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Public health prevention within urban spaces: a citizen science enquiry.

School of Health and Social Care

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Dr E Carnegie , Dr L Luca Mora , Dr R Kyle No more applications being accepted

About the Project

Advantages of living in cities, with relatively high population density, include: opportunities for social interaction, education, employment, access to health diagnostics and treatment, active travel and integrated modes of transport. However, negative aspects of population density can include: traffic congestion, noise, light and air pollution, industrial emissions, greater access to outlets that supply alcohol, tobacco and convenience foods, neighbourhood segregation and low public trust. Findings from a multi-city time series revealed harms caused by air pollution where independent associations were observed between short-term exposure to PM10 and PM2.5 and daily all-cause, cardiovascular, and respiratory mortality in more than 600 cities across the globe.

Urban policy ought to consider the implications of high density living as a basis to develop sustainable and healthy places which enhance wellbeing. A key policy objective arising from The Marmot Review on health inequalities is to “create and develop healthy and sustainable places and communities”. Spatial planning is directly related to health outcomes. For sustainable solutions to be created it is necessary to define and design these issues in partnership with communities where human and environmental risk to health occurs.

If you are interested in investigating the burden of non-communicable diseases within urban areas in order to determine how to increase conditions that promote health, you may be interested in this interdisciplinary opportunity. You will develop an area of research that combines citizen engagement, environmental science and public health and work closely with experts from the disciplines of Public Health, Geography and the Built Environment. You will investigate health and wellbeing outcomes for local residents living in densely populated urban communities in your chosen country/countries.

In partnership with local residents, you will identify environmental stressors such as air pollution, noise, traffic density using objective measures as well as drawing on the experience of residents.
Knowledge exchange with planners and policymakers will be necessary in order to contribute towards the design of sustainable green and health-protective infrastructures. By drawing on a range of data collection methods, this mixed methods study will work in partnership with densely populated urban communities to identify any associated risks (proximity) to health arising from within the external and built environment producing evidence for city planners, designers and engineers.

Situated within the School of the Built Environment and School of Health and Social Care, your supervisors will offer their expertise in environmental health, critical health policy, community participatory research, public engagement, human geography, urban sustainability, smart city development, quantitative and qualitative methodologies.
If you are interested in this opportunity, please contact us to discuss your ideas and how you might develop this research proposal for your chosen country/countries.

Part-time and full-time students are invited to apply.

Academic Qualifications
A first degree (at least a 2.1) ideally in the health sciences or social science or geography or the built
environment and a Masters degree in a related subject with a good fundamental knowledge of
qualitative and quantitative methods.
English language requirement
IELTS score must be at least 6.5 (with not less than 6.0 in each of the four components). Other,
equivalent qualifications will be accepted. Full details of the University’s policy are available online.
Essential attributes:
• Experience of fundamental health-related interdisciplinary research
• Competent in qualitative data collection techniques, quantitative data analyis
• Knowledge of diverse community participation, public health policy, public health data sets
• Good written and oral communication skills
• Strong motivation, with evidence of independent research skills relevant to the project
• Good time management
Desirable attributes:
Passionate about the subject matter, experienced in mixed methods, excellent presentation skills, the
ability to communicate with the public, project management skills, networking skills.

Funding Notes

This is an unfunded position


Beenackers, M. A. et al. (2018). Urban population density and mortality in a
compact Dutch city: 23-year follow-up of the Dutch GLOBE study. Health &
Place 53, 79-85.
Institute of Health Equity (2011) The Marmot Review: Implications for
Spatial Planning. London: University College London.
Liu C. et al. (2019) Ambient Particulate Air Pollution and Daily Mortality in
652 Cities. New England Journal of Medicine. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1817364
Mahajan, Kumar, Pinto, Riccetti, Schaaf, Camprodon, . . . Forino. (2020). A citizen
science approach for enhancing public understanding of air pollution. Sustainable
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