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Assessing the Environmental Benefits and Educational Value of Tree-Planting Projects in Schools

University of Essex - School of Life Sciences

Location: Colchester
Salary: £17,668 stipend (one year)
Hours: Full Time
Contract Type: Fixed-Term/Contract
Placed On: 30th November 2022
Closes: 6th January 2023
Job Ref: 11332
 

Supervisory Team

Prof Terry McGenity, Prof Corinne Whitby, Dr Rob Ferguson, Dr Dave Clark (School of Life Sciences, University of Essex)

The project is a collaboration between the University of Essex, Colchester Borough Council, Unity Primary School (Greenstead), Earthwatch, and the funding body, Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care System (SNEE ICS)

Background

A Miyawaki tree-planting program at a local school provides the backdrop for the project. The Miyawaki method involves planting (or allowing to grow) the right mixture of native species in the right place, creating a community of trees with a dense structure, thus rapidly establishing a multi-strata woodland ecosystem. By increasing biodiversity in areas with limited natural space, this project will provide opportunities for school children and the local community to interact with trees and connect with nature to improve health and wellbeing.

Approach

As part of a team you will address the overarching question “what do trees and their associated biota do for us?” by measuring the impact of planting on, for example: soil carbon and nitrogen cycling, microbial and invertebrate biodiversity, air and noise pollution.

You will co-design field experiments with supervisors, teachers and school children, and carry out laboratory techniques and analyse data. You will also support teachers and school children to perform experiments and analyses. An important goal will be to identify the merits and limitations of pupil-derived datasets for broader community-science projects, as well as identifying experiments and analyses that are most engaging and educational for school children. You will therefore play a key role in the development of educational materials.

Person Specifications and Training

This fully funded Masters by Dissertation project is ideal for someone who is enthusiastic about understanding and protecting the environment, and wants to contribute to society by interacting with school children, teachers and the wider community. You should have a good undergraduate degree in the area of environmental or biological sciences.

You will join the vibrant Ecology and Environmental Microbiology Research Group at the University of Essex. The experienced multi-disciplinary supervisory team will train you in the techniques required for the project, and, as a postgraduate research student, you will have funding for other training opportunities within the School of Life Sciences and externally.

Start date 24th April 2023

End date 23rd April 2024

We are committed to equality, diversity, widening participation and inclusion, and encourage enquiries and applications from all sections of the community.

For further information, please contact Professor Terry McGenity tjmcgen@essex.ac.uk.

Funding

Stipend £17,668 (one year)

Home tuition fees – paid by the grant

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