Agri-food is the largest manufacturing sector in the UK, generating over £100bn each year and employing almost 4 million people.
But the sector is under growing pressure from population growth and an ageing demographic, new trends in migration, and climate change. Robotics and autonomous systems have the potential to meet or mitigate many of these challenges, but for these to be successful, a new generation of highly skilled, interdisciplinary researchers, engineers, leaders, and entrepreneurs are needed.
It is these challenges that the Agriforwards EPSRC CDT seeks to meet, by recruiting and training 50 aspiring postgraduate researchers over five cohorts from 2019 onwards, to interdisciplinary PhD studentship projects seeking to solve real-world problems in the agri-food industry, with academic and industrial supervisors.
Successful applicants will begin their four-year studentship by undertaking the MSc in Robotics and Autonomous Systems at the Lincoln Centre for Autonomous Systems, a leading institute for teaching and research in agri-food robotics. During the MSc year, students will be matched with supervisors and industry partners, and a PhD studentship project developed and agreed.
The University of East Anglia’s expertise in the context of Agriforwards is principally in the broad field of computer vision and artificial intelligence, and Agriforwards postgraduate researchers based here can normally expect to be embedded within one of our School of Computer Science’s highly regarded research themes.
Agriforwards-funded postgraduate researchers will benefit from an excellent programme of training intended to prepare them for a range of postdoctoral careers, including an annual conference and summer school; a network of peers and colleagues across three highly regarded universities and many leading industrial partners; and full EPSRC studentship funding. Those based at UEA will further benefit from the training and support offered by the vibrant Faculty of Science Graduate School, and from opportunities arising from the many other partnerships of which UEA is a member.
Applications are made to the Agriforwards programme in the first instance, with candidates able to indicate their preferred destination for the PhD. Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed, and if successful will be offered a four-year studentship. Following this, a formal application must be made to the University of Lincoln for a place on the MSc in Robotics and Autonomous Systems, and later to the University of East Anglia, for the PhD.
Applications typically open in October each year, with the first of several ‘rolling’ deadlines in early January.