will climate change affect foraging decisions and the evolution of personalities in marine predators?

Lead supervisor: Dr Jonathan Potts
Co-Supervisors: Dr Samantha Patrick