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PhD Studentship: Improvement is in the Air: Using Citizen Scientists to Co-produce, Implement and Evaluate Theory-based Interventions to Improve Air Quality at the School Gate

University of Sheffield - School of Health and Related Research

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Bradford, Sheffield
Funding for: UK Students, International Students
Funding amount: Not Specified
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 22nd February 2021
Closes: 16th April 2021

We have a vacancy for an enthusiastic, self-motivated person to work on a co-produced PhD project supporting community-driven initiatives to improve air quality in and around schools in Bradford and/or Sheffield.

The project is part of a White Rose-funded Studentship Network and the Early Years and Prevention theme of the Yorkshire and Humber Applied Research Collaboration (YH_ARC); a collaborative programme supporting people-powered research to tackle health inequalities ( (theme leads: Professor Kate Pickett, University of York, and Dr Rosie McEachan, Bradford Institute of Health Research).

The White Rose Studentship Network brings together three university partners (Sheffield, Leeds, York) for co-supervision.

About the Project:

The PhD will involve working with schools, Councils and community organisations in Bradford and/or Sheffield to co-produce community-driven initiatives to improve air quality in and around schools (e.g. anti-idling, traffic restrictions, green walls, active travel).

Using community development, behaviour change and improvement science approaches, the project will involve:

  • Quantifying patterns of exposure to pollution with community partners using low-cost air quality sensors
  • Exploring enablers/barriers to improvements in air quality in and around schools
  • Co-producing and co-evaluating with citizen scientists (children, parents, teachers) school-based initiatives to improve air quality
  • Co-producing evidence-based learning opportunities to support other schools to implement/evaluate their own initiatives.

You will be based at the University of Sheffield under supervisor Dr Amy Barnes (School of Health and Related Research); with co-supervision from Dr Kirsty Pringle (University of Leeds) and Dr Rosie McEachan (Bradford Institute of Health Research).

The project will be supported by an experienced advisory panel: air quality assessment (Maria Val Martin, University of Sheffield, Jim McQuaid, University of Leeds), school-based initiatives (Ruth Ellis-Sims, University of Leeds) and behaviour change (Rebecca Lawton, University of Leeds).

You will have access to research group meetings/events at each partner institution, and networking opportunities with world-leading atmospheric scientists, air pollution modellers, and geography and public health researchers. You will benefit from access to the Born in Bradford programme who will support engagement with schools, access to air quality monitoring equipment and provide hot-desking facilities.

Entry Criteria:

  • At least an upper second class honours (2:1) degree or equivalent in a health, social or life sciences-related subject
  • Experience/demonstrated interest in community development, coproduction, behaviour change or improvement science.
  • A masters degree is desirable, as is knowledge of research methods and at least some experience of quantitative analytic methods.
  • You must be prepared to travel to and in Bradford and/or Sheffield.
  • If English is not your first language, you will need to demonstrate an IELTS score of at least 6.5 in each component/overall score of at least 7.

Interviews: End of April/start of May 2021

Start date: 1 October 2021

How to apply:

Apply online at the University of Sheffield by completing a Postgraduate Research Application form:

Please clearly state: title of the studentship, prospective main supervisor and select ScHARR as the department.

You will also need to include:

  • A short research proposal (max 500 words) outlining how you would approach the project (applications will not be considered without this).
  • A covering letter explaining why you wish to apply for this studentship.
  • A CV

Please feel free to contact lead supervisor Dr Amy Barnes before applying.

Funding comment: 3-year studentship: Home fees, stipend at Research Council rates, one-time support grant (approximately £2,500).

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