TIPPECC Scholarships

The University of Botswana is inviting applications for two PhD and two MSc fully funded "TIPPECC Scholarships" to support talented individuals to undertake research projects within this SASSCAL II funded research – ‘climate change information for adapting to regional tipping points in southern Africa'. The studentships will commence from the 8th  of August 2022 and will be based in the Department of Environmental Science, University of Botswana, Gaborone. Each PhD scholarship has a total value of Euros 17,480 and each MSc scholarship has a total value of Euros 12,278.56 which includes tuition fees and accommodation fees as stated in the University of Botswana calendar and a stipend of Euros 760/year. Travel along the drought corridor and attendance at workshops have been budgeted for independently of these allowances.

PhD Dissertation Topics

PhD Research Project 1 – Landscape connectivity along the drought corridor

This scholarship aims to investigate the optimal geographical re-instatement of Balinsky’s (1962) ‘drought corridor’ (today termed the KALARIVA-TFCL: the Kalahari – Rift Valley Trans Frontier Conservation Landscape, Perkins*, 2020) between eastern and southern Africa, in order to enable African wildlife to successfully adapt to climate change. The primary focus of the PhD dissertation project will be on the use of landscape connectivity software to identify the modern drought corridor. This project will include substantive GIS/RS work as well as travel between eastern and southern Africa. The successful candidate is expected to attend a fully funded landscape connectivity course under the direction of Prof Sam Cushman at the US Forestry Service, Colorado, USA.

Applicants should have:-

  • Proven competence in GIS/RS and therefore an ability to undertake the required landscape connectivity analysis.
  • Interests and courses relevant to the PhD topic.

Academic Supervisors

  • Prof Jeremy Perkins, Associate Professor in Environmental Science, University of Botswana, Gaborone
  • Prof Samuel Cushman, Senior Research Landscape Ecologist, Rocky Mountain Research Station, in Flagstaff, Arizona, USA
  • To be decided
     

PhD Research Project 2 – ‘CBNRM and KALARIVA’

This scholarship aims to insert the all essential community based element into the identification of the ‘optimal’ location of Balinsky’s (1962) drought corridor (today termed the KALARIVA-TFCL: the Kalahari – Rift Valley Trans Frontier Conservation Landscape, Perkins*, 2020) between eastern and southern Africa. The successful candidate is expected to work closely with PhD Research Project 1 and provide relevant socio-economic and land use planning data between eastern and southern Africa to help optimise the location of the drought corridor. While much of this data exists already and will need to be successfully sourced by the successful applicant, extensive travel throughout the drought corridor is envisaged to facilitate this activity. This project will include substantive GIS/RS work as well as travel between eastern and southern Africa. The successful candidate is expected to attend a fully funded landscape connectivity course under the direction of Prof Sam Cushman at the US Forestry Service, Colorado, USA. The spatial identification of ‘pinch points’ in terms of existing land use/land cover and the best way in which they can be overcome will form an important focus of the research. It aims in particular to identify:-

  • the existing key barriers to movement and the related ‘pinch points’ along the drought corridor as well as those that will emerge from future climate modelling
  • recommend the location of ‘co-existence corridors’ where conservation areas are linked together by wildlife movement through connectivity corridors, where local communities and wildlife ‘co-exist’.

Applicants should have:-

  • Proven competence and understanding of Community Based Natural Resource Management and Governance issues (preferably along the drought corridor).
  • Ability to work with spatial tools such as Google Earth
  • Proven competence in GIS/RS and therefore an ability to undertake the required landscape connectivity analysis.

Academic Supervisors

  • Prof Jeremy Perkins, Associate Professor, Department of Environmental Science, University of Botswana
  • Prof Kutlwano Mulale  Associate Professor, Department of Environmental Science, University of Botswana
  • Mr K.Tlhalerwa, Department of Environmental Science, University of Botswana

MSc Research Projects

MSc Research Project 1

Unprecedented multi-year droughts in combination with oppressive temperatures imply tipping points in the cattle industry, maize crop as well as biodiversity conservation in southern Africa. MSc Research Project 1 will focus upon the latter, in particular the

  • Establishment of biodiversity tipping points at the regional scale on the basis of regional climate projections along the drought corridor
  • Establish regional biodiversity projections based on projections of future climate change predictions (obtained from the climate modelling team)
  • Establish the key biodiversity loss and agricultural loss trade-offs that must be made (by working with the two PhD research projects (above) and the MSc Project 2 below).

Applicants should have:-

  • Knowledge in the biophysical realm of biodiversity conservation
  • Ability to assimilate and analyse complex and diverse data sets relating to biodiversity along the drought corridor and the key climate variables generated by the climate component of the broader TIPPECC project (e.g. the biothermal envelope and the implications of its predicted nature and rate of change on biodiversity along the drought corridor.

Academic Supervisors

  • Prof Jeremy Perkins, Associate Professor, Department of Environmental Science, University of Botswana
  • Dr Emily Bennitt,  Senior Lecturer, Okavango Research Institute, University of Botswana, Botswana.

 

MSc Research Project 2

The impact of the predicted climate changes on the agricultural sector (cattle and maize) along the drought corridor will form the focus of this MSc Research Project. MSc Research Project 2 will focus upon the:-

  • Establishment of tipping points (cattle and maize) at the regional scale on the basis of regional climate projections along the drought corridor
  • Establish agricultural projections (cattle and maize) based on projections of future climate change
  • Establish the key agricultural loss and biodiversity loss trade-offs that must be made (by working with the two PhD research projects (above) and the MSc Project 2 below).

Applicants should have:-

  • Knowledge in the agricultural realm – livestock and maize in particular
  • Ability to assimilate and analyse complex and diverse data sets relating to agriculture along the drought corridor and the key climate variables

Academic Supervisors

  • Prof Jeremy Perkins, Associate Professor, Department of Environmental Science, University of Botswana
  • To be decided

General Commitments (All Scholarships)

  • A willingness to travel and work effectively as part of the broader TIPPECC team
  • To return any and all equipment to their home institution at the completion of the programme unless explicitly authorised.
  • To ensure that all data and research outputs are made publicly available, as set out by the University of Botswana Lead Supervisor, subject to a maximum embargo of one year to allow for publications to be made.
  • Agree that their photograph, name, and brief overview of their research topic, can be made available online, on the overarching research programme websites.
  • To undertake any required training, including in research ethics and integrity and academic honesty, as directed by their supervisors.
  • To undertake comprehensive risk assessments and to make best efforts to ensure that they comply with all necessary health and safety precautions throughout their programme of study.
  • Undertake fieldwork excursions in along the drought corridor as necessary to collect field observations and samples in support of their dissertation projects as well as projects undertaken by other TIPPECC scholars, which may include travel to and overnight stays in remote areas.
  • To remain engaged with their studies and make satisfactory progress on the programme.

Entry Requirements

The candidates should have a passion to learn about climate change and a belief in the basic premise that a re-instatement of Balinsky’s (1962) ‘drought corridor’ concept presents a viable form of adaptive management to the challenges facing biodiversity conservation and agriculture in Africa (Perkins, 2020). An understanding of environmental change in Africa, a good grounding in environmental science/geography, with a good understanding of both the biophysical and human environment is essential. Candidates should be prepared to develop skills in quantitative analysis, and contribute to a positive work environment, supporting best practice in equality, diversity, and inclusivity.

Applicants intending to study for the Master of Science Degree in Environmental Science should have a degree from the University of Botswana or any other equivalent institution, attaining at least a good Second Class (Lower Division) or its equivalent in Environmental Science or any other cognate subject (e.g. Geography, Wildlife Management, Natural Resources Management, Forestry) approved by the Board of the Department of Environmental Science as a major subject.

To be admitted to the PhD Programmes applicants must have completed a Major/Minor, Combined Major/Major, or Single Major Degree Programme in Environmental Science or a cognate discipline (e.g. Geography, Natural Resources Management, Wildlife Management, Forestry, etc.) of the University of Botswana or equivalent institution. Applicants must also have obtained at least a second class (upper division). Candidates whose degrees are not Single Major must attain an upper second grade in the portion of the Degree that is relevant to Environmental Science.

Candidates must hold citizenship of an African Nation to be eligible for this funding. Preference will be given to suitably qualified Botswana applicants.  

How to Apply

To apply for any one of the above scholarships, please send the following documents in a single email addressed to the ‘Scholarship Assessment Committee’ at tippeccscholarshipsub@gmail.com.

  • Letter of application (2-page max. outlining your motivation to undertake this project, academic interests, and prior research experience).
  • CV (2-pages max)
  • Transcript(s) giving full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained (this should be an interim transcript if you are still studying)
  • Written references (no more than one page each) from two professional/academic referees familiar with your work.
  • Please indicate clearly which one of the four scholarships you are applying for.
     

The closing date for applications is midnight on the 29th July 2022 (Botswana time; GMT+2).  Interviews will be held virtually and are expected to happen on the 2nd August.

The successful candidates will be required to apply to the University of Botswana for admission onto the PhD or MSc in Environmental Science programmes accordingly. Before applying, familiarize yourself with the UB requirements. The information is available at this website: https://www.ub.bw/study/graduate-applications

Project-specific queries should be directed to the Main Project Coordinator Prof Jeremy Perkins (perkinsjs@ub.ac.bw).

In pursuit of academic excellence