The Project Sunshine Centre for Doctoral Training is jointly funded by a gift from the Inge Sugden Will Trust and investment from the University of Sheffield. Project Sunshine PhD students are working on research under the guidance of world-leading supervisory teams from across science, engineering and social sciences.

Mrs Sugden was the owner and a director of Surmanco Ltd, a Sheffield based company prominent in the manufacture of surgical instruments and scissors. She left her substantial estate to be distributed among charities devoted to environmental concerns or to the welfare of animals and birds.

The first cohort of the Project Sunshine CDT (2012-2016) at the University of Sheffield brings together the following interdisciplinary research projects:

  1. Efficient polymer photovoltaic devices based on amorphous polymeric semiconductors
  2. Optimal foraging theory for root proliferation in heterogeneous soils
  3. The Northern Hemisphere polar jet stream and its effect on regional climate during 1871-2100
  4. Optically driven impedance spectroscopy instrument for photovoltaic cells.
  5. Biofuels from algae
  6. Light-driven hybrid molecular catalysts for solar H2 production

The second cohort (2013-2017) brings together the following interdisciplinary research projects:

  1. A mathematical modelling approach for selecting cropping systems
  2. Characterising the nanoscale morphology of polymer : fullerene photovoltaic blends
  3. Evolutionary history as a key to understanding future ecosystems
  4. From model to morphology: understanding leaf shape to optimize photosynthesis
  5. High resolution imaging of energy transfer in nano-patterned light harvesting protein systems
  6. Imaging the machinery for biological solar energy conversion in plants using torsional tapping atomic force microscopy
  7. Light-driven CO2 reduction into “chemical fuels” – a photoelectrochemical approach
  8. Mobilisation and use of natural soil phosphorous by crops: towards sustainable crop production
  9.  Novel routes to clubroot resistance in Brassica crops
  10. Plant resistance to extreme weather conditions
  11. Sun-Earth Connection web-based interactive database and analysis system
  12. Understanding the regulation of photosynthesis and metabolism by protein modification in rice leaves
  13. Waking the silent majority: predicting and preventing the democratic deficit in wind farm siting

Further information about these projects is available via the following PDFs: Project Sunshine CDT cohorts 1 and 2 descriptions.

In 2014 the University of Sheffield, in collaboration with the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, created the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures. The Centre launched an innovative new PhD programme to equip the next generation of interdisciplinary sustainability researchers with the skills to become advocates. Visit