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The University of Southampton

Southampton to help provide vital food security research

Published: 25 January 2012
David Willetts
David Willetts launching the DTPs. Photograph provided courtesy of the University of Reading

The University of Southampton has joined together with four other institutions to provide vital research in food security as part of the new Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTP) scheme, announced by the Universities and Science Minister David Willetts.

The initiative, which is funded by the Biotechnology and Biosciences Research Council (BBSRC), will build on the excellent research training offered by universities and foster greater sharing of good practice to ensure the next generation of bioscientists develop the skills that the UK needs.

The University of Southampton is part of the consortium with the universities of Reading, Surrey and Lancaster and Rothamsted Research. The consortium has been awarded approximately £1.8 million for 18 PhD students who will address the challenges of feeding the globe's population healthily and in a sustainable way.

The DTP funding allows institutions to recruit the best students and secure additional funding from other sources, such as industry or charities to increase the impact of public investment. The University of Southampton and partners are matching the BBSRC investment from its own budgets to increase the number of PhD students that will be trained under the programme.

Professor Guy Poppy, Director of Multidisciplinary Research at the University of Southampton who led the bid from Southampton , says: “Food security requires multidisciplinary research and the breadth of coverage required and research approach to addressing food security is a good example of what Southampton can do well, especially when in collaboration with other institutions.”

Speaking at the launch of the initiative at the University of Reading, Mr Willetts said: “The announcement of this forward-thinking DTP programme is good news for research organisations and PhD students, as well as for industry and the UK as a whole. In the future the brightest minds will be setting about finding solutions to some of the biggest global challenges facing us all, from food security through to renewable energy.

“This partnership approach means that many institutions are combining their strengths to provide students with an improved training experience, which will better equip them for their future career, be it in academic research, industry or elsewhere.”

The University of Southampton is breaking new ground in food security research and is able to offer expertise across a range of disciplines from engineering to international relations to build a world-class research programme around the critical global risks and insecurities which will shape the 21st century world.

Celia Caulcott, BBSRC Director of Innovation and Skills, adds: “We believe that this approach is a great way of doing things, enabling us to support the very best students working in the most important areas from food security through to crucial underpinning bioscience. DTPs are all about training researchers to be the best they can be. By doing this we can make real inroads into answering global conundrums which will ultimately have a massive impact on the UK economy and further afield.”

The overall investment includes support for 14 Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs) across the UK as well as a number of industrial CASE (iCASE) studentship awards. Over the next three years, the DTPs will support 660 four-year PhD students. In addition the iCASE studentships will support 70 postgraduates from this autumn. Both programmes will provide highly skilled scientists for academia, policy and industry and support the BBSRC mission to further scientific knowledge for economic growth, wealth and job creation - improving the quality of life in the UK and beyond.

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