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Domestic combustion as a source of air pollution

   Department of Chemistry

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  Dr T J Dillon, Prof N Carslaw  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

In developed countries, it has been estimated that (pre-Covid) we spend more than 90% of our time indoors, much of this at home. Despite this fact, most of the regulation and research around air quality and consequent health effects has been on the outdoor environment or on occupational exposure in the workplace. Recent research in York and elsewhere has revealed that some domestic activities, such as cooking and cleaning, lead to exposure to high concentrations of harmful air pollutants. Further, these indoor emissions can impact on air quality outdoors. In this project, you will use a combination of lab-based experiments, room scale field activities and computer-based modelling to investigate the impact of domestic combustion on indoor air chemistry. In particular, you will investigate the concentrations of both primary and secondary gas- and particle-phase pollutants that arise from use of candles, scented candles, incense and other recreational combustion activities. Using the full suite of air-analytic instrumentation at the Wolfson Atmospheric Chemistry Laboratories in York, you will identify the conditions that lead to particularly high concentrations of harmful air pollutants indoors. You will conduct room scale deployments to the new DOMESTIC facility, comprising a kitchen/bathroom lab coupled to a highly-instrumented monitoring lab. Impacts will be assessed using the state-of-science INCHEM-Py model for indoor air pollution. You will work alongside an interdisciplinary team of leading environmental and atmospheric scientists in York and with researchers investigating chemistry at the indoor / outdoor air interface via the NERC INGENIOUS project, a wider community involving universities and industrial partners across the UK.

You will develop transferrable skills in design and performing of field experiments, analytical chemistry, chemical mechanism development and evaluation, numerical / data skills and model analysis. The University of York provides comprehensive training programmes for students throughout their PhD studies, with a range of courses on both hard and soft skills (e.g. improving transferable skills, putting research into a wider scientific context and preparing for thesis presentations and viva). You will have a strong scientific background (good degree in Chemistry, Natural / Environmental Sciences) and a keen interest in environmental issues. We appreciate that this project is highly interdisciplinary and encompasses several different science and technology areas. Whilst we expect you to have a keen interest in environmental science issues and an enthusiasm for experiments, the York team is well supported with experienced scientists and technical support; all training will be provided, and no previous experience with specific techniques, instruments or models is necessary.

All Chemistry research students have access to our innovative Doctoral Training in Chemistry (iDTC): cohort-based training to support the development of scientific, transferable and employability skills: 

The Department of Chemistry holds an Athena SWAN Gold Award and is committed to supporting equality and diversity for all staff and students. The Department strives to provide a working environment which allows all staff and students to contribute fully, to flourish, and to excel: 

For more information about the project, click on the supervisor's name above to email the supervisor. For more information about the application process or funding, please click on email institution

This PhD will formally start on 1 October 2023. Induction activities may start a few days earlier.

To apply for this project, submit an online PhD in Chemistry application:

You should hold or expect to achieve the equivalent of at least a UK upper second class degree in Chemistry or a related subject.  Please check the entry requirements for your country:

Eligibility and How to Apply

See our How to Apply page.

The minimum English language entry requirement for postgraduate research study is an IELTS of 6.0 overall with at least 5.5 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking) or equivalent. The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid. Some schools and faculties have a higher requirement.

Equal Opportunities:

Within the NERC Panorama DTP, we are dedicated to diversifying our community. As part of our ongoing work to improve Equality, Diversity and Inclusion within our PhD funding programme, we particularly encourage applications from the following identified underrepresented groups: UK Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, those from a disadvantaged socio-economic background, and disabled people. To support candidates from these groups, we are ringfencing interviews, providing 1-2-1 support from our EDI Officer (contact Dr. Katya Moncrieff) and hosting a bespoke webinar to demystify the application process. Candidates will always be selected based on merit and ability within an inclusive and fair recruitment process.

Funding Notes

This project is available as part of the NERC Panorama DTP, and is a fully funded studentship covering the full cost of University fees plus Maintenance of £17,668 (2022/23 rate) per year for 3.5 years, and a generous research training and support grant (RTSG). Applications are open to both home and international applicants. Please note the number of fully funded awards open for international applicants is limited by UKRI to 30% (7 studentships).

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