A sustainable society? £1m to do the sums

15 Dec 2014 17:11:45.450
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The problems of food shortages, water scarcity and insufficient clean energy threaten to intensify as the global population grows. 

The challenges of resource sustainability are interdependent, highly complex, and inseparable from their social context. Mathematics can play a crucial role in helping us to understand and optimise our resources by quantifying and predicting the effects of alternative approaches and interventions. 

The University of Nottingham has been awarded more than £1m by The Leverhulme Trust to establish a unique Doctoral Training Programme in ‘Mathematics for a Sustainable Society’ and help build a new generation of mathematicians with a much greater awareness of both the complexity of the problems and a wider understanding of the societal issues involved. It will provide them with a uniquely broad exposure to sustainability research, from the development of improved crops or new energy sources, to the role of individual choice and the interplay between different resource systems.

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‘Mathematics for a Sustainable Society’ will bring together internationally leading groups from across the University — from Biosciences, Economics, Education, Engineering, Geography, Sociology & Social Policy and Veterinary Medicine.

The PhD students will apply their core skills in mathematical and statistical modelling and develop new mathematics to address problems in and between the thematic areas of food, water and energy. 

Markus Owen, Professor of Mathematical Biology in the School of Mathematical Sciences at The University of Nottingham, will lead the new programme. He said: “Our vision is to train a cohort of outstanding doctoral students with world-class skills in mathematics, combined with cross-disciplinary understanding and experience of key areas in resource sustainability. Our aim is to produce future research leaders who will deliver maximum societal benefit by addressing the challenges of global sustainability.”

In addition, The University of Nottingham will support the Scholarships by extending each three year PhD to four years, and by funding six one-year “MASS Doctoral Prizes” designed to offer support and flexibility for exceptional students who wish to establish a research career. The first cohort of students will begin in autumn 2015. 

Professor Saul Tendler, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, said: “The University of Nottingham’s School of Mathematical Sciences has an outstanding track record in multi-disciplinary research. This new prestigious centre firmly connects this excellence to key societal issues. Across the University we have a significant success rate in winning such innovative doctoral training centres, building on our outstanding reputation in PhD training. This funding provides us with an exciting opportunity to establish a talented and skilled research base to help provide the answers to some of the world’s most challenging questions.”

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham has 43,000 students and is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with campuses in China and Malaysia modelled on a headquarters that is among the most attractive in Britain’ (Times Good University Guide 2014). It is also the most popular university in the UK among graduate employers, in the top 10 for student experience according to the Times Higher Education and winner of ‘Research Project of the Year’ at the THE Awards 2014. It is ranked in the world’s top one per cent of universities by the QS World University Rankings.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest-ever fundraising campaign, is delivering the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…

Story credits

More information is available from Professor Markus Owen on +44 (0)115 846 7214, markus.owen@nottingham.ac.uk
Lindsay Brooke

Lindsay Brooke - Media Relations Manager

Email: lindsay.brooke@nottingham.ac.uk Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5751 Location: University Park

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