ILRI sponsors Compass PhD project 

We are excited to announce a new partnership between Compass – the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Computational Statistics and Data Science – and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

International Livestock Research Institute

The first step in this new partnership is a co-funded and co-created PhD research project entitled A spatially explicit assessment of agro-pastoral sustainability in Kenya and Ethiopia. The aim of the PhD project is to develop a framework for the assessment of sustainability dynamics in ecologically important areas used by agro-pastoral and pastoral households. Mountainous areas are important water towers and reserves of biodiversity in East Africa, and conservation of such areas is important to stop degradation of the surrounding arid lowlands. However, population pressure and food demands continue to rise, so a sustainable balance between land use and land stewardship must be struck. The PhD project will build upon methods of agricultural sustainability assessment, and make use of spatial statistics to bring together data from household surveys, soil and water measurements, and remote sensing. The resulting analysis will contribute to the understanding of current human-environment interactions in the two study locations, and form the basis for developing scenarios considering the pros and cons of potential future changes. The PhD contributes to the ESSA project, and will operate in Yabelo, South-East Ethiopia, and the Taita Hills, South East Kenya.

“Coming from a geography background, the Compass-ILRI partnership is a fantastic opportunity for me to elevate my skill-set and apply cutting edge statistical techniques to the challenge of sustainable food security. ILRI are a world leader in agricultural research and I am really looking forward to learning from them and contributing to their important goal.” Dan Milner, Compass PhD student.

Dan Milner, Compass-ILRI PhD student

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) works for better lives through livestock in developing countries. ILRI is co-hosted by Kenya and Ethiopia, has 14 offices across Asia and Africa, employs some 700 staff.

ILRI is a CGIAR research centre, a global research partnership for a food-secure future. CGIAR science is dedicated to reducing poverty, enhancing food and nutrition security, and improving natural resources and ecosystem services. Its research is carried out by 15 CGIAR centres in close collaboration with hundreds of partners, including national and regional research institutes, civil society organizations, academia, development organizations and the private sector.

Compass is a 4-year PhD training programme focusing on Computational Statistics and Data Science. This new venture with ILRI is part of the Compass mission to promote academic and professional agility in its students, equipping them with the skills and experience to work across disciplines in academia and beyond.

Prof Andrew Dowsey from the Bristol Veterinary School supervises the project: “A sustainable global future with sustainable food security is a core theme of our research at Bristol Veterinary School. I am excited to be a part of our further strengthening of collaborations with ILRI centred on a truly multi-disciplinary approach to this problem, underpinned by data science.”

Compass Director, Prof. Nick Whiteley comments: Compass acts as a hub for PhD research in Statistics and Data Science at the University of Bristol. I’m delighted to connect our training programme in the School of Mathematics with research expertise at the Bristol Veterinary School and our new partner ILRI. This is a great opportunity for a PhD student to get a flying start in their research career, bringing cutting-edge statistical methods to bear on a topic with global implications.

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