Confronting a masculine military ideal: the experiences of LGBTQ service personnel 1914–now

AHRC PhD Studentship in collaboration with Imperial War Museums (IWM) and Birkbeck

Applications are invited for an AHRC-funded PhD at Birkbeck: “Confronting a masculine military ideal: the experiences of LGBTQ service personnel 1914–now”. This is offered under the AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership programme. The partner institutions are Birkbeck and the IWM. The studentship will be supervised by Professor Matt Cook at Birkbeck and Rebecca Newell of IWM. This full-time studentship, which is funded for three years at standard AHRC rates, will begin on 1 October 2018.

The Studentship

Using material from across the IWM’s collection, including the sound collection, and with a particular focus on the museum’s private papers and oral history archives, this project will examine narratives of LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer/Questioning) experience in the military for all or part of the period from 1914 to the present day.

Fifty years ago there was a watershed moment in British history. The 1967 Sexual Offences Act partially decriminalised same-sex acts between men in England and Wales. However, policy makers in the armed forces agreed that decriminalising such acts in the military would affect discipline and threaten the safety of low-ranking servicemen. As a result they remained punishable by military law, even though they ceased to be illegal for consenting civilian men over 21. For three decades the MOD stood by its decision – creating a climate of secrecy for queer service personnel and the impression of a rather straight military. Fear of dismissal and condemnation prevented most from sharing their experiences. Only recently, as the law and cultural climate have changed, have some have felt able to be franker. Their stories are nevertheless still often modulated by an entrenched culture of discretion and framed by current understandings of liberation and sexual identity. We anticipate that these testimonies – and the complexities of gathering and analysing them – will be at the heart of this project.

New British Army Recruitment Campaign Tells Recruits ‘It’s Okay To Be Gay’ – January 2018

The student will explore existing testimonies and conduct new interviews exploring experiences and perceptions of being LGBTQ in the forces. They will also engage with historical work and ongoing debate about sex, sexuality and gender in the military and draw on expertise offered by the IWM and its partners. Aside from a doctoral thesis and associated publications, it is anticipated that research will feed into a future IWM public programme season on sex and war.

In discussion with their supervisors, the student will be responsible for formulating their research questions and methodology and for defining the period of investigation. Potential areas include:
• Accepted and hidden same-sex and homosocial experiences in wartime;
• The impact of serving in the armed forces on individuals’ sense of identity;
• The differential experience and/or representation of homosexuality in the army, navy and airforce;
• Gender crossings and the experience of trans people in the military;
• A comparison of the experiences of queer men and women;
• Masculinity, femininity and queerness in the forces;
• Narratives and experiences of sanction, tolerance, degeneracy, ‘passing’ and prejudice;
• Military sites/cities and associated local queer networks
• The role and responsibility of museums and IWM as a space and forum for excavating LGBTQ narratives.

These, and/or other questions, will be explored through a range of archives, including at the IWM, The National Archives, the National Maritime Museum, the National Army Museum and Tate, as well as through interviews with current and former service personnel gathered as part of the project.

Subject to AHRC eligibility criteria, the scholarships cover tuition fees and a grant (stipend) towards living expenses. The national minimum doctoral stipend for 2018/19 has been set by Research Councils UK as £ 16,777 (inc. £2,000 London Weighting) plus £550 additional payment for Collaborative Doctoral Students. For more information visit: http://www.ahrc.ac.uk/skills/phdstudents/fundingandtraining.
Students are also eligible to draw additional funding from a Student Development Fund to support the cost of training, work placements, and other development opportunities that will benefit the student’s doctoral research and future career development.
In addition, the student is eligible to receive up to £1,000 a year from IWM and will be able to apply for internal funding from the University to support archival visits and the delivery of academic conference papers.

How to Apply

Applicants should have a good undergraduate degree in history or another relevant discipline, and will normally also hold a masters degree. They will need to satisfy AHRC eligibility requirements including Masters-level advanced research training or equivalent.
Applicants must be a resident of the UK or European Economic Area (EEA). In general, full studentships are available to students who are settled in the UK and have been ordinarily resident for a period of at least three years before the start of postgraduate studies. Fees-only awards are generally available to EU nationals resident in the EEA. International applicants are normally not eligible to apply for this studentship.
Applicants should submit via email a curriculum vitae (no more than 2 pages), a research proposal (of 500 – 1000 words)*, a sample of writing, a brief letter outlining their qualification for the studentship, transcripts of undergraduate and masters qualifications, and two academic references to Sian Green (sian.green@bbk.ac.uk) no later than 5pm on Sunday 8 July 2018 . Please note it is the responsibility of applicants to request references from their referees and ensure that they have been received by the Department of History by this deadline. All documents should be submitted in either a MS Word or PDF format. Please ensure the subject line of your email appears as ‘surname, first name – IWM/Birkbeck studentship.’

*for guidance on formulating a research proposal see: http://www.bbk.ac.uk/student-services/admissions/phd-applications

AHRC-funded PhD studentship

AHRC-funded PhD studentship: Confronting a masculine military ideal: the experiences of LGBTQ service personnel 1914–now

This AHRC PhD Studentship is in Collaboration with Imperial War Museums (IWM) under the AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership programme. The partner institutions are Birkbeck and the IWM.

The studentship will be supervised by Professor Matt Cook at Birkbeck and Rebecca Newell of IWM. This full-time studentship, which is funded for three years at standard AHRC rates, will begin on 1 October 2018.

Using material from across the IWM’s collection, including the sound collection, and with a particular focus on the museum’s private papers and oral history archives, this project will examine narratives of LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer/Questioning) experience in the military for all or part of the period from 1914 to the present day.

Subject to AHRC eligibility criteria, the scholarships cover tuition fees and a grant (stipend) towards living expenses.

Deadline to apply: 8 July 2018

‘Waiting Times’ Wellcome Trust funded PhD Studentship available

‘Waiting Times’ Wellcome Trust funded PhD Studentship

The Department of Psychosocial Studies has announced a fully-funded three-year doctoral studentship to work on ‘Waiting Times’. The project will be supervised by Dr. Lisa Baraitser and will begin in Autumn 2018.

About this ‘Waiting Times’ project

‘Waiting Times’ is funded by a Wellcome Trust Collaborative Research Award held by Dr. Lisa Baraitser (Birkbeck) and Professor Laura Salisbury (University of Exeter). Its remit is to investigate the relation between time and healthcare in the modern period. Spanning both Medical Humanities and Social Sciences, the project brings together and interdisciplinary team of eight researchers, to investigate waiting as a cultural and psychosocial concept, and an embodied and historical experience, in order to understand the temporalities of healthcare in the current climate of ‘crisis’ in the health service.

Under supervision, the successful candidate will devise and undertake a qualitative investigation of ‘watchful waiting’ as used by general practitioners as a practice of care. Data collection will take place across two GP practices in Hackney, London and Silverton, Devon.

Information for appLicants

Applications will be considered from candidates with an interest in qualitative research in health and social contexts, where an interest in issues of time and temporality can be demonstrated. All academic disciplines/backgrounds are eligible.

The studentship will consist of a fee waiver up to the value of the full-time home/EU rate for MPhil/PhD degrees, plus a studentship stipend based on current Wellcome Trust rates.

How to apply

To apply, prospective students are strongly advised to make informal contact with Dr. Lisa Baraitser (l.baraitser@bbk.ac.uk) prior to the deadline.

They should then send the completed Wellcome Studentship Application Form to l.baraitser@bbk.ac.uk with an expression of interest (no more than 1000 words) and a CV. The successful candidate will then be asked to apply for a full-time place on the MPhil/PhD in the Department of Psychosocial Studies.

  • Deadline for applications: February 12th, 2018
  • Interview date: Tuesday 27th February 2018
Further information

Further information about the Waiting Times project are available here.

Brief profiles of two MRC-funded Doctoral Training Programme students

       

Evgenia Markova and Laura Pokorny are PhD students who joined the UCL-Birkbeck MRC funded Doctoral Training Programme in Autumn 2016. PhD students on this programme complete rotation projects in year 1 before choosing and developing their PhD project. Both Evgenia and Laura are looking forward to increasing opportunities to engage with new intakes of students.

This post is part of a series about Doctoral Training Programmes which offer funded PhD studentships at Birkbeck. Many thanks to Laura and Evgenia for taking part.

Evgenia Markova

I obtained a BSc in Genetics from the University of York and during the course of my degree I completed summer internships in the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and in Genika, a genetic medico-diagnostic laboratory. It was at this point that I started considering a career in science, as I was surrounded by experts in their respective fields who warmly welcomed me into their research environment. I also completed a year-long placement in a biotechnology company, Heptares Therapeutics, where I discovered a passion for biochemistry and structural biology, which ultimately determined my choice of a PhD topic.

Rotation Projects (Year 1)

‘My choice of PhD project emerged through engagement with rotation projects which took my research in novel directions. This flexibility to develop and mould the final project has been a great opportunity.’

Rotation 1: My first rotation project ‘Structural elucidation of a component of the COPII secretion system’ was with Dr. Giulia Zanetti (ISMB, Birkbeck) where I encountered electron microscopy for the first time and obtained preliminary structural information on a component of the COPII secretion system.

Rotation 2: My second rotation ‘Age-dependent neuroinflammation in the brain of a Wnt signaling pathway mutant’ was with Dr. Patricia Salinas at the MRC LMCB and utilised immunofluorescence to study the time-dependent brain inflammation profile of a Wnt signalling pathway-defective mouse model.

Rotation 3: Finally, I spent my third rotation ‘Single-molecule fluorescence investigation of the COPII coat assembly’ in Dr. Alan Lowe’s lab in (ISMB, Birkbeck) where I studied the dynamics of an endoplasmic reticulum membrane model as remodelled by purified COPII proteins.

‘The ISMB has excellent facilities which provide access to structural biology and cryo-EM. It has been easy to move between facilities at Birkbeck and UCL as part of the jointly run ISMB.’

PhD Project: The Kinetics and Assembly of the COPII Secretion System (Year 2 onwards)

The intracellular trafficking of biomolecules is an essential property of eukaryotic systems. The COPII vesicular transport system is responsible for anterograde intracellular transport processes at the ER membrane, where COPII component-lined vesicles incorporate protein and lipid cargoes. My project aims to investigate the mechanisms of COPII budding and coat assembly, which are currently poorly characterised. I will study COPII assembly and dissociation using an established membrane model,

Giant Unilamellar Vesicles
Giant Unilamellar Vesicles, a common membrane model, as visualised through the incorporation of a fluorescent lipid into the mixture used for their formation.

Giant Unilamellar Vesicles (GUVs), and the mammalian COPII proteins, as expressed and purified from insect cell culture. I will utilise cryo-electron microscopy and single-molecule fluorescence in the study of the COPII coat assembly through in vitro reconstitution. My PhD supervisor is Dr Giulia Zanetti, ISMB, Birkbeck.

Laura Pokorny

I studied for an undergraduate degree in Biochemistry at the University of York. In the summer between my second and third year I carried out a 2 month research placement in Paul Pryor’s lab at the Centre for Immunology and Infection at the University of York, where I was identifying chlamydial effector proteins involved in disrupting the trafficking of the bacterium to the host lysosome. I really loved working in a research setting and this was when I realised I wanted to do a PhD and pursue a career in research.

Rotation projects (Year 1)

Rotation 1: My first rotation ‘Manipulation of Nuclear Function by Chlamydia trachomatis’ was in Dr Richard Hayward’s lab (ISMB, Birkbeck). Previous research in the Hayward lab had identified alterations in nuclear architecture during infection by C. trachomatis. Namely, the nuclear shape becomes distorted in infected cells, lamin A/C is decreased at the inclusion distal face of the nucleus, and there was a degradation of nucleoporins at the inclusion proximal face of the nucleus. I confirmed these findings by aiming to understand the mechanism underlying the lamin A/C decrease.

Chlamydial inclusions (green) and lamin A/C on the nucleus (red) of inclusions which are 48 hours post infection.

Caspase 6 is a candidate for the degredation of lamin A/C due to the fact that lamin A/C is degraded by caspase 6 during apoptosis. By treating infected cells with a drug which inhibits caspase 6, I was able to block the lamin A/C decrease in infected cells. This was shown by confocal microscopy and by western blot.

 

Rotation 2: My second rotation ‘A novel mechanism of targeting and transport of a P. falciparum protein down the secretory pathway’ was in Dr Andrew Osborne’s lab (ISMB, UCL).  The mechanism leading to protein transport, and in particular trans-membrane protein transport, in P. falciparum is not completely understood. Proteins destined for export must cross many membranes of the parasite before entering the host cell. Models have proposed whereby TM proteins are extracted from membranes at various stages of the secretory pathways and trafficked via chaperones (Papakrivos, Newbold and Lingelbach., 2005; Kneupfer et al., 2005; Gruring et al., 2012). However, the concept of pulling proteins out of membranes during protein export is unsupported outside the Plasmodium field. Recent work in the Osborne lab and others has provided evidence that the PNEP protein Pf332, which has a single TM domain, behaves in line with this extraction model. I used yeast as a model organism and showed that, when Pf332 is expressed in yeast, there is a subset of soluble protein. This suggests that the machinery needed to pull the protein out the membranes is conserved in eukaryotes. In this rotation I used techniques including western blotting, parasite culturing, cloning, and florescence microscopy.

Rotation 3: In my third rotation ‘Single-molecule studies of the molecular mechanisms of the nuclear pore complex during C. trachomatis infection’ in Dr Alan Lowe’s lab (ISMB, UCL) I used super-resolution microscopy to gain images of the nucleoporin degradation seen in my first rotation, and to learn more about the kinetics of importin-beta transport in the nucleus during infection. I used the technique of photoactivated localization microscopy (PALM). In short, PALM imaging uses the principle of stochastically activating, imaging and photobleaching photoswitchable fluorescent proteins in order to temporally separate closely spaced molecules (Betzig et al., 2006). The resolution achieved in PALM imaging is over an order of magnitude higher than the diffraction limit of light. By transfecting infected cells with importin-B (nuclear transport receptor) tagged to a photoswitchable fluorescent protein and imaging by PALM, we could gain a much higher resolution picture of the organisation of the nuclear pores, and could follow the kinetics of transport via single-particle tracking.

‘Working within the ISMB environment has been a great way to find out more about the work of other PhD students and staff through weekly presentations during term time known as Friday Wraps’

PhD project: Studying Vaccinia virus fusion using a minimal model system (Year 2 onwards)

Vaccinia virus (VACV) is the prototypical Poxvirus. Poxviruses enter cells by acid mediated fusion, using the most complicated virus fusion machinery identified. Whilst genetics indicates that poxvirus fusion relies on 12 viral proteins, to date the organisation of this machinery, its mechanism of fusion, its fusion peptide, and the structural and molecular details of poxvirus fusion remain a mystery. Therefore to address this lack in our knowledge, I aim to develop a new minimal model system to study VACV entry and fusion. This system will be amenable to super-resolution imaging studies allowing us an unprecedented view into the biological requirements of viral entry. My PhD supervisor is Dr Jason Mercer LMCB.

ESRC-funded PhD studentship opportunities at Birkbeck

ESRC PhD studentships at Birkbeck

Birkbeck is a member of the prestigious ESRC-funded UBEL Doctoral Training Partnership, which welcomed the first intake of students in October 2017.

Applications for entry in 2018/19 are currently open and prospective PhD students can apply for ESRC funding through any of the following UBEL Doctoral Training Partnership pathways. Studentships are offered on a full-time and part-basis, across a range of routes including opportunities to to complete attached Masters programmes.

  • Archaeology and heritage studies
  • Economic and social history
  • Economics
  • Gender and sexuality
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Human geography
  • Law and criminology
  • Linguistics
  • Politics and international relations
  • Psychology
  • Psychosocial studies
  • Sociology

Please note: The deadline for preliminary applications to the UBEL DTP is 9 January 2018, but some Birkbeck departments have internal deadlines earlier than this.

Wellcome Trust 4-year Interdisciplinary PhD Programme

Wt logo              ISMB logo

This brief profile of the Wellcome Trust 4 Year PhD Programme in Structural, Computational and Chemical Biology is part of a series looking at Doctoral Training Programmes which offer funded PhD studentships at Birkbeck. Many thanks to Dr Cara Vaughan (Programme Co-Director) for answering the following questions.

How would you describe this Wellcome Trust 4 year PhD programme?

This is a fantastic interdisciplinary program that enables students to experience three distinct yet synergistic fields, that together can lead to the most exciting developments in biomedical research. These are structural, molecular, cellular biology and biophysics, computational biology and chemical biology.

Which departments at Birkbeck are taking part in this PhD programme?

The Department of Biological sciences, part of the Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology (ISMB). The department forms a part of a diverse and interdisciplinary environment across the PhD programme and the ISMB.

What strengths does Birkbeck bring to this Doctoral Training Programme?

Research in the Department of Biological Sciences is world-class, with strengths in structural and computational biology.

 conserved mechanisms of microtubule-stimulated ADP release
The conserved mechanisms of microtubule-stimulated ADP release (Professor Carolyn Moores’s lab)

How is the programme structured?

The first year involves rotation projects in 3 different labs, each specialising in one of the 3 disciplines within the program. In addition, students attend both foundation and advanced lectures to strengthen their understanding in these fields. At the end of their first year students choose the project that will be the focus of the remainder of their PhD and spend the remaining 3 years affiliated with that lab answering exciting questions at the forefront of biomedical research. Further information about the programme structure is available on the WT PhD Programme webpages.

What kinds of resources and facilities are available to students who are offered a place on the programme?

The ISMB is extremely well-equipped with world-class instrumentation and research facilities in all three disciplines.

Anthony Roberts lab image
The dynein–Lis1 interface (Dr Anthony Roberts’s lab)

How are PhD students supported during their postgraduate research and in preparing for their careers after the PhD?

Students are supervised by senior scientists who are recognised at an international level in their chosen field, both during rotations and during the PhD project itself. They are exposed to a highly interdisciplinary environment through which they gain experience of working in a dynamic and challenging way. In addition to opportunities to undertake taught programmes across a range of ISMB disciplines students also take part in WT PhD programme activities including literature clubs, and gain experience in presenting their data. Students can attend career days, where PhD-qualified scientists working in non-academic environments give talks and meet students and they can also access professional development opportunities within Birkbeck and UCL.

What are the advantages for students taking part in this Wellcome Trust PhD programme?

Exposure to and involvement in some of the best biomedical research in the UK and interdisciplinary training which is shaping the future of biomedical research. Profiles of some of our PhD students are available.

Are there any features of supervision within the Wellcome Trust programme that you would like to highlight?

In addition to every student having a thesis committee that meets at regular intervals throughout the 4 years, the student also meets the program director/co-director to ensure that the project is on track, to resolve any issues early on and to ensure that the student has the best possible outcome form their PhD.

Cryo-electron tomogram
Cryo-electron tomograms of a reconstituted COPII budding reaction (Dr Giulia Zanetti’s lab)

How can students find out about potential projects and supervisors at Birkbeck?

A list of potential supervisors and example projects are available on our ISMB WT PhD Programme website.

How would you describe your role within this Wellcome Trust PhD programme?

As co-director I work closely with the director, Finn Werner, and the administrative support staff to ensure the smooth running of the program. This includes everything from sifting through applications to the program, to interviewing students, to a more pastoral role for students in the later years of their PhD.

What background and experience would successful applicants be able to demonstrate if they are interested in joining the programme?

This is a highly competitive program and successful students are exceptional. They should have an excellent degree in one of the disciplines in the program, or a related discipline, and hands on experience of working in a lab in one or two of these areas covered within the program.

What do students need to do to apply?

Students must follow instructions for applicants carefully. Student need to complete an online Graduate Student application form from UCL and submit a single document with a current CV and a statement explaining why they are a suitable candidate. They also need to provide details of 2 referees. Full instructions for applicants are available here.

Are there any key dates to be aware of?

  • The deadline for applications is 5 January 2018
  • The interview dates are 25 and 26 January 2018

A brief profile of the BBSRC LIDo PhD Programme with Dr Mark Williams

This brief profile of the BBSRC LIDo programme is one of a series of brief profiles looking at Doctoral Training Programmes offering funded PhD studentships at Birkbeck. Many thanks to Dr Mark Williams for answering the following questions.

How would you describe the ‘BBSRC LIDo PhD programme’?

The BBSRC-funded London Interdisciplinary Doctoral programme in Biosciences provides PhD training in areas that lie between traditional biological sciences subject areas or at the interface of biology with the physical or mathematical sciences.

Find out more about the Department of Psychological Sciences here.

LIDo is one of the largest Doctoral Training Programmes in the country; a collaboration between six of London’s world-class universities and specialist science institutions (Birkbeck, Kings, LSHTM, Queen Mary, RVC and UCL). Students on the programme have a wide range of scientific backgrounds (e.g. cell biology, chemistry, genetics, physics, engineering, psychology, neuroscience, biochemistry, mathematics, statistics) but a common interest in solving problems in the life sciences. The consortium provides these students with a unique opportunity to pursue innovative interdisciplinary and cross-institutional research projects in the heart of one of the world’s most vibrant cities.

Which departments at Birkbeck are taking part in this DTP?

The Department of Biological Sciences and the Department of Psychological Sciences

What strengths does Birkbeck bring to this Doctoral Training Programme?

Both Birkbeck departments are among the top ten university departments in the country in their subject area in terms of the quality of their research (REF 2014), and have a substantial profile of world class activity, particularly in structural biology and in understanding the processes of cognitive development.

How is the programme structured?

Crossed Legs Shut Down Molecular Motor Dynein. Find out more here.

It is a 4-year programme, based around projects that are proposed by a team of two (or more) supervisors from different disciplines. Around 40 studentships are available each year for students to undertake lab rotations in the first year with different supervisors in different institutions. Then, toward the end of their first year, they select their PhD project. They will subsequently be registered at their primary supervisor’s institution for their PhD. In addition, around 15 CASE projects are available each year that have an industrial co-sponsor. CASE students begin their PhD project right from the start and do not undertake rotations.

All students also undertake classroom training in the first year in computational modelling, statistics, aspects of biology driven commerce and ‘hot topics’ in biological research.

What kinds of resources and facilities are available to students who are offered a place on the programme?

Given the variety of the six institutions involved, it is impossible to summarise adequately. Somewhere in the consortium are resources and facilities for any particular area of research to more or less match anything available at any university in the world. Birkbeck and its neighbour UCL jointly operate a number of world class experimental facilities e.g. x-ray crystallography, NMR, electron microscopy, infra-red and magnetic resonance brain imaging.

What are the advantages for students taking part in this DTP in particular?

The camaraderie of being ‘in it together’ with a large and diverse group of students. The potential to undertake research in several of the colleges of the University of London in different research areas before deciding where to register for their PhD. The huge number and variety of projects that are available.

Are there any features of supervision within LIDo that you would like to highlight?

All students have at least two scientific supervisors to provide guidance and advice. In most of the institutions students will also be assigned a thesis mentor to act as an independent source of advice. LIDo keeps an eye on all the students, supervisors and host departments throughout the PhD. The LIDo representatives at each institution and the LIDO administrative staff are always available to help resolve (usually non-scientific) problems.

Are there any features of training or professional development and employability within LIDo that you would like to highlight?

To broaden student’s experience, all BBSRC-funded students also undertake a paid 3-month internship in an external organisation during their PhD. For CASE students this will be with their industrial partner. For other students the internship can be in any organisation able to provide an appropriate training environment. Students have taken placements in the biotech industry, in the voluntary sector, in a wide-range of start-ups, in policy roles, in government and in science communication. The program also has several networking events per year with invited participants from industry.

How can students find out about potential projects and supervisors at Birkbeck?

For students interested in the CASE studentships, a list of projects is available from November each year (for a following October start) at the LIDo website. Occasionally a few other specific projects affiliated to the programme are also advertised by the individual institutions. Most students are, however, initially recruited to the programme not a specific project or supervisor. For those students who are successful in their applications, a project list is provided in the Summer before they start their first year from which they choose labs to rotate in. There are usually over 200 projects to choose from, of those usually around 20 involve Birkbeck supervisors.

How would you describe your roles within the LIDo?

Multi-faceted. We have an oversight and pastoral role for LIDo students carrying out their PhD projects at Birkbeck. We represent Birkbeck’s views to the consortium. We work with staff from the other institutions in the consortium to take strategic and financial decisions for the DTP, and to organise bids for the funding to continue the programme (current grant funding is £20 million). We develop and enact policies regarding the student training aspects the programme. And finally, and by no means the least of our tasks, we work with staff from the other institutions to select students to join the programme from the many hundreds of applicants that LIDo receives each year.

What background and experience would successful students be able to demonstrate?

High level of recent academic achievement, typically either a First Class BSc or a Distinction at Masters level should be achieved or confidently predicted. Previous experience of research is also important, for example, through an extended undergraduate project, a Master’s degree project or one or more summer research internships. Almost all successful applicants will have spent at least 2-3 months working on a research project and have a good reference from their research supervisor. Applicants with more extensive experience in academia or industry in a research or technical role are regarded favourably even if their academic record is slightly less than perfect.

Where can potential students and supervisors find out more about LIDo?

The LIDo website.

What do students need to do to apply?

Follow the application guidance available from the LIDo website – a completed application form, CV, references and transcripts need to be provided.

Are there any key dates to be aware of?

The closing date for studentships beginning in Autumn 2018 is 19 January 2018. Applicants should check the LIDo website for further information. It is advisable to begin the process at least a few weeks ahead of the deadline so that you can arrange for all the paperwork to be submitted before the deadline.

Upcoming Birkbeck Wellcome ISSF Deadline (31 October)

Birkbeck has a Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund (ISSF) which provides opportunities for PhD researchers whose work falls under the broad remit of the Wellcome Trust:

  • Biomedical research
  • Medical humanities
  • Medical social sciences

The next deadline for Birkbeck Wellcome Trust ISSF applications is 31 October.

Opportunities for Birkbeck PhD students could include the following:

  • If you are a PhD researcher completing your thesis can apply for funding to enable you to complete publications or develop public engagement or dissemination activities. The funding covers salary costs up to six months beyond the end of your formal period of study (on the starting point of the Researcher 1 pay scale).
  • If you are a current PhD researcher you can apply for funding of up to £5,000 to carry out public engagement or interdisciplinary activities for a period of up to three months. Please note: this period will represent a formal break in your studies, if your PhD funder allows it.

For further information about the ISSF awards and for details of how to apply please view the ISSF website.

A brief profile of the London NERC DTP with Professor Andy Carter

This brief profile of the London Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) DTP is the first in a series of brief profiles looking at Doctoral Training Programmes which offer funded PhD studentships at Birkbeck. Many thanks to Professor Andy Carter for answering the following questions.

How would you describe the London NERC DTP?

The London NERC DTP is a partnership of nine world-leading research organisations across London. The partnership, which includes Birkbeck, is focused on excellence in environmental science research training and delivery of a transformative inter-disciplinary experience for PhD students.

How would you describe your role within this London NERC DTP?

I am a member of the Management Board of the London NERC DTP and postgraduate tutor for the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Birkbeck.

What are the advantages for Birkbeck PhD students taking part in the London NERC DTP?

Unlike most other DTP’s for the first six months students receive core interdisciplinary training as a cohort covering the full spectrum of environmental science. This engenders a strong sense of community and support. Training is given at each of the partner institutions including the Natural History Museum, Kew, UCL, Kings, Queen Mary and the Institute of Zoology. Part of the training requires the student cohort to organise and lead a field trip to California and an annual conference with the DTP’s at Imperial College and Reading University to showcase student work.

Image by Rebecca Parrish

How is the programme structured?

Year 1

In the Autumn term of year 1 students undertake core multi-disciplinary skills training, then in the Spring term they continue with core training and PhD project development. As part of their training students have taken part in a 10-day California Field Training Course. Within the Summer Term students relocate to the institution where they will be carrying out their PhD research.

Year 2

Alongside PhD supervision bespoke training courses are provided to develop specific skills. During their second year students are considered for upgrade from MPhil to full PhD status.

Years 3-4

Students continue research as well as preparing their thesis for submission and viva in year 4.

Student training. Image by Sally Faulkner

What kinds of resources and facilities are available to students who are offered a place on the programme?

Aside from training, each student is allocated a research grant of between £6,000 to £8,000 to cover any expenses associated with their project.

How are PhD students supported during their postgraduate research and in preparing for their careers after the PhD?

Students are able to access a range of training and networking workshops, events and internships: to develop business and entrepreneurial skills, engage with industrial, commercial and policy end-users; and to develop specific skills in collecting, interpreting and commodifying environmental data. These opportunities include “Innovation Week’ a 5-day integrated programme of lectures and workshops at the Siemen’s Crystal building at the Royal Victoria Docks in East London, covering topics at the interface between environmental science, business, and science policy.

What background and experience would successful students be able to demonstrate?/ What do students need to do to apply?

Applicants must meet UK residency criteria and language requirements. Applicants are expected to have a 2:1 or higher in a relevant degree, or equivalent work experience.

How can students find out about potential London NERC DTP projects and supervisors at Birkbeck?

Potential applicants should visit the London NERC DTP website for further information about the programme and about how to apply. Applications for London NERC DTP studentships beginning in Autumn 2018 are expected to open in November 2017 with a deadline for applications expected to be in early January 2018. Potential student projects at Birkbeck will be made available on the Earth and Planetary Sciences website in November 2017 once applications for studentships open.