This opportunity is now closed.

Funded PhD Opportunity

Space2Breathe – leveraging air-pollution sensing enabling smart city residents to live healthier.

Subject: Computer Science and Informatics


Summary

Ambient air pollution is the world’s leading environmental health risk and a pervasive threat to urban healthy living (Brook et al., 2017; Wells et al., 2018). Globally, air pollution causes more than 33% of deaths from strokes, lung disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and 25% of deaths from ischaemic heart disease. It is estimated that particulate air pollution causes at least 40,000 deaths per year in the United Kingdom and costs the national economy £16 billion annually (The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, 2017).

Internationally, pollution quelling measures are unlikely to produce measurable effect before 2050 (Kitous et al., 2017). Consequently, a reduction in exposure to air pollutants is the recommended course of action for those at risk of exposure (Halliwell et al., 2015; Kim et al., 2015; Brook et al., 2017), such as in an urban environment. Pervasive computing solutions can be used to gather sensor data indicating pollution level factors within an urban environment (Kumar et al., 2015; Alsamhi et al., 2018). Further modelling can determine risk and exposure related to an individual occupying an area. The output from this model may then be leveraged to inform at risk individuals to circumvent harmful exposure.

There are several solutions which aspire to achieve this outcome, however, they have a range of detractors which include:

-Inability to accurately model air-based pollutants in a high-resolution manner

-Reliance on models which require expensive sensing solutions, limiting applicability

-Absence of algorithms to accurately route individuals’ paths in a manner which adequately avoids harmful pollutants

-Incorporation of models which do not adequately incorporate topographical elements and pollutant dispersal

This project aims to draw on novel approaches to high resolution, near real-time modelling of urban air pollution using combinations of data sources from ground and satellite-based sensors and computational modelling of pollution aggregation and dispersion in an urban landscape.

These models and data sources would be leveraged by the candidate to explore several research avenues which may include:

i.Enhancement of current real time, high resolution air pollution models through additional data sources

ii.Exploration of the use of low-cost sensing elements to provide data to augment pollution mapping models.

iii.Investigation into producing a predictive model to forecasting health impacts of localised pollution

iv.Approaches to model exposure of individuals over time though their location history

v.Examination of methods of transport and effect on exposure levels

This project will leverage unique resources provided by the partner organisations. Ulster University will provide embedded sensing technologies, computing infrastructure and physical laboratory environments present within the School of Computing. Belfast City Council will offer access to data from sensors embedded within its smart city fabric and a platform to extend and deploy additional sensing elements. The Urban Healthy Living project will provide space-based sensing data and an associated augmented model incorporating ground-based sensing elements.  Several local health trusts will provide data and expertise to supplement findings. This project is aligned with a larger initiative which the partners have proposed.


Essential criteria

  • To hold, or expect to achieve by 15 August, an Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC) in a related or cognate field.

Funding

    The University offers the following awards to support PhD study and applications are invited from UK, EU and overseas for the following levels of support:

    Vice Chancellors Research Studentship (VCRS)

    Full award (full-time PhD fees + DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £15,000 maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Vice-Chancellor’s Research Bursary (VCRB)

    Part award (full-time PhD fees + 50% DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £7,500 maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fees Bursary (VCRFB)

    Fees only award (PhD fees + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Department for the Economy (DFE)

    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £ 15,009 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fee’s component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided). For Non-EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK. This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Due consideration should be given to financing your studies; for further information on cost of living etc. please refer to: www.ulster.ac.uk/doctoralcollege/postgraduate-research/fees-and-funding/financing-your-studies


Other information


The Doctoral College at Ulster University


Reviews

Profile picture of Adrian Johnston

As Senior Engineering Manager of Analytics at Seagate Technology I utilise the learning from my PhD ever day

Adrian Johnston - PhD in Informatics

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Key dates

Submission deadline
Monday 18 February 2019

Interview Date
25 to 29 March 2019


Applying

Apply Online  


Campus

Jordanstown campus

Jordanstown campus
The largest of Ulster's campuses


Contact supervisor

Dr Jose Santos


Other supervisors

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