Electric scooters (e-scooters), a form of electric micro mobility, have recently been adopted into the urban transportation network, with cities throughout the world implementing dockless short hire rental schemes. The purpose of these schemes is to improve sustainable transport provision and enhance existing public transport infrastructure, while reducing emissions by minimising the need for private vehicles. Despite these intentions, studies reporting usage habits have indicated that e-scooters are instead being commonly used as a replacement for active travel such as walking or cycling. As such, a long-term continuation of this trend could have implications for population physical activity levels, which could have an impact on public health and fitness.
The doctoral project will develop pilot work conducted by the supervisory team which has demonstrated the physiological cost, psychological responses, and cognitive impacts of e-scooter use, compared to walking, in a controlled laboratory environment. In a more ecologically valid context, this project seeks to better understand the acute physiological responses to micro-mobility transportation use, and to explore the longitudinal consequences of habitual micro-mobility use on physical activity. We aim to improve understanding of attitudes surrounding micro-mobility and the decision making involved in transportation choice. An exploration of how our findings can be translated to influence the development and application of new policy surrounding micro-mobility implementation is a central element of this project. To achieve these desired outcomes, the project will take a combination of methodological approaches, including use of laboratory-based exercise testing techniques (e.g., online gas analysis), monitoring of longer-term physiological responses and behaviours, and collecting and analysing questionnaire data.
This PhD will be a training programme where you will learn about the relationship between the multiple disciplines involved with this project, and how to bring together the varied approaches involved in order to have an impact on real world policy development. This PhD project will therefore train a junior researcher in skills that can intersect multiple disciplines, as well as the ability to move beyond academic boundaries and conduct impactful translational research. Through the range of quantitative and qualitative methodologies employed within this project, alongside the need for regular engagement with stakeholders and industry, the student will develop a comprehensive research and employability toolkit which, upon graduation, could be applied both within and outside academia.
We are seeking a motivated, independent, and collaborative individual, who also has the personal skills that are conducive to working across disciplines, with the capability to translate basic research into applied practice. The successful candidate will need to recruit and work with human participants, collaborate and communicate with key stakeholders (e.g., the public, policy makers, businesses), alongside disseminating study findings to a range of audiences (e.g., academic, public, policy makers). The ability to effectively communicate in both verbal and written form is therefore a key requirement of this studentship.
Applicants must have demonstratable experience in the collection, management, analysis and interpretation of data sets. Experience in both quantitative and qualitative research methods would be beneficial. Candidates will be expected to reflect upon and critically evaluate the current approach for implementation of e-scooters and propose creative and evidence-based solutions to inform the design and development of appropriate policy recommendations.
Applications must demonstrate a motivation and enthusiasm to engage with the different disciplines concerned with addressing a contemporary challenge in public health and policy. An interest in physical activity and health, micro-mobility, sustainability and/or public policy would be advantageous.
This studentship is open to candidates with experience in at least one field relevant to the topics under investigation. Relevant disciplines include, but are not limited to:
· Sport and Exercise Sciences
· Human physiology
· Environmental science
· Medical sciences
· Behavioural science
· Public health
Candidates must also meet the entry requirements for postgraduate study at the University of Kent. Applicants to a PhD programme should normally hold a good Honours degree (First or 2:1) or a Master’s Degree (at Merit or Distinction) in a relevant field, or the equivalent from an internationally recognised institution. The University of Kent requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree.
What support will the successful candidate receive?
· The successful applicant will be supported by an interdisciplinary supervisory team with a broad range of conceptual and methodological expertise across the fields relevant to the research proposal.
· The supervisory team will provide training on the methodological techniques and approaches to be employed with this project. Beyond the supervisory team, the successful applicant will be encouraged to engage with the range of development opportunities (personal, professional, and career) provided through the Graduate Research College as part of the researcher development programme.
· Postgraduate research students are acknowledged and regarded as a core component of the University and our ability to develop and deliver high-quality research. The PhD student will join a cohort of postgraduate researchers based in the School of Sport & Exercise Sciences (part of the Division of Natural Sciences).
How to apply
New students wishing to be considered for this scholarship must apply for a PhD place at the University of Kent by Friday 30th June 2023, 23:59 GMT. Applications must be made through the programme of Sport and Exercise Sciences & Sports Therapy.
Applicants should follow the University of Kent’s online application process. As part of the process, you should include the following:
· details of your qualifications;
· two academic references;
· a personal statement; the statement must be Arial, Point 11, single spaced of maximum 2 pages of A4, detailing:
(1) your reason for applying for a doctoral studentship (i.e. why do you want to pursue doctoral studies);
(2) your fit with the proposed project (how your educational/professional/personal background has prepared you well to undertake research in this topic); and
(3) include a sentence that states you are applying for a Future Human Signature Research Theme Scholarship titled “E-Scooters in the life of the Future Human”