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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

Geography in major new NERC Doctoral Training Programme (SPITFIRE)

Published: 6 November 2013

The Minister for Universities and Science, the Rt Hon David Willets MP, today announced a major investment by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) for a University of Southampton-led project to train the geographers and environmental scientists of the future.

The Southampton Partnership for Innovative Training of Future Investigators Researching the Environment (SPITFIRE) was confirmed as one of 15 Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs), which will receive £100 million funding to provide training for PhD students within subject areas including Geography and Environment, Ocean and Earth Science and Engineering.

Science and Universities minister David Willetts said: “This significant investment highlights the Government’s commitment to supporting postgraduate training and research in the environmental sciences. We're dedicated to providing the next generation of environmental researchers with the necessary skills and training to succeed in academia and industry.

“The strong support for this programme from a number of international partners such as BP, Microsoft and Arup is enormously encouraging. Not only will this initiative benefit students, UK research organisations, business, industry and the economy, it will keep us at the forefront of the global science race.”

SPITFIRE, led by the University of Southampton together with hosting research organisations: the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (NOCS), British Antarctic Survey, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Natural History Museum, Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, Marine Biological Association, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science and HR Wallingford, will establish an innovative multidisciplinary training environment for the next generation of leaders in the environmental sciences.

The SPITFIRE DTP will draw together the breadth of natural environment research across the University of Southampton in multiple disciplines such as Geography, Environmental Science and Oceanography, and strengthen links with its prestigious research partners.

Professor Don Nutbeam, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Southampton, said “We are delighted to be one of DTPs chosen by NERC and are already looking forward to working with our partners in the delivery of innovative new training experience for our PhD students.”

Professor Norman MacLeod, of the Natural History Museum says, “SPITFIRE will greatly increase joint PhD research between the partner organisations and provide a catalyst for the development of new multidisciplinary science initiatives”.

Professor David Sear said, “This is a fantastic opportunity for the best students to be trained to become the environmental science leaders of the 21st Century, hosted within a world class institution with access to excellent research facilities and a community of like-minded graduates. The provision for high quality training and access to a range of partners ensures graduates applying for positions within the DTP will be supported in making that step towards research leadership.”

SPITFIRE Partnership
National Oceanography Centre
Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
HR Wallingford
Plymouth Marine Laboratory


The Southampton Partnership for Innovative Training of Future Investigators Researching the Environment (SPITFIRE)

Natural History Museum
British Antarctic Survey
The Marine Biological Association
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