University lands £25m to fund new research

University of Bath

A new generation of scientists, mathematicians and engineers is to be trained at the University of Bath thanks to £25m in new funding.

The bulk of this money will come from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Council (EPSRC). This will be supplemented by funding from the University, government, industry and overseas institutions.

The beneficiaries of the funding will be two Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) led by the University of Bath: the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Statistical Applied Mathematics (SAMBa) and the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Sustainable Chemical Technologies: A Systems Approach (CSCT).

The money will be invested by the two CDTs over eight years, with each centre training between 80 and 100 PhD students. The first cohort of students will start their PhDs in October 2024.

The university is one of many UK institutions to benefit from the latest EPSRC training initiative. In total, over £1bn will be spent on 65 centres for doctoral training, funding over 4,000 doctoral students. Of this, £500 million will be provided by UK Research and Innovation – which the EPSRC is part of – and the Ministry of Defence, and a further £590m investment will come from universities and business partners.

Collectively, the centres will address key challenges including net zero, AI, defence and security, healthcare and quantum technologies.

As part of the training investment, Bath will also partner with three CDTs led by other UK institutions, bringing further funding and PhD students to the University. These centres are: the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Aerosol Science: Harnessing Aerosol Science for Improved Security, Resilience and Global Health (led by the University of Bristol), the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Cyber Secure Everywhere: Resilience in a World of Disappearing System Boundaries (also led by Bristol) and the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Green Industrial Futures (led by Heriot-Watt University).

At the end of their training, students will graduate with the necessary skills to become future research leaders in areas where currently there is a significant shortfall of expertise.

SAMBa has been centred in the University’s Department of Mathematical Sciences since 2014. New students will explore topics that range from predicting the potential presence of sewage in waterways after storms to monitoring the progression of Multiple Sclerosis more effectively and overcoming the interference in mobile phone signals when users are moving through a crowded space.

The new cohort of science and engineering students will investigate areas including: capture of carbon dioxide and its conversion into useful products; reduction of plastics pollution; reuse and recycling of molecules, materials and products, and elimination of waste from industrial processes.

Dr Susie Douglas, co-director of SAMBa, said: “We are in the middle of an exciting period of rapid advancement in the way mathematical research is conducted and in its power to change the world for the better.

Professor Matthew Davidson, who will lead CSCT, said: “Chemical technologies underpin almost every aspect of our lives, from the energy we use to the materials we rely on and the medications we take.

“Today’s global chemicals industry is responsible for 10% of greenhouse gas emissions and consumes 20% of oil and gas as carbon feedstock to make products. A more sustainable chemicals sector is, therefore, urgently required, but to achieve this presents major technical and societal challenges. New sustainable chemical technologies are needed.

“Lack of access to experts in science and engineering with a holistic understanding of sustainable systems is widely and publicly recognised as a significant risk. It’s therefore extremely timely to establish a new centre to train the next generation of leaders in sustainable chemical technologies with the ability to develop and transfer sustainable practices into industry and society.”