PhD Studentship: Long-term impacts and multiple benefits of green infrastructure in cities

University of Exeter - College of Life and Environmental Science

Join a world-leading, cross-continental research team

The University of Exeter and the University of Queensland are seeking exceptional students to join a world-leading, cross-continental research team tackling major challenges facing the world’s population in global sustainability and wellbeing as part of the QUEX Institute. The joint PhD programme provides a fantastic opportunity for the most talented doctoral students to work closely with world-class research groups and benefit from the combined expertise and facilities offered at the two institutions, with a lead supervisor within each university. This prestigious programme provides full tuition fees, stipend, travel funds and research training support grants to the successful applicants. 

Ten generous, fully-funded studentships are available for the best applicants, 5 offered by the University of Exeter and 5 by the University of Queensland. This select group will spend at least one year at each University and will graduate with a joint degree from the University of Exeter and the University of Queensland.

Find out more about the PhD studentships

Successful applicants will have a strong academic background and track record to undertake research projects based in one of the three themes of:  Physical Activity and Nutrition; Healthy Ageing; and Environmental Sustainability.

Supervisor information

Exeter Academic Lead:  Professor Guangtao Fu

Queensland Academic Lead:  Professor Zhiguo Yuan

Project Description

Cities have become the real battle ground in the fight against global threats such as climate change and extreme events; stormwater management plays a fundamental role in improving water security, public health and environmental sustainability in cities. Green Infrastructure (GI) is at the heart of government policies and industry practices in stormwater management to achieve the long-term resilience and sustainability of water and wastewater services. Indeed this is highlighted in Ofwat’s Resilience in the round strategy.

Significant knowledge gaps exist in understanding the long-term impacts of green infrastructure in cities, as previous research focused on short-term, events based impacts at a small scale. The main gaps include 1) lack of holistic understanding of water quality impacts at a city scale; 2) lack of integrated understanding of the downstream impact on wastewater infrastructure; 3) lack of computer models that are computationally efficient for long-term simulations to capture seasonal and annual variability in uncertain variables such as rainfall and soil conditions.

Aim and Methodologies
This project aims to gain new understanding of the long-term impacts of green infrastructure on urban wastewater infrastructure and services. The outcome of this research will help make informed decisions on urban planning regulations and large investments required for urban wastewater infrastructure to achieve the long-term resilience and environmental sustainability in cities. The main tasks include:

1) Develop a new fast Cellular Automata (CA) based surface water model; 2) Collect and analyse case study data required; 3) Building on the SeweX model developed at Queensland; 4) Integrate the new CA model with the new sewer model; 5) Identify key pollutant sources in urban runoff and green infrastructure; 6) Assess the impact of relevant England and Australian urban planning policies and future uncertainty on wastewater services and sewer infrastructure; 7) Develop optimal adaptation strategies on wastewater services and sewer infrastructure; 8) Write up a PhD thesis.


Full tuition fees, stipend of £15,000 p.a, travel funds of up to £15,000, and RTSG of £15,000 are available over the 3.5 year studentship

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South West England