Optimising Blue Carbon Storage in Estuaries Using Rewilding and Eco-engineering Approaches


Funded PhD


3 years (full-time) 5 years (part-time)

Application deadline:

Midnight 31 January 2022

About this project

Applications are invited for a fully funded PhD studentship studying blue carbon storage in estuaries using rewilding and eco-engineering approaches, as part of the University of Hull’s REWILD Research cluster (see “About the research cluster” below for more details of the cluster).

Estuary management and managed realignment on the Humber acts as both flood defence and, initially at least, creates mud flat habitat to compensate for losses to development elsewhere. However, previous studies indicate that sedimentation rates in the middle and inner Humber limit the timescale over which realignment is an effective flood defence and accelerate the transition from mud flat to high salt marsh. However, a number of managed realignment sites are now planned by the Environment Agency for the outer estuary, where the sedimentation regime is very different. The establishment of these new sites provides a novel opportunity to study sedimentation rates and carbon capture as salt marsh establishes and proliferates. This project therefore aims to investigate carbon capture by salt marsh assemblages in the past and present at existing and planned realignment sites in the Humber. Cores will explore long-term storage and Northumbria’s ground-breaking LGR Ultraportable Greenhouse Gas Analyzer that reports simultaneous measurements of methane, carbon dioxide and water vapour will be used to explore if the rate of carbon capture is dependent upon salt marsh species and other hydraulic and chemical drivers (e.g. wave-current action, salinity).

You will be part of a collaborative, multidisciplinary and nurturing environment to help realise your potential, and will be provided with excellent opportunities for external networking. We will hold regular monthly meetings with the entire cluster, with opportunities to present and discuss research, invite internal and external speakers and collaborators and foster networking.

For informal enquiries, please contact Dr Rob Thomas.

About the REWILD research cluster


REWILD: understanding ecological, environmental and societal costs and benefits of rewilding.

We are experiencing a global climate and biodiversity crisis. Closer to home, more than half of UK species are in decline and a further 15% threatened with extinction. Rewilding - the large-scale restoration of ecosystems by allowing reinstatement of natural processes and missing species - is seen as one potential solution for the protection and recovery of ecosystems. The rewilding of terrestrial, freshwater and marine habitats can make a critical contribution to carbon sequestration, flood mitigation, water quality, biodiversity, and human wellbeing. However rewilding can also be highly controversial, with conflicts arising because of competing interests of different stakeholder groups. The REWILD research cluster at the University of Hull is a multidisciplinary team of researchers across biology, environmental science, psychology and systems thinking, working with diverse stakeholders to collectively understand the ecological, environmental and societal costs and benefits of rewilding. Our 6 PhD studentships focus on understanding i) the impacts of rewilding projects on biodiversity, sedimentation rates and carbon sequestration dynamics, ii) the community benefits of blue spaces, and the perceptions, values and challenges of rewilding the sea, and iii) how animal “personalities” drive public perceptions of species reintroductions.

Click here to watch a recording of our recent webinar about this funded postgraduate research opportunity.  You'll hear from programme leaders, supervisors, and students and listen to queries from other applicants in the Q&A.


Other PhDs in this cluster


Uncovering the Biodiversity Impacts of Rewilding on Entire Ecological Communities at a Landscape Scape Using Environmental DNA

Greening Blue Spaces in Hull

Understanding Environmental Adaptability in Wild Mammalian Carnivores: a Multidisciplinary Perspective

Effective Biodiversity Monitoring of River Rewilding Projects Using eDNA Modelling

Rewilding the Sea: Perceptions, Values and Challenges

Watch: find out more about postgraduate study at the University of Hull

Watch the video


The successful applicant will receive a fee waiver and a maintenance grant/stipend for three years (full time) or five years (part-time), which covers the research period of the PhD. The fee waiver for 21/22 is £4,500 (Home fee) and the maintenance grant is £15,609. This rises each year in line with the UKRI’s recommended stipend allowance.

Submission of thesis

Submission of your final thesis is expected within three years and three months from the start of your PhD scholarship for full time and within five years and six months if studying part-time.

If you need to move into a fourth year (full time) or sixth year (part-time) to complete your thesis, please note that you will not receive a tuition fee waiver or maintenance grant during this period.

Entry requirements

A minimum of a BSc(Hons) degree (2:1 class), in biology, geoscience, geology, geography or a related subject is required. A Masters degree (taught or research) in a related subject or relevant experience would be an advantage.

For more details on our entry requirements please visit the postgraduate admissions webpage.

This scholarship is available for full-time and part-time study.

Research training

As a PhD student here at the University of Hull you will undertake the Postgraduate Training Scheme alongside your main degree, to help you develop the research skills and knowledge you’ll need in your future career. You will gain a Postgraduate Certificate or Diploma in Research Training in addition to your PhD.

International applicants

This opportunity comes with a home fee waiver only.

How to apply

You will need to supply a personal statement when applying for this scholarship position. Find out more about writing a personal statement. Please also ensure you include the following information:

  1. What motivates you to pursue PhD study
  2. Why you are interested in this project
  3. How your skill set matches the requirements for your choice of project and/or any additional training you will need
  4. The wider significance of research in this area and potential future research directions for the project.

Apply now

Apply for this scholarship: Full time | Part-time 

Closing date: Midnight on Monday 31 January 2022.