PhD Position Equity Impacts of Climate Shocks to Infrastructure

Research / Academic

The department Engineering Systems and Services (ESS) offers a 4-year PhD position on quantifying the equity impacts of climate shocks to infrastructure and transportation systems in the Global South.
It is well documented that poorer households are disproportionately affected by climate-related shocks, either directly via loss of income or indirectly via infrastructure service disruptions, limited access or higher food prices. Climate change can amplify shocks to welfare, especially in climate-vulnerable countries, making it imperative that adaptation efforts are considered pro-poor. Still, there are only few quantitative risk models that capture how climate shocks can cause impacts to household welfare. Existing models often only look at welfare impacts through reductions in income, and are spatially aggregated. Within the context of the Global South, however, welfare impacts to households can also materialise if climate shocks cause disruptions to infrastructure that provide basic human services (e.g., transport/mobility, water, sanitation, energy, education), in particular if disruptions affect the most marginalized. To capture this, a spatially granular model is required that connects households to infrastructure networks and considers the vulnerability and coping capacity of households. Such a new modelling framework will allow designing and prioritizing pro-poor climate adaptation strategies that combine hard (e.g., climate-proofing infrastructure) and soft (e.g., emergency response) interventions.
The aim of this PhD is to better quantify equity impacts of climate shocks to infrastructure systems via a spatial modelling framework. The selected candidate will lead the development of new modelling tools that capture how households rely on the provision of essential goods and infrastructure services for human development on a high spatial resolution. You will analyse how various climate shocks can affect the provision of these services, and consequently the households that depend upon them. This socio-technical modelling approach will help bridge the gap between infrastructure systems modelling and insights derived from the social sciences. The outcome of this PhD is an improved understanding how large-scale climate shocks can cause temporary or chronic impacts to households’ welfare via infrastructure service disruptions. This will inform innovative solutions that can help mitigate these impacts. 
We seek a candidate who is keen to learn and utilise methods, and work with data, from across disciplines, for instance socio-economic data (e.g., household surveys) and models (e.g., microsimulation models), geospatial modelling techniques, infrastructure and transport network models and climate hazard data. This new spatial modelling framework will be developed for one or more case study regions/countries, preferably in the Sahel, Sub-Saharan Africa or Asia (depending on data availability), with a focus on floods and/or droughts. This could be complemented with other types of shocks affecting households, such as pandemics, conflict, or food crisis.
This PhD position is embedded in the newly established TU Delft Climate Safety and Security (CASS) Centre in The Hague. Within CASS, we pursue an ambitious and extensive programme that considers climate change and stability in an integrative way. You will play a crucial role in the flagship Human Security & Liveable Environment that focuses on analysing the implications of disruptions to material flows and infrastructures on human security. The successful candidate will have the opportunity to work with researchers from across the TU Delft, as well as interact with various international organisations (i.e., multilateral development banks, humanitarian organisations).      


The potential PhD candidate is expected to have:

  • A Master’s degree (or nearly finished) in Engineering, Economics, Statistics/Mathematics, Data Science, International Development, or a related field (essential).
  • Experience working with large datasets, models and (geospatial) programming skills (e.g. preferably Python or R) (essential).
  • Excellent study results and excellent command of English (essential).
  • Strong motivation to do scientific research into equity aspects of climate change (essential).
  • A willingness to work in a multidisciplinary research environment, and interest to communicate results to policymakers (essential).
  • A demonstratable interest in, or knowledge of, integrating economic concepts within quantitative (spatial) modelling frameworks (desirable).
  • Work experience in the Global South context (desirable).

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements.

Salary Benefits:

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.
Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2770 per month in the first year to € 3539 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.
The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. 
For international applicants, TU Delft has the Coming to Delft Service. This service provides information for new international employees to help you prepare the relocation and to settle in the Netherlands. The Coming to Delft Service offers a Dual Career Programme for partners and they organise events to expand your (social) network.

Work Hours:

36 - 40 hours per week


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