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Planting for silence: the role of hedging in mitigating noise pollution

   Acoustics Research Centre

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  Prof T Cox  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

This is an exciting PhD opportunity to work on an interdisciplinary project drawing on the world-leading expertise at the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) and the Acoustics Research Centre, University of Salford.

Studies show that hedges reduce noise, and that different species and how they are arranged alter the attenuation. But no work has evaluated noise reduction at the cultivar level or studied the impact of hedge pruning and management. New knowledge from this study will inform the selection and management of hedging to reduce the impact of noise pollution.

The World Health Organization classifies environmental noise as an important cause of ill health in Western Europe, behind only air pollution in terms of harms. Long term noise exposure can lead to annoyance, stress, sleep disturbance, affect cognitive performance in schoolchildren, and is a risk factor for dementia. Exposure to noise is also linked to the occurrence of hypertension and an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Vegetation reduces sound transmission through absorption and scattering. In addition, the reflection from the ground is altered via the accumulated leaf litter and/or mulch. Although these reasons for the sound attenuation are known, research questions remain: Which leaf type, arrangement and plant architecture is most effective?; Which hedge pruning/laying techniques promote greatest attenuation? and How can hedging be combined with hard landscaping from sustainable materials to reduce noise. This project aims to address these questions.

Applicants must have a degree and/or master’s qualification in a numerate physical science such as physics or acoustics. A relevant 1st class degree or merit/distinction at master’s level is required. The Ph.D. will involve a mixture of acoustic modelling and measurement, both in the laboratory and in field trials. While a qualification in horticulture is not needed, a keen interest and willingness to learn and apply knowledge under the expert guidance of the RHS is vital. You should also be able to work effectively across the disciplines, be well organised, and be able to project plan and meet deadlines. You will be expected to disseminate your research both to your academic peers and the general public.

The Acoustics Research Centre at University of Salford is one of the largest acoustics groups in Europe. Its facilities include anechoic chambers, reverberation room and impedance tubes that can be used for the project. In REF 2014, Salford University’s research showed particular strengths and outstanding impact in acoustics for the built environment. The lead academic Professor Trevor Cox is co-author of the definitive research book on acoustic treatments. He has been an investigator on 25 UK Research Councils projects and consequently is very experienced in mentoring researchers. He was an EPSRC Senior Media Fellow and has presented 26 science documentaries on BBC Radio and has written two popular science books.

The project supports the RHS’ five-year science strategy which focuses on ensuring that the UK’s 27 million gardeners have the tools they need to address the horticultural and societal challenges they face now and in the future. RHS is UK’s oldest (est. 1804) and largest (500+ employed and 570k+ members) horticultural society, aimed at demonstrating excellence in horticulture and promoting gardening in the UK and beyond.

The studentship is fully funded and includes:

  • A fee waiver
  • A stipend of £16,000.00 p.a. for three and a half years
  • All bench fees and consumable costs
  • Funds specifically allocated for conference travel

Final date for applications: 8th Nov 2021

Interviews will be held on 17th or 18th Nov TBC

The candidate must be in a position to register by Jan 2022


For full details of student requirements and specification please visit:

Enquiries: Informal enquiries may be made to Trevor Cox by email: [Email Address Removed]

Curriculum vitae and supporting statement explaining their interest should be sent to [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

Funding Eligibility:
This studentship is only available to students with settled status in the UK, as classified by EPSRC eligibility. Please visit:
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