Boost for training tomorrow's scientists and engineers | University of Oxford

Boost for training tomorrow's scientists and engineers

A UK-wide investment of £350m will help to boost Oxford University training for the next generation of scientists and engineers, it was announced today.

Funding allocated by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) will see Oxford University lead six Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs), and play a leading role in several others, out of over 70 CDTs established across the country. The investment was announced by Universities and Science Minister David Willetts today at a press conference in London.

Covering everything from chemistry to statistics, biomedicine to mathematics, aerodynamics to archaeology, the Oxford CDTs will give hundreds of doctoral students the skills and expertise to take on a wide range of research challenges relevant to science and economic growth and develop into the research leaders of the future.

The Oxford-led CDTs are:

The EPSRC CDT in Synthesis for Biology & Medicine, based in Oxford University's Department of Chemistry, will train the next generation of doctoral scientists to use chemical synthesis to tackle problems relevant to challenges including developing new anti-infectives to tackle the emergence of antibiotic-resistant disease and understanding how newly-discovered proteins interact with the human brain. In a unique 'Intellectual Property-free' approach 100 fully-funded DPhil students at the CDT will freely share information and expertise between academic groups and 12 industrial partners.

The EPSRC CDT in Industrially Focused Mathematical Modelling will train the next generation of applied mathematicians to fill critical roles in industry and academia. The students will become adaptable problem-solvers armed with a breadth of cutting-edge mathematical techniques and outstanding communication skills. The Centre currently has 35 partner companies, spanning SMEs to multinationals firms, who are actively involved in designing, delivering, and supporting the Centre's training and research. After a first year of intensive training, the students will pursue a research project aligned with a company so that all aspects of CDT research have immediate impact. 

The EPSRC Oxford-Warwick Statistics Programme will train graduates in the theory, methods and computation of modern statistical science for data-intensive environments. The world is facing an unprecedented demand for highly trained statistical scientists due to the explosive growth of data. The departments of statistics at the universities of Oxford and Warwick have worked together to create a new centre for doctoral training in statistics. Doctoral students will gain depth of understanding from a supervisor pool of international standing as well as a breadth of experience from partners in industry and academia, including Google, GlaxoSmithKline, Amazon, UC Berkeley, Columbia University, and ETH Zurich.

EPSRC CDT in Partial Differential Equations: Analysis and Applications: Partial Differential Equations (PDEs) are ubiquitous in many applications of mathematics, where they provide a natural mathematical description of numerous phenomena. The behaviour of many material objects can also be modelled by PDEs or by equations having similar features. This CDT's comprehensive research programme will enable students to learn theory, analysis and applications in a variety of fields in a coherent manner, with a natural progression, by-passing a traditionally separate 'pure' or 'applied' approach to learning. The central aim is to develop outstanding mathematicians who will help drive scientific advances over the next fifty years.

The EPSRC CDT in Systems Approaches to Biomedical Science will continue to train future industrial research leaders; first-rate, highly interdisciplinary scientists who can use a systems approach to drive future innovation in the development of novel drugs and therapies for the prevention, diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment of disease. Students receive a tailored training programme in the first year, which prepares them for a three-year doctoral research project working with one, or more, of 16 partner organisations: AstraZeneca; Diamond Light Source; e-Therapeutics; Evotec; GE Healthcare; GlaxoSmithKline; Hoffmann LaRoche; InhibOx; Lilly UK; Microsoft; the Moffitt Cancer Center; Novartis; Pfizer; the Structural Genomics Consortium; UCB.

EPSRC CDT in Theory and Modelling in Chemical Sciences: Theory and computer modelling play an increasingly central role in chemical and allied sciences, providing the means to understand, predict and design new molecules and materials. This CDT will combine the expertise of leading groups in Oxford, Bristol and Southampton Universities, to transform graduate-level training in computational and theoretical chemistry and deliver the research leaders of the future required by both academia and industry. Students will receive integrated, in-depth training in the core activities of fundamental theory, software development, and application to contemporary research challenges. The programme further includes extensive outreach to the wider national research and user community.

CDTs where Oxford is a leading partner include:

The EPSRC CDT in Gas Turbine Aerodynamics will be an international centre of excellence, aimed at training the next generation of leaders in both research and industry.  It brings together three UK universities, Cambridge, Oxford, and Loughborough, along with four internationally leading companies, Rolls-Royce, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Siemens and Dyson, assisted by a team of world leading experts from NASA, Rolls Royce and MIT.  The centre is designed to support a sector which is currently responsible for the employment of 6.8% of UK manufacturing jobs, and which, over the next 20 years, is predicted, to be worth in-excess of $1,650 billion.

EPSRC CDT in Science and Engineering in Arts, Heritage and Archaeology: The public world-wide are fascinated by cultural heritage, but engagement and understanding rely on science and engineering to underpin the work of cultural professionals in analysis, interpretation and preservation, and on entrepreneurship to create sustainable enterprises within this multi-billion pound sector. The SEAHA partnership between universities, cultural institutions and industry will provide research opportunities that bridge STEM, Arts and Humanities disciplines. Students will create new knowledge (sensors, instrumentation, analysis and content creation), whilst developing expertise in materials, environment and digital economy, alongside transferable and entrepreneurial skills. SEAHA will equip doctoral graduates for careers in heritage, related industries or policy-making.