An annual £800,000 research programme for postgraduate students to help promote innovation and develop the science base in Northern Ireland has been opened by Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots.

The 2022 DAERA Postgraduate Studentship competition funds local graduates to carry out specific research for the department while working towards a PhD qualification.

“I am delighted to open the latest DAERA Postgraduate programme which has been in operation for 50 years and seen over 500 PhD graduates making a significant contribution to research, education, policy development and innovation,” explained Minister Poots.

“Many of our DAERA-funded PhD graduates have gone on to become leaders in academia, industry and government, within NI but also world-wide.

"These research studentships contribute directly to our goals and key priorities for sustainable growth and innovation, while at the same time providing high level skills for local graduates.

“We are now offering 12 new three-year studentships, which will start on October 1, 2022,” added Minister Poots.

Applicants must select one of DAERA’s research needs for 2022 and submit a research proposal which is aligned to this before midnight on March 29, 2022.

Mags Smith, a first year DAERA-funded PhD student undertaking research into innovation within the dairy industry at Ulster University, said:

“Before I started my PhD in October I had a strong understanding of the challenges facing the agri-food industry in NI, and the research I am undertaking is reinforcing my recognition of the importance and need to innovate within this ever-changing environment.”