UCT-UEA Newton PhD partnership on Understanding the Climate System and Coping with Climate Change

1. Background and context

The University of East Anglia (UEA) and the University of Cape Town, South Africa (UCT) are pleased to announce an exciting new partnership scheme supporting PhD students conducting research in the areas of ‘improving understanding of the climate system – including the ocean and atmosphere’ and ‘developing capacity to cope with climate change’. The scheme is jointly funded by the Research Councils UK (RCUK) and the National Research Foundation in South Africa (NRF) under the Newton Fund RCUK-NRF International PhD Partnering Scheme.

The Newton Fund is a new initiative intended to strengthen research and innovation partnerships between the UK and emerging knowledge economies. It forms part of the UK’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment which is monitored by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

2. The UEA-UCT partnership: Research Exchange Visit Scheme

The partnership aims to develop sustainable, strategic links between UEA and UCT in two key areas:

i) improving understanding of the climate system, particularly climate variability on seasonal to decadal time scales through research on atmospheric and ocean processes . Through the exchange, PhD students from both countries will conduct field work using ships and autonomous systems in the Southern and Indian Oceans, develop models, and acquire new data and knowledge necessary to constrain climate variability and its drivers, including the global ocean carbon cycle. Students will have the opportunity to engage with global research programmes, for example the UEA-led annual release of the Global Carbon Budget http://www.globalcarbonproject.org/carbonbudget/

ii) developing capacity to deal with climate change through identifying and quantifying climate change risks, impact and adaptation options. Students will apply an existing integrated assessment model to South Africa, to assess the implications of climate change for water and food availability and test adaptation options. The links between changing climate and human health will be explored, such as the availability and quality of drinking water. The wider impacts on the South African economy will be explored through the development of a ‘disaster footprint analysis’ currently being applied in China. We will assess the regional implications of changes in stock size and geographic range of marine species for fisheries and conservation.

The scheme welcomes exchanges also in other climate change related topics, including energy and mitigation.

The primary partnering activity will be a series of annual PhD research exchange visits from 2016 to 2019 between UCT and UEA. For each of these three years the scheme will sponsor 3 or 4 PhD students from both UEA and UCT to spend a short period of their study (usually 3-6 months) in the partner institution, conducting research that will promote future South African well-being interest as part of their PhD project, and undertaking training in career-enhancing multi-disciplinary scientific skills. Where possible, students will visit in cohorts to facilitate integration.

There is also funding available for one faculty or senior research staff member trip each way per year.

How to apply

1) Check your eligibility

The scheme is open to any PhD student registered either at UEA or UCT who is conducting research in a relevant discipline area which fits with the strategic aims above. The placement can take place at any time during the period of study, provided that it has the support of the applicant’s supervisory team.

For UEA-registered students only : you must have been eligible to have received RCUK funding when you registered for your PhD, but you do not have to be RCUK funded. This means that you must have been able to meet the residency requirements required by RCUK, and be undertaking research within the remit of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).
Please see www.rcuk.ac.uk/funding/grantstcs/

2) Arrange your placement 
Students are expected to arrange the placements themselves, supported as necessary by their supervisor(s). The placements must be directly linked to your research topic and must take place within the original funded period of your studentship. So the first step is for you to make contact with a research host at the partner institution to discuss the possibility of a placement. Please bear in mind the strategic long-term aspiration of this partnership when making contacts. A list of academic staff at UEA and UCT already involved with the Partnership can be found in Annex A of the call document below. You could contact one of them about the possibility of a placement, but you can also approach others working in a relevant field.

3) Complete the application form

You will need to provide a short proposal in support of your application, detailing areas such as the research to be undertaken during the visit, training you will access, and how the placement will benefit your research. Please see the application form below for further guidance on what you need to include.

Your application must be supported by your supervisor and by the person who will be supervising you at the partner institution. You will therefore need to forward the relevant sections of the application form to them for completion.

4) Application deadline and notification of outcome 
Once your application is completed, signed and dated and you have the statements of support from the supervisors, you should return the form either by email or in hard copy to:

UCT applications:
Leigh Cobban, African Climate & Development Initiative - leigh.cobban@uct.ac.za

UEA applications:
Robert Woolliams -  r.woolliams@uea.ac.uk
We are now welcoming applications from UEA registered students for placements at UCT to begin on or around 27 August 2017, so that they can attend the Joint IAPSO-IAMAS-IAGA Assembly 2017.
You must be eligible for RCUK funding, and the deadline for application is 1st May 2017.

The scheme is jointly funded by the Research Councils UK (RCUK) and the National Research Foundation in South Africa (NRF) under the Newton Fund RCUK-NRF International PhD Partnering Scheme.