NERC Doctoral Training Partnership award

November 6, 2013

Doctoral square green-smThe outcome of the Natural Environments Research Council (NERC) call for Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs) was announced late on Monday 4th November. I am delighted to be able to report that The Open University (OU) has been funded through the DTP scheme as part of the “Central England NERC Training Alliance” (CENTA). Having co-developed the OU contribution to CENTA with our research centre director Prof. Simon Kelley I am also somewhat relieved by this positive outcome.

The CENTA group comprises four other universities in addition to the OU (University of Birmingham, University of Leicester, University of Warwick, and Loughborough University) and two partner organisations (British Geological Survey and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology). CENTA will host studentships across the range of NERC science with particular focus on four key science themes:

  1. Anthropogenic impact and environmental sustainability
  2. Evolution of organisms and ecosystems
  3. Dynamic Earth
  4. Organisms, ‘omics and biogeochemistry

Opportunities to join the PCRG here at the OU through this scheme will be adverstised shortly. If you are interested in PhD projects in any of the above areas keep an eye out for further details of CENTA projects and opportunities over the next few weeks.

To find out more about CENTA visit the DTP website by clicking here.


A new addition to the Palaeoenvironmental Change Research Group

August 30, 2013

Phil Jardine

Phil Jardine

My name’s Phil Jardine, and I’ve recently joined the Palaeoenvironmental Change Research Group as a post-doc, on the NERC-funded ‘500,000 years of solar irradiance, climate and vegetation changes’. For this project I’ll be analysing the chemistry of pollen grains from a 500,000 year long sediment record from Lake Bosumtwi in Ghana, with the aim of generating a long-term historical record of solar irradiance.

Before coming to the Open University I was based at the University of Birmingham, where I did PhD and post-doc research on North American pollen records from the early Palaeogene (~65 – 45 million years ago). For this work I was particularly interested in the role of climate in driving changes in plant communities, especially during a rapid global warming event 55 million years called the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). Having worked for some time now on pretty old material, I’m looking forward to researching something a bit more recent – if you can call the last 500,000 years recent – and going out to Ghana and looking at real, live, tropical plants.

If you would like to get in touch about the Lake Bosumtwi project, or something else pollen related, please feel free to get in touch.

Blog at