UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering


PhD studentship: Strategies for reducing indoor concentrations of Nitrogen Dioxide in buildings

22 May 2020

We are accepting applications for a funded PhD studentship in Strategies for reducing indoor concentrations of Nitrogen Dioxide in buildings.

Looking at the city through a window

The UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering (UCL IEDE) at the Bartlett School of Energy, Environment and Resources (BSEER) invites applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship focusing on strategies for reducing indoor concentrations of Nitrogen Dioxide in buildings, with a focus on filtration, removal and control of ventilation systems. 


Of 40,000 annual UK deaths associated with air pollution, 23,500 were associated with NO2¹, with costs to the NHS estimated to equal £230m by 2035². Filtration of some pollutants (e.g. particulates) has been shown to be effective and widely adopted within the building industry. However, strategies for reducing indoor NO2 concentrations are not currently well understood. Existing ventilation strategies aimed at removing indoor pollutants may in fact lead to higher penetration rates of NO2 from outdoors, whilst recent developments in sensor technologies mean there is potential for NO2 based ventilation control. 


The study aims to: 
-    Assess impact of filtration, removal and NO2 ventilation control 
-    Identify changes to energy consumption of ventilation systems
-    Measure further pollutants to examine co-variates and unintended consequences 
The student will conduct experimental field measurements in case study buildings, design intervention studies and assess their impact. The use of performance simulation models for buildings may also be appropriate, depending on the student’s interests and skills. 

The student will develop research skills in research design, field experimentation and data analysis, supported by relevant training courses and the expertise of the supervisory team. The student will benefit from networking with an expert community of PhD students and academics across UCL IEDE and BSEER. 


  • Primary supervisor: Dr Marcella Ucci, Associate Professor in Environmental and Healthy Buildings
  • Secondary supervisor: Dr Sam Stamp, Teaching Fellow
  • Scholarship covers: 4 years tuition fees (UK/EU rate); 4 years stipend (£17,285 for 2020/21, rising slightly with inflation each year)
  • Start Date: Autumn 2020
  • Funded by: EPSRC (DTP)
  • Funding Duration: 4 years 
  • Eligibility: In addition to UCL's academic requirements for admittance to Doctoral study, this studentship is subject to the following eligibility criteria.

Person Specification

  • The candidate will need strong analytical skills with an aptitude for academic enquiry, experimental design and building physics. Candidates should have:
  • A bachelor’s degree awarded with a minimum of upper second-class (2:1) honours, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard from a recognised higher education institute.
  • A Masters degree in engineering, building design, environmental sciences or other relevant disciplines.  Candidates without a Masters degree may be admitted where suitable research or professional experience is demonstrated.
  • A strong appreciation of building physics and air quality.
  • The ability to design and carry out experimental measurements as well as analysing data using quantitative means. 
  • Experience of modelling indoor air quality and/or building performance may be desirable but is not essential. 
  • Excellent numerical and computing skills.
  • The ability to use own initiative, prioritise workload and work as part of a team.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills (oral and written).

Application Procedure

Email a pre-application to bseer-phd-admin@ucl.ac.uk with “ESPRC DTP Nitrogen Dioxide” as the subject. Do not use the UCL online admissions system. 
The deadline for applications is: 09.00 am (BST), Thursday 18th June 2020
Please include:

  • A covering letter, clearly stating your motivation and your eligibility (see earlier)
  • Your CV, including examples of any published paper where applicable.
  • The 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. 1000 words), which includes a brief summary of the key literature in the field (and key knowledge gaps), and outlines possible approaches to the research questions/methods, taking into consideration the project’s aims (see earlier).

Informal enquiries on the content of the research topic or your eligibility should be emailed to Dr Marcella Ucci.

Interviews will be held online during the week of 22 June 2020.

 ¹ DEFRA, Air Pollution in the UK 2015, 2016
 ² Public Health England, Estimation of costs to the NHS and social care due to the health impacts of air pollution: summary report, 2018

Photo by Yucel Moran on Unsplash