News story

NDA announces latest sponsored PhD bursaries

7 PhD projects were selected for sponsorship. The £500,000 of sponsorship is part of ongoing R&D support to develop the technical skills needed for decommissioning in the future.

The annual PhD bursary scheme attracted more than 40 proposals from 17 different institutions.

The proposals were reviewed by technical specialists from working groups associated with the Nuclear Waste and Decommissioning Research Forum (NWDRF). They gave priority to projects that:

  • are relevant to multiple NDA sites
  • have the potential to help inform strategic decisions

Successful 2014-15 NDA PhD bursary applicants

Project title Theme University
Polyoxo actinide chemistry Open Edinburgh
Autonomous mobile robotic systems for remote handling and decommissioning Decommissioning Lancaster
In-situ real-time monitoring of waterborne low energy betas Land Quality and Characterisation Lancaster
Long-range scanning based detection of alpha-induced air fluorescence even under daylight conditions (AI-AF dc) Characterisation Lancaster
Benchmarking nuclear decommissioning Open Leeds
Optimising bioremediation end-points for the safe and effective long-term stewardship of UK radwaste impacted land Land Quality Manchester
Zirconium doped titanium silicate ion-exchange materials Waste Packaging and Storage UCLAN

The NDA seeks to achieve leveraging through our University R&D investments. As well as funding PhD research through the bursary scheme, the NDA also co-funds decommissioning-related PhD projects with other partners. With the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) we typically achieve a 2:1 funding leverage.

We also commit a significant amount of in-kind support to various postgraduate nuclear research programmes. Examples of these are:

  • the Next Generation Nuclear Centre for Doctoral Training
  • the Decommissioning, Immobilisation and Storage Solutions for Nuclear Waste Inventories (DISTINCTIVE) programme (see below for invitation to their 1st annual meeting)
Current NDA-funded PhD projects in UK universities (January 2015)
Current NDA-funded PhD projects in UK universities (January 2015)

All NDA-sponsored PhD students are assigned an industrial supervisor from the NDA estate or the National Nuclear Laboratory to ensure their projects remain focussed on relevant areas of study and to support knowledge-sharing between industry and academia.

As part of the process, we hold an annual event, the NDA Bursary Seminar, in Manchester. Industry and academia meet to hear the NDA-sponsored students present their latest findings. The most recent event in January featured presentations from 37 students. The event attracted 21 academics and 56 industry experts. It also included an informative keynote speech from Tom Sheldon, the Senior Press Manager at the Science Media Centre.

The PhD Bursary Scheme and wider support for University R&D play an important role in securing the future skill base for nuclear decommissioning.

For more information about NDA-funded PhD projects and the latest Bursary Seminar contact:

Rick Short, NDA’s Research Manager: research@nda.gov.uk