UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources


PhD Studentship opportunity at UCL ISR on modelling and assessing the impacts of energy production

12 May 2016

Quad (c) UCL

Fully funded PhD Studentship on modelling and assessing the impacts of energy production and conversion on the Environment-Energy Nexus


•    Title: Modelling the impacts of energy production and conversion on the  Environment-Energy Nexus
•    Supervisors:
Dr Paolo Agnolucci, Senior Lecturer in Environmental and Resource Economics,
Prof Paul Ekins, Professor of Energy and Environment Policy,
Dr Nicola Beaumont, Plymouth Marine Laboratory
•    Eligibility: You will need to meet residence requirements – https://www.epsrc.ac.uk/skills/students/help/eligibility.
Relaxation of student eligibility requirements, as described in the link above, will be considered for exceptional candidates on a case by cases basis
•    Stipend: £16,057 & fees
•    Start Date: October 2016
•    Funding Duration: 4 years 

The UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources, with the Plymouth Marine Laboratory, invites applications for a fully funded 4-year PhD studentship covering fees plus stipend as part of the ADVENT project – more details below. This PhD studentship is centred on modelling and assessing the impacts of energy production and conversion technologies on the Environment-Energy nexus The project has a specific focus on the natural capital implications of energy technologies poised to deliver low carbon energy in the UK. The research will require the integration of different modelling and assessment methodologies to develop and implement an interdisciplinary approach which takes into account aspects including: behaviour of complex systems, environmental valuation, energy-environment relationships, long and complex causal chain, nested systems, time-delays and uncertainty. The research will benefit from Defra plans to make an unprecedented number of datasets available to the public (https://defradigital.blog.gov.uk/2015/06/25/opendefra). Employed methodologies will enable the modelling of relationships between production and conversion of energy and related impacts.

The successful candidate is expected to be at ease or become familiar with a variety of disciplines, including the natural sciences, social sciences, statistics and modelling. The student will be able to select the methodologies for modelling and assessment, and the energy conversion and production technologies targeted in their research based on their own interest, aptitude and previous research. In a nutshell, this is your opportunity to push the boundaries of the methodologies used to master the complexity of the energy – environment Nexus, and deliver rigorous analyses to identify environmental impacts of energy production and conversion technologies. The ideal student will have a passion for data analysis, an inquisitive mind, a taste for pushing their own expertise further and further with new methodologies, and an aptitude for modelling and programming.

Your analysis will be valuable in its own right as an important contribution to the modelling and assessing of the impacts arising from the deployment of energy production and conversion technologies but also to support the assessment of the environmental impacts of low-carbon energy pathways for the UK.  This is very good opportunity for talented students to work with a network of academics in the environmental and energy fields giving unparalleled access to data, policy knowledge and professional contacts.

Person Specification

•    Passionate about inter-disciplinary data analysis
•    A self-motivated researcher willing to develop their technical and analytical skills and to contribute to the overall aims of the research project in innovative ways
•    A MSc degree in a quantitative discipline e.g. data science, economics, statistics, engineering, machine learning, environmental science
•    Knowledge of relevant software or programming languages (R and Python would be preferable)
•    Ability to use own initiative and prioritise workload
•    Good interpersonal and communication skills (oral and written)
•    Strong organisational skills
•    A high level of attention to detail in working methods

Application Procedure

•    Stage 1 - Pre-application documents below should be emailed directly to Mae Oroszlany at e.oroszlany@ucl.ac.uk
1)    CV
2)    academic transcripts
3)    1-page personal statement outlining motivation, interest and eligibility for the post
4)    Name and contact details of those providing an Academic Reference for you – references will NOT be taken at this stage
5)    if applicable, pdf copy of the two most important pieces of research work you contributed. Please state clearly your contribution in case of jointly authored work.

•    Stage 2 - Following the interview, the successful candidate will be invited to make a formal application to the UCL Research Degree programme. Further guidance will be provided.
References may be asked before the interview after consent from candidates to do so.
Please note that if English is NOT your first language, you will need to provide evidence that you meet the UCL's English Language requirements. Any offer made will be subject to references and proof of meeting the UCL English language requirements.
Informal queries on the content of the research topic should be emailed to Dr Paolo Agnolucci, p.agnolucci@ucl.ac.uk

Deadline for application:  12/06/2016
Start Date: 01/10/2016

The ADVENT Project:

ADVENT (Addressing Valuation of Energy and Nature Together) is a 5 year research project funded by NERC as part of the RCUK Energy Programme.  It involves a consortium of seven partner institutions and aims to develop conceptual frameworks and modelling tools to integrate the analysis of prospective UK energy pathways with considerations relating to the value of natural capital.  This will include quantifying the implications of differing future UK low-carbon energy pathways for stocks of natural capital (e.g. groundwater and natural habitats) and for the provision of ecosystem services (e.g. irrigation, visual amenity, recreation).  In addition, the project will compare the outcomes of different methodologies to value changes in ecosystem services and provide guidelines regarding the application of such approaches.  Ultimately, the project seeks to provide both public and private sector decision makers with tools that allow them to take a whole-systems perspective on energy futures in a way that integrates energy and environmental considerations.

PhD Programme

Developing future research capacity at the interface of energy and environmental research is an important objective of ADVENT.  To this end eight PhD studentships of 3-4 years duration are being funded from NERC and consortium partner resources.  The holders of these studentships will benefit from being part of a large research team and associated project activities, including a series of workshops to provide advanced research training.  ADVENT is also affiliated to the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) and the NERC Valuing Nature Programme so there will be opportunities to participate in events run by these initiatives.