Research Associate

University of Bath - Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering

We are witnessing the highest level of human displacement ever recorded. There are currently 21 million refugees under the mandate of UNHCR and UNRWA, and a total of 65 million displaced persons, half of whom are children. Around the globe, long-term encampment has unfortunately become a central element of the humanitarian response to this mass movement of people displaced by conflict and natural disasters.

Displacement camps are most often sited in locations with extreme climates: in deserts, jungles and mountainous regions, for example Jordan, Thailand, and Pakistan. The emergency dwellings initially provided by humanitarian agencies, such as tents or shacks made from lightweight uninsulated materials are only designed for short term accommodation and are ineffective against high summer temperatures, or cold winters. In regions that experience significant rainfall there is the challenge of keeping the interior of units dry and free from rot. These climatic extremes are debilitating for all and life-threatening for some. Moreover, the struggle to cope with such adverse conditions adds to the psychological burden of people coming to terms with the loss of loved ones, community, and property.

Our vision is to transform the lives of displaced people encamped in extreme climatic conditions through an engineered solution to housing that promotes a new science of shelter design. The successful applicant will be joining a large team of engineers and social scientists and will have responsibility for developing this new science and designing new shelters.

In particular, you will:

  1. Create validated thermal models of the shelters in a series of refugee camps using Energy+ or equivalent software.
  2. Produce a series of possible material palettes and designs.
  3. Use these designs as seeds to a multi-criteria optimisation process which will create a Pareto front of possible cost-effective designs, towards which your prototype designs will be migrated.

The ideal applicant will have a PhD in building science, experience of thermal modelling, the ability to program in at least one computer language and an above average record of publication in academic journals.

This post is full time (36.5 hours per week) and is being offered on a fixed term contract basis of up to 30 months in duration.

For an informal discussion please contract Dr Sukumar Natarajan on +44 (0)1225 386358 or via e-mail

The University of Bath is an equal opportunities employer and has an excellent international reputation with staff from over 60 different nations. To achieve our global aspirations, we welcome applicants from all backgrounds.

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