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Establishing a Climate Resilient Adapted National Network (CRANN) of Bridges

   School of Natural and Built Environment

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  Dr M Lydon  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Climate-related disasters have cost the world more than £450 billion over the last three years. Transport infrastructure is directly impacted by climate change with extreme weather conditions accounting for up to 35% of delays/service interruptions in road and rail infrastructure. One such event was the 2009 floods which resulted in the partial or total collapse of 29 bridges in Cumbria. The probability of repeated events in the future is extremely high given that 40% of UK bridges are considered historic assets (that is, beyond their design life) and the majority of our bridges possess similar attributes, in terms of age, construction type and condition, as those identified in the Cumbria failures. 

Compared to development of low carbon emission technologies the adaption of existing infrastructure to increase its ability to absorb and recover the effects of climate change is relatively unexplored. Current studies focus on the short-term impacts, fail to consider the interdependency of predicted climate events with factors such as bridge condition, age, maintenance and limited redundancy, and consequently cannot accurately identify true vulnerabilities. This PhD will use the 6000 bridges within the Northern Ireland road network as a research platform and build on the supervisor’s current research in relation to predictive maintenance of bridges to:

Prepare transport networks for climate risk by first developing a framework which would facilitate statistical analysis of climatic and environmental controls on bridge condition at network level.

Predict the vulnerabilities based on inspection records and future climate prediction models using statistical data analytics and machine learning models to inform a scenario-based approach to establish the risks in terms of likelihood of occurrence, timeframe of event, consequence and resilience of the infrastructure to absorb it.

Adapt bridges within transport infrastructure using robust decision-making methodology to minimise long-term risk by identifying potential adaption measures to integrate with future maintenance programs.

The PhD will be based in the School of Natural and Built Environment, Queen’s University Belfast. You will be supervised by Dr Myra Lydon (a Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow), Professor Adele Marshall (Professor of Statistics, School of Mathematics and Physics, QUB) Professor Su Taylor( Professor of Structural Engineering, QUB)

University of Cambridge). The student will join the existing research team at QUB and work closely with the supervisors and The Northern Ireland Department for Infrastructure. 

Applicants should use the ‘Research Proposal’ section of their application form to provide a 1000-word (maximum) proposal outlining:

  • Proposed research question(s) aims and objectives
  • The research context and intellectual significance of the project
  • The research methods to be employed
  • The resources that will be used
  • A timeline; any safety or ethical considerations; and an indicative bibliography. 

Research Proposals should be no longer than 1000 words (excluding references).

Applications are welcome from candidates holding a first class or second class honours (upper) degree in civil engineering, structural engineering, climate science, transport geography, statistics, data analysis, computer science, mechanical engineering or other relevant subjects.

The start date for this studentship will be 1 October 2022.


  1. Apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in 'Civil Engineering' at Queen's University Belfast, School of Natural and Built Environment.
  2. State name of lead supervisor on application form (Dr Myra Lydon).
  3. Include your Research Proposal (see above for research proposal guidance)
  4. State the intended SOURCE OF FUNDING on your application as 'EPSRC'
  5. To apply, visit https://dap.qub.ac.uk/portal/user/u_login.php (link to the QUB Direct Application Portal)

Funding Notes

This EPSRC funded 3.5 year studentship is open to UK candidates. The value of an award includes the cost of approved fees as well as maintenance support (stipend). As an indicator, the level for 2021/2022 was £15,609.
Please note that this research project is one of two advertised projects at Queen’s which are in competition for funding. Only one of these will go ahead. The selection will be based on the project which receives the best application.
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