Seed yield for the emerging market of forage grass seed production in Wales (PhD Scholarship)

Seed yield for the emerging market of forage grass seed production in Wales

Aberystwyth University, IBERS

Project ID: AU30007
Annual Stipend: £14,340
Application Deadline: 28th July 2018

This KESS 2 studentship provides an ideal entry into advanced plant breeding, genetics and agronomic research. Working with academics, the appointed student will gain invaluable training in modern practical plant breeding, population genetics and agronomic practices that address current global concerns. Also, working closely with one of the major suppliers of seed of forage crops in the UK, with growing additional overseas markets, the student will also gain knowledge of commercial decision making processes and will gain first-hand experience of the national and European cultivar testing and the legislative framework that underpins the commercial development and protection of new crop cultivars.

Although forage yield and quality are key traits for any forage breeding programme, consistently high and sustainable seed yield is an equally important commercial concern in an increasingly competitive market.

There are many ways in which seed yield can be improved but the key aim of any forage breeding programme is that this improvement is obtained with no detriment to forage yield and quality. Two seed production components that do not direct resources away from forage performance are seed setting ability and seed retention (anti-shattering). The project will focus on these two classic domestication traits.

A suggested approach is to identify and select genes and genomic regions that enhance these key traits through genetic association studies and subsequent marker assisted selection. Alternatively, management interventions specifically targeted to seed production crops could also be investigated. The student will devise strategies in conjunction with a dynamic team of plant breeders and agronomists who work closely in conjunction with Germinal Holdings, Ltd, an innovative seed company who have had a successful working relationship with Aberystwyth plant breeders since 1987.


Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS 2) is a pan-Wales higher level skills initiative led by Bangor University on behalf of the HE sector in Wales. It is part funded by the Welsh Government’s European Social Fund (ESF) convergence programme for West Wales and the Valleys.

The successful candidate will need to be resident in the convergence area on registration, and must have the right to work in the region on qualification. The successful applicant should have a minimum of a relevant first or upper second class honours degree, and be available to take up the studentship by 1st October 2018. The project is part-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) through the European Union’s Convergence programme administered by the Welsh Government. KESS II PhD scholarships are collaborative awards with external partners. (Applicants need to only apply, they do not need to search for partners).


To apply, please submit the following to the Postgraduate Admissions Office (address below) by 28th July 2018.

  1. A completed Research Programme Application Form, two references. Application and reference forms may be downloaded from
  2. A completed KESS II Participant proposal form (put the reference number AU30007 in the top right hand box of the application form) and an up-to-date CV. KESS II application forms are available to download at the link below.

  1. A PhD proposal of up to 1,000 words where you expand on your experience and interests and describe why you are a good candidate for this research studentship. Please refer to the Project Description or contact Drs Sarah Palmer ( and Danny Thorogood ( to discuss the proposal.


Value of Award: A stipend of £14,340 (rising in accordance with inflation for the remaining two years). Each scholarship has an additional budget for travel, equipment/consumables and training to support your research. KESS II PhD Scholarship holders do not pay fees.

Length: Full-time for 3 years. (Theses must be submitted 6 months after the funded three year study period.)

Training: The achievement of a Postgraduate Skills Development Award (PSDA) is compulsory for each KESS II scholar (The PSDA is based on a 60 credit award, which is an additional award to the PhD).

Eligibility: To be eligible to apply for a KESS II award, you must be resident, upon starting the scholarship, in the Convergence Area of Wales and you must be able to take paid employment in the Convergence area on completion of the scholarship.

The Convergence Area means the following counties of Wales:

Isle of Anglesey
Neath Port Talbot
Rhondda Cynon Taff

For further student eligibility criteria related to the individual projects, please view the details of the individual project above.

Informal enquiries should be made to Dr Sarah Palmer at  or 01970 823186

Address for applications:

Postgraduate Admissions Office
Recruitment & Admissions
Student Welcome Centre
Aberystwyth University
Aberystwyth SY23 3FB

Quote Reference AU30007

Closing date for applications 28th July 2018