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BBSRC White Rose DTP (WR DTP) in Mechanistic Biology: Diverse Talent Scholarships

The White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) is committed to creating a more diverse and inclusive environment within its postgraduate research programme. We encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply for a fully-funded PhD scholarship as part of the White Rose DTP.

  • Funding: A tax-free annual stipend at the standard UKRI rate (£15,609 for 2021/22 entry), research costs and tuition fees at UK rate
  • Academic year: 2022/23
  • Open to: UK (home) students
  • Qualification level: Postgraduate research
Applications for 2022/23 are closed.

The White Rose BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) in Mechanistic Biology brings together world-class molecular and cellular bioscience centres at the Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York, offering PhD projects in cutting-edge molecular, genetic and biochemical research. The DTP is committed to encouraging and supporting diverse talent. We are keen to attract the best talent from all backgrounds and encourage applications from candidates with outstanding potential, who will greatly benefit from the DTP training programme, and go on to contribute to UK and global society. 

By mapping on to the research themes of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, you'll benefit from a regional doctoral training programme that has interdisciplinary collaboration at its core. The aim is to enable you to develop a range of research skills in biological and biochemical areas as well as equip you with core mathematical, data analysis and generic professional skills that are necessary for bioscience research in the coming decades. You will experience cross-disciplinary supervision and undertake a three month professional internship with an external organisation.

The White Rose Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York offer complementary and shared strengths in advanced research areas including biological imaging and structural biology that are underpinned by investments in technologies cryo-EM and super resolution imaging as well as CLEM methodologies, which bring these two fields together. Further internationally leading facilities include Nanopore and next generation sequencing, mass spectrometry and synthetic biology. Multi-disciplinary centres such as the University of Leeds Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology, Imagine at the University of Sheffield and the York Bioscience Technology Facility, provide the infrastructure underpinning bioscience research in all three universities. Internationally recognized technical and academic staff enable us to provide an outstanding range of PhD training opportunities across a wide variety of experimental and computational methods, spanning maths, chemistry and physical science to enhance and support projects. The facilities and training courses associated with each centre are available to all students on the White Rose DTP.


Open to UK (home) students only.

You can apply if you have, or are expecting to gain, first-class or 2:1 honours degree in your undergraduate study (or a Merit or above in a Masters degree). Due to the interdisciplinary nature of this programme we welcome applications if your background is in any biological, chemical or physical science or mathematics and are interested in using your skills in addressing biological questions.

The White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) is committed to creating a more diverse and inclusive environment within its postgraduate research programme. We are working to increase diversity and are encouraging applications from candidates of all backgrounds with outstanding potential to apply.

English language

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. For more information see our Postgraduate English language requirements.

How to apply

Application deadline: Thursday 31 March 2022, 11.59pm BST

For this scholarship, you apply to the programme, not to a specific project. PhD projects are available at the Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York. Links to projects at Leeds and Sheffield can be found on the White Rose Mechanistic Biology DTP Diverse Talent Scholarship webpage. Projects at York are listed below along with a link to the primary supervisor’s research pages. Take some time to read through the lists and learn about the labs that are offering projects. Once you identify some projects that interest you, apply through the university that lists your top choice.

In order to widen access to postgraduate research to those who may not have previously considered a PhD as a viable option, we are working to improve the recruitment and selection process for applications to the White Rose DTP. As part of this, you will have the opportunity to provide a ‘contextual statement’ of about 150 words so you can tell us any details of your personal circumstances that you think are relevant. This information will help us with the decisions made by our selection panel during the short-listing for interviews. You may like to tell us about any of the following circumstances: your ethnicity; if you are in the first generation of your family to go to university; if you are from a low-income background or single-parent home; if you have received a means-tested scholarship; if you have a disability; or anything else you wish to disclose. We would also like to know about your motivation and what science excites you; so we also ask you to write about 250 words about your research interests.

As part of our efforts to improve the diversity of our postgraduate research students, we are also carrying out a separate survey to collect data about the socio-economic and ethnicity of all of our applicants. This is an anonymous survey that is not associated with your application nor will it impact your application in any way. We would appreciate it if you would help us by completing this survey.

How we allocate

Your application will include your undergraduate transcript, and other details of your academic background, as well as your statement of research interests and a contextual statement. We will also request references from two people (usually academics) who can support your application by telling us about your potential. A DTP selection panel representing the Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York will assess these documents during shortlisting and invite the best candidates for interview.

If you're shortlisted you'll be invited for an interview in April 2022. You'll be notified as soon as possible after the interview dates whether your application has been successful, placed on a reserve list or unsuccessful. If you are successful, you'll be required to confirm your intention to accept the studentship within 10 days.

Terms and conditions

The studentships are fully funded for four years and it is expected you will complete your PhD in four years. 

You'll receive a minimum ‘stipend’ of £15,609 per year for your living costs, which is paid to you in regular instalments. The stipend is a kind of salary for postgraduate students that is tax free and does not need to be paid back. It is what you use to pay your rent and food and other living expenses. Your tuition fees and lab costs are also paid for by this scholarship.

As a member of the York Graduate Research School, you'll study throughout the whole year, working for at least 35 hours per week, and will have a usual annual leave entitlement (normally 30 days over the year plus public holidays). You are encouraged to make use of your leave and have a responsibility to discuss the timing of this with your supervisor (for longer periods of holiday) and recording leave taken throughout the year. Students working in collaboration with non-academic partners are expected to bear in mind their obligations to those partners in planning leave.

You must adhere to the University’s regulations, policies and guidance regarding research degree programmes

As part of the York White Rose DTP programme you are expected to attend all mandatory meetings and training sessions scheduled by the DTP and by the lead Department.

Contact details

Biology Postgraduate Admissions
+44 (0)1904 32 8546


The Diverse Talent Scholarships are PhD studentships that are part of the White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership. The WR DTP includes a wide range of research groups addressing diverse biological problems using interdisciplinary approaches and innovative research tools. BBSRC-funded research across the partnership supports a broad selection of supervisors at the Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York offering PhD projects within the BBSRC remit. The projects available at York for the 2022 intake include the following:

PhD projects available at the University of York (Departments of Biology and Chemistry)

  • Daniela Barilla: Probing mechanisms that couple genome segregation to chromosome organization in Archaea
  • Katherine Bridge:  Development of synthetic nucleic acids (aptamers) as modulators of transcription factor structure/function, to engineer haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs)
  • Nia Bryant: Delineating insulin-action pathways
  • Dawn Coverley: The role of CIZ1 in epigenome protection
  • Seth Davis:  Mechanistic characterisation of the perception of evening coolness in Arabidopsis
  • Katherine Denby:  How does the fungal pathogen Botrytis cinerea regulate its virulence mechanisms and can we use network re-wiring for plant immunity?
  • Daphne Ezer: Conservation of light-dependent immunity pathways in greenhouse crops
  • Joana Correia Faria: Dissecting the molecular machine responsible for singular antigen expression and immune evasion in African trypanosomes using cryoEM.
  • Paul Fogg: Genetic and molecular dissection of the effect of viruses on bacterial fitness and antibiotic resistance evolution.
  • Ville Friman: Developing phage therapy to reduce plant pathogen virulence
  • Ian Graham: How did opium poppy evolve to make morphine?
  • Michelle Hawkins: Roles of helicases in the prevention of replication and transcription machinery collisions.
  • Chris Hill: Structure and dynamics of enterovirus IRES-ribosome complexes
  • Mark Leake:  Exploring how bacteria use membraneless liquid droplets to maintain their fitness
  • Benji Lichman: Mapping genes to metabolic networks: integrating omics for metabolic gene discovery
  • Chris MacDonald: Defining mechanisms that govern spatiotemporal organization of the plasma membrane
  • Michael Plevin: Regulation of Leishmania gene expression: structure and function of RNA binding proteins and response to arginine methylation
  • Kelly Redeker:  Improving anaerobic digester (AD) efficiency through quantifying complex microbial metabolisms and improved system modelling
  • Jenny Southgate: How does reciprocal crosstalk between epithelium and immune cells contribute to healthy tissue homeostasis?
  • Thierry Tonon: Uncovering the biological roles of recently discovered carbohydrate-active enzymes in green microalgae.
  • Dani Ungar:  Mechanistic dissection of intra-Golgi vesicle targeting
  • Bob White:  Protection against transcription-mediated damage to tRNA genes
  • Gavin Wright: Structural architecture of a vaccine target for the parasitic livestock disease animal African trypanosomiasis.
  • Kevin Cowtan: Automated modelling of protein-nucleotide complexes using X-ray data and AlphaFold models
  • Gideon Grogan: Engineering ATP-grasp enzymes for the Preparation of Pharmaceutical Amides
  • Chris Spicer: Exploring the role of RuBisCo binding domains in algal carbon fixation
  • Paul Walton: Magnetic spectroscopy and magnetometry studies of metalloenzymes for biomass utilisation

If these project topics at the University of York interest you:

Apply now