Research Experience Placements

We currently have one paid placement available for undergraduates in quantitative sciences to gain valuable research experience in projects that sit within the NERC remit. The projects can be done remotely with students able to work from home.

Placement will take place over the summer holiday (for a minimum of 6 weeks and a maximum of 10 weeks) between June and early September 2020. The supervisor’s preference would be for someone to work full-time hours, but would be happy to accept part-time hours over a longer period for the right candidate. Students will be paid living wage standards up to a total of £2500.

The selected student must meet all of the following criteria to be eligible for a REP. The student must be:

  • studying for an undergraduate degree in a quantitative discipline (e.g. mathematics, statistics, computing, engineering, physics) outside of NERC’s scientific remit at Cardiff University
  • applying for a placement in a different department to their undergraduate degree.
  • undertaking their first undergraduate degree studies, or integrated Masters (note those currently in their final year will have finished their degree before the start of the placement and so will NOT be eligible).
  • expected to obtain a first or upper second class UK honours degree.
  • eligible for subsequent NERC PhD funding (i.e. UK, EU or right to remain in the UK).

Project 1: Analysing satellite data to drive reservoir management

Earth observations for improving water resources.

 The Living Wales project ( is researching the use of existing or developing new methods for retrieving environmental descriptors from Earth observation (EO) data that can be combined to generate national (Wales-wide) land cover and evidence-based change maps.  Working with Dr Rupert Perkins and with the support of Dwr Cymru, this project is focusing on the use of optical EO data for monitoring concentrations of cyanobacteria (calculated as ug/l), as these have been determined to be the primary source for metabolites (Geosmin and MIB) that lead to poor taste and odour in drinking water supplies.

Applicants will be students who are currently (and will still be a registered student at the end of the project) on BSc or integrated Masters (e.g. four-year MESci) degree programmes. Suitable applicants will be involved in engineering, physics, remote sensing or data analysis studies. This is to meet the funder (NERC) requirements to enable non-NERC remit students to experience NERC research projects in interdisciplinary research.

The project is fully funded at 6 weeks duration (full time) for summer 2020, but can be modified to be part time over 10 weeks if needed. The exact nature of the project will be determined by Covid-19 status as this will either be home-based research or a mixture of home-based work with some field work. The full details of the project are below.

The project will focus on the Pontsticill/Pentwyn reservoirs north of Merthyr Tydfil, where taste and odour issues have arisen in the past.  For this area, time-series of optical data acquired by the Landsat, Sentinel-2 and Planet sensors will be obtained and pre-processed to an analysis ready format.   From the surface reflectance products, indices and other algorithms that have been shown as useful for retrieving cyanobacteria will be reviewed and evaluated for the study site.  Comparisons will be made against existing ground truth data initially to evaluate potential.  However, if feasible, field data will be collected across the reservoir during one or more periods that are coincident with the satellite acquisitions.   For this, an EXO Sonde probe will be used from a boat and based on a pre-determined sample design. At the same time, an octocopter drone with multispectral sensors will be flown over the reservoir to obtain a wall-to-wall coverage.   Relationships will then be established between the drone sensor data and the field (boat) measurements to determine whether high-resolution retrieval of cyanobacteria concentrations to acceptable levels of accuracy is achievable.   A similar exercise will then be conducted to relate the drone-derived product or the field data themselves to same-date satellite sensor data to evaluate potential for routine monitoring.    The project is expected to assess the feasibility of using remote sensing (both from drones and satellite sensor optical data) for routine monitoring of locations of cyanobacteria biomass, thereby addressing issues surrounding taste and odour in Welsh reservoirs.  An outcome will be recommendations for national monitoring.

How to apply

Complete this application form by Friday 12th June :

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to interview and notified of the date shortly.

Interviews will be conducted online.

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