PhD Studentship 2023

SfAM wishes to support projects that will further the science of applied microbiology and undertake ambitious and novel research with a primary focus on tackling one of the Society’s significant challenges set out in the current strategy.
  • Who can apply: open to any UK based SfAM member in a position to supervise a PhD student

  • Maximum award: the home student tuition fee and a maintenance fee for the student (stipend set at the standard research council rate). Funding is for 4 years.

SfAM wishes to support projects that will further the science of applied microbiology and undertake ambitious and novel research with a primary focus on tackling one of the Society’s significant challenges set out in the current strategy.

  • Applicants must work at a recognised university or research institute where PhD training is offered. Relevant projects are likely to reflect the priority areas of SfAM.

  • Applicants must have had an article accepted for publication in one of the Society for Applied Microbiology’s journals in the last 36 months (Journal of Applied Microbiology; Letters in Applied Microbiology; Environmental Microbiology; Environmental Microbiology Reports; or Microbial Biotechnology).

  • Applicants need not necessarily be in a ‘Microbiology’ lecturer post, but their research field and proposed project should be in the field of applied microbiology.

The closing date for applications is 2 September 2022. Applicants will be notified of the decision by on 1 July 2023

1 July 2022                 Round 1 opening date

1 Sept 2022                Round 1 closing date

1 Oct 2022                  Round 1 winners announced (Supervisor/Project - three in total)

1 Feb 2023                  Students selected (up to three per project)

Late Jun 2023            Students interviewed by SfAM

1 July 2023                 Winning project/student announced

Sept/Oct                     Project starts

Round 1: two-page project description & supervisor CV (only 1 application per institution).

The project description should:

  • state the research question to be answered

  • state why this question is important to applied microbiology and relevant to the SfAM priority areas

  • include a section that discusses the impact of the research and how it fits into a pathway that will lead to an application.

  • if the research has wider societal or economic impact, public engagement should also be discussed

  • not refer to the host institution in the main body of text.

The Society Grants Award Panel will select 3-5 projects that will proceed to Round 2.

Round 2: Proposed student CV (3 per project).

  • the student CV should be one page only

  • shortlisted students will be invited for interview at the SfAM office in London or via an online conferencing link.

A key component of our PhD grant is to provide an SfAM Integrated Placement – a 3-month integrated placement to provide the successful PhD student with the opportunity to carry out a work placement unrelated to their doctoral research during their PhD. Such experience is important, both to help early career researchers understand the context of their research, and to expose them to the range of opportunities in which they can apply their PhD skills and training after they graduate.

This placement will enable students to gain experience of working in:

  • project management

  • organisational strategy

  • science and innovation policy

  • communications

  • public engagement.

The successful student will also be funded to speak at the SfAM Early Career Research Symposium (or other appropriate SfAM event) during the fourth year of the studentship. They will be expected to present their results either as a poster or an oral presentation.

The PhD student will be eligible to receive an automatic waiver for Article Publication Charges (APCs) when publishing in one of the Society for Applied Microbiology’s journals.

We also ask that the supervisor write an article for publication in the Microbiologist magazine within 12 weeks of being notified that their project and nominated student have been selected for the award. This could provide a spotlight on their career so far and outline any future plans, including how their research will benefit from them having been awarded this PhD Studentship.

Terms & conditions Terms & conditions
  1. Only applications from  staff eligible to supervise PhD students in their Higher Education establishment (e.g. university) or research institute offering PhD training and supervision will be considered for this award. Collaborations with non-academic research institutions are encouraged.

  2. The applicant must be an existing Full or ECS Member of the Society and have been so for a minimum of 24 months prior to the application deadline.

  3. SfAM will only fund the Tuition Fee (home rate) and Studentship (Research Council rate). No other costs will be allowed.

  4. Award of this SfAM grant must be acknowledged in any publications that arise from the research.

  5. A career spotlight article about the project supervisor (600 to 1,000 words) must be provided for the Microbiologist magazine and website within 12 weeks of being notified that they have been selected for the award.

  6. The successful student will also be funded to attend an SfAM event during the final year of the studentship and must present their results either as a poster, oral or other agreed type of presentation.

  7. Continuation of funding for each year of the studentship is subject to receipt of a satisfactory annual report, which must be submitted by 30 June, except for the final year.

  8. The SfAM President and/or General Secretary will visit the recipient’s laboratory annually. During these visits the student will be required to give them a 15-minute update presentation of their work and tour of their laboratory, if relevant.

  9. The successful candidate must join SfAM as an ECS Member (if not a member already) and attend the Early Career Scientist Symposium each year of the PhD programme.

  10. Where a period of parental leave is required during the studentship, this will be dealt with in line with UKRI policy as set out in ‘UKRI TGC 8.1 Maternity, Paternity, Adoption and Parental Leave’ (view online here).

  11. A successful applicant cannot re-apply to the fund.

  12. Bench fees are not covered by this grant.

  13. Payments will only be made to the academic institution of the successful student and supervisor. Payments are not made to individuals.

Application form

You must be a member to apply for this grant. If you are a member, please log in and return to this page to access the application form.


Stories of previous SfAM PhD students

08 May 2018
Deep sea sponges- the future of antimicrobials?

Marine sponges and the deep-sea ecosystem are comparatively under-studied and under-exploited compared with life in shallower waters – but a team of scientists from the University of Plymouth are identifying and developing potential new antimicrobials produced by the microbiome of sponges which live deep beneath the ocean surface.