UCL Energy Institute


Apply for our PhD Studentship in Modelling children's exposure to air pollution

10 June 2017

UCL IEDE, UCL-Energy and Public Health England (PHE) are seeking applications for a fully funded studentship in Modelling children’s exposure to air pollution in deprived communities

air pollution

The UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering and UCL Energy Institute in collaboration with Public Health England (PHE) are seeking applications for a fully funded studentship on the topic: “Quantifying the benefits of measures to reduce exposure of deprived communities to indoor and outdoor sources of air pollutants”. 

Funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) through the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Energy Demand (LoLo CDT) (http://www.lolo.ac.uk/) and co-funded by Public Health England this exciting project will aim to identify the specific factors that influence the exposure to air pollution of deprived communities, to quantify the exposure of children and to quantify the public health benefits of policy interventions aiming to reduce air pollution exposure and health inequalities. This will be achieved by using a novel integrated modelling tool that will combine building physics, indoor and outdoor air pollution and population exposure models.

The LoLo CDT provides world-class PhD training, including opportunities to work with leading researchers, placements with industry and a comprehensive skills and development programme. As a student joining the LoLo CDT at UCL you will join an active research group, in a unique student-focused environment with ample opportunities to engage with leading researchers, industry and policy makers. In addition to the university doctoral training requirements, LoLo students take part in an exciting range of activities, ranging from residential events and group projects, to conferences and careers events.

Our four-year funded PhD programme combines a one year Master of Research (MRes) and three year doctorate (PhD). This structure builds a firm foundation of skills, knowledge and research experience, steadily progressing into world-leading research.

About the project

Supervisors: Dr Sani Dimitroulopoulou, PHE and UCL; Prof Mike Davies, UCL; Prof Mike Ashmore, University of York; Dr Jonathon Taylor, UCL.

Studentship: The studentship will cover home fees and an enhanced stipend of up to a maximum of £18,285 per year (current rate) for eligible applicants for four years (start date September 2017), along with a substantial budget for research, travel, and centre activities. Non-EU applicants are not eligible for funding unless they meet EPSRC eligibility criteria https://www.epsrc.ac.uk/skills/students/help/eligibility/.


The adverse effects of air pollution on human health are well documented; there is increasing public and political awareness of its impact on public health. The current public health messages emphasise that deprived communities may live in areas with higher levels of outdoor air pollution, close to heavy road traffic, without mentioning the impact of the indoor environment on their exposure.

This PhD proposal addresses an important gap in knowledge regarding how deprivation influences the population exposure in indoor environments to nitrogen dioxide and particles, from indoor and outdoor sources. Exposures are influenced by the type and quality of dwellings and building characteristics, which define the ventilation characteristics, the number of occupants, including overcrowded dwellings, the occupant activities and other indoor sources.
It will use a new modelling framework that will combine building physics, indoor and outdoor air quality and population exposure models, thus offering considerable advantages over previous methods. It will provide new research evidence of public health relevance by comparing the benefits of different interventions in deprived communities which aim to reduce the exposure to air pollution, and identify interventions that will have greatest overall benefit, while also reducing health inequalities.

This project will provide a unique opportunity for multi-disciplinary research training platform for the student, including elements of environmental science, energy demand, outdoor and indoor air pollution, social science, exposure assessment, housing policy and public health, based on a range of modelling tools and GIS software. 

Research hypotheses

Hypothesis 1: Children population exposure to nitrogen dioxide and particles in deprived communities is higher than that of children in the general population, due to differences in the location, condition and occupancy of the dwellings and the indoor activities of occupants.

Hypothesis 2: Policy interventions, which address a combination of factors affecting outdoor and indoor air pollution, can achieve larger reductions in population exposure to air pollution in deprived communities than in the general population, and hence reduce health inequalities.

Personal specficiation of applicant (specific skills required)

Applicants are welcomed with good degrees (min 2:1) from diverse backgrounds, reflecting our multidisciplinary research; previous experience of energy and buildings is not required. The project is well-suited to a highly-quantitative individual with strong computing skills.

The successful candidate is expected to possess the following qualities:

  • Passionate about modelling, programming and conducting research;
  • Knowledge of relevant statistical software or programming languages (such as C++, R, MATLab);
  • Ability to use own initiative and prioritise workload;
  • Good interpersonal and communication skills (oral and written);
  • A high level of attention to detail in working methods.

How to apply

Your pre-application should be submitted by email direct to Mae Oroszlany (e.oroszlany@ucl.ac.uk) and not on the UCL online admissions system. Application deadline midday 26th June 2017 and should include the following:

  • A covering letter clearly stating your motivation, and stating your understanding of eligibility according to these guidelines: https://www.epsrc.ac.uk/skills/students/help/eligibility/
  • CV
  • Names and addresses of two academic referees
  • A copy of your degree certificate(s) and transcript(s) of degree(s),   
  • A short research proposal (max. 2000 words) written by taking into consideration the project research questions.

Interviews will be held on 3rd July 2017.


About the UCL Energy Institute/EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Energy Demand


The UCL Energy Institute delivers world-leading teaching, research and policy support in the fields of buildings, energy systems, people and energy, policy and law, smart energy and transport. These research themes are not mutually exclusive, and many researchers work across two or more themes, ensuring a truly interdisciplinary approach to energy research. Our approach blends expertise from across UCL, to make a truly interdisciplinary contribution to the development of a globally sustainable energy system.

The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Energy Demand (LoLo CDT) is the premier centre for energy demand research in the built environment in the UK, bringing together two leading energy research universities, UCL and

Loughborough University. LoLo focusses on lowering energy demand from our built stock, currently responsible for over 40% of UK emissions, and to addressing fuel affordability. We aim to undertake world class research addressing timely challenges and produce a new generation of multi-disciplinary thinkers and innovators capable of engineering a smart, low-energy future.

About Public Health England


Public Health England (PHE) is an Executive Agency of the UK Department of Health (DH) with responsibility for all aspects of public health in England. PHE is dedicated to protecting people’s health in the UK. This is achieved by providing impartial advice and authoritative information on health protection issues to the public, communities, professionals and government. The advice provided is independent of government and this is enshrined within the code of conduct. PHE combines public health and scientific expertise, research and emergency planning within the organisation. PHE’s remit covers infectious disease, hazardous chemicals and radiation. The Centre for Radiation, Chemical & Environmental Hazards (CRCE) provides all the specialist research and advice on chemical and radiological issues within PHE.

The air pollution group is a very active research group within CRCE/PHE, specialising in applied outdoor and indoor air pollution research involving exposure modelling, epidemiologic and health impact assessment methods. It is the ideal environment for the student to develop this research project, receive co-supervision on exposure modelling and interact with other leading researchers and policy makers in this area. This PhD project will help expand the current PHE Air Pollution and Public Health Programme of work to cover key aspects of outdoor and indoor air quality in relation with health inequalities.

About Stockholm Environment Institute/University of York


The Stockholm Environment Institute at the University of York (SEI/UoY) is one of the constituent centres  of  the Stockholm Environment Institute, an independent, international research organisation committed to the implementation of practices supportive of global sustainable development. SEI/UoY conducts a comprehensive research, consulting and training programme which focuses on the links between the ecological, social and economic systems at global, regional and national and local levels. The York centre is located within the Environment Department at the University.

The research group at SEI/UoY is the best placed academic partner to co-supervise work on the modelling of personal exposure to a range of pollutants. The academic supervisor has a long experience on monitoring and modelling of personal exposure to air pollution, including studies on CO, NO2 and particles, in a range of locations. Collaborative links already established within SEI UoY will provide access to a wide range of expertise and information of relevance to the modelling of personal exposure within deprived communities.