South Coast Biosciences DTP

The South Coast Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (SoCoBio DTP) is a Doctoral Training Partnership funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)  and offers a broad,  four year research training programme which provides students with the skills they need to develop into future bioscience leaders in academia or in industry. It is a collaboration between four south coast universities - The University of Southampton, The University of Kent, The University of Sussex, The University of Portsmouth - and NIAB.

The SoCoBio’s cross-institutional approach draws on the research strengths of our partners to deliver a unique, high-quality interdisciplinary and industry-facing training experience. Moreover, each year, it offers undergraduates from across the UK the opportunity to undertake a summer research studentship at one of our partners.

Winter 2023/24 opportunities


Application deadline: Monday 8 January 2024 at 17:00 GMT
IMPORTANT: Please be advised there is a planned University data centre shutdown on 27 December 2023 to 1 January 2024.
During this period the University of Southampton application portal will not be available.

Students are recruited to the four-year programme rather than to a specific project. Once accepted to the programme, students are asked to choose their first rotation project from the portfolio of projects. After two four-month laboratory rotations, students are invited to finalise their PhD project choice.

Projects hosted and supervised by NIAB, at its East Malling site in Kent, are a priority for recruitment in 2023-24

Applying nutrient dynamics to adjust the nutrient-water balance in soft fruit soiless grown crops. Project No. 2467
Primary supervisor: Dr Eleftheria Stavridou (NIAB)
Co-supervisor(s): Prof Tiina Roose (University of Southampton) and Dr Carlota Gonzalez Nogue (NIAB)

Business as usual is unsustainable: we must produce healthier foods, using appropriate phosphorus inputs 
Primary supervisor: Dr Eleftheria Stavridou (NIAB)
Co-supervisor(s): Dr Helen Cockerton (University of Kent) and Dr Louisa Robinson Boyer (NIAB)

Does plant nutrition influence pollination? 
Primary supervisor: Dr Sarah Arnold (NIAB)
Co-supervisor(s): Dr Elizabeth Nicholls (University of Sussex) and Dr Eleftheria Stavridou (NIAB)

(CASE) Influence of undervine management for weed suppression in UK vineyards on bud viability, yield, soil, and grape and wine composition
Primary supervisor: Dr Belinda Kemp (NIAB)
Co-supervisor(s): Dr Helen Cockerton (University of Kent), Dr Flora O’Brian (NIAB) and Vinescapes Ltd (CASE Partner)

Managing malic acid and phenolic compounds in grape juice and wine using non-chemical viticultural and oenological techniques. 
Primary supervisor: Dr Belinda Kemp (NIAB)
Co-supervisor(s): Prof Vladimir Jiranek (University of Southampton)

(CASE) Predicting blackcurrant gallmite development in the spring 
Primary supervisor: Prof  Xiangming Xu (NIAB)
Co-supervisor(s): Prof Alan Stewart (University of Sussex), Adrian Harris (NIAB) and Rob Saunders (The Blackcurrent Grower Association (CASE partner))

The role of rhizosphere and endophyte microbiome in resistance to strawberry crown rot – Phytophthora cactorum 
Primary supervisor: Dr Matevz Papp-Rupar (NIAB)
Co-supervisor(s): Dr Marc Dumon (University of Southampton) and Prof Xiangming Xu (NIAB)

Understanding the interplay of plant genetics and microbiome for improved disease resistance 
Primary supervisor: Dr Matevz Papp-Rupar (NIAB)
Co-supervisor(s): Dr Tomislav Cernava (University of Southampton) and Dr Mark Chapman (University of Southampton)

With NIAB co-supervisors but based at partner Universities

Adaptiveness and molecular basis of seasonal rhythmicity in Spotted Wing Drosophila. Project No.2477
Primary supervisor: Dr Herman Wijnen (University of Southampton)
Co-supervisor(s): Dr Michelle Fountain (NIAB), Dr Samuel Robson (University of Portsmouth) and Dr Orestis Katsamenis (University of Southampton)

Association of methanotrophs with rice plants for improved grain yield and methane mitigation. Project No. 2417
Primary supervisor: Dr Marc Dumont (University of Southampton)
Co-supervisor(s): Dr Tomislav Cernava (University of Southampton), Dr Matevz Papp-Rupar (NIAB), Dr Louisa Robinson-Boyer (NIAB)

Bioactive compounds from upcycled plant waste to improve planetary and human health. Project No.2422
Primary supervisor: Dr Marina  Ezcurra (University of Kent)
Co-supervisor(s): Dr Eleftheria Stavridou (NIAB) and Kieron Edwards (Sibelius Limited (CASE partner))

Boosting plant disease resistance through RNAi hairpin introduction 
Primary supervisor: Dr Helen Cockerton (University of Kent)
Co-supervisor(s): Prof Alessia Buscaino (University of Kent) and Prof Xiangming Xu (NIAB)

Manipulating root-microbe interactions to improve plant responses to climate change stressors 
Primary supervisor: Dr William King (University of Southampton)
Co-supervisor(s): Dr Binuraj Menon (University of Portsmouth) and Dr Eleftheria Stavridou (NIAB)