VC International Scholarship in Human-Building Interaction in a Changing Climate (HBICC): Delivering Resilience in Performance, Wellbeing, Health and Safety (eligibility criteria apply)

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    Cardiff University
    United Kingdom
    Natural sciences


Buildings account for about one third of greenhouse gas emissions globally: exacerbated by poor maintenance, building systems inefficiencies and other human activities. Additionally, poorly maintained buildings become increasingly vulnerable to damage caused by the increasing severity of climate change hence becoming even more inefficient in managing energy, waste and quality of overall building. Poorly maintained buildings also pose safety risks to residents (e.g. fire). Multi-occupancy adds further complexity on decision making about occupant comfort and activities.

This PhD project is supervised by staff from Schools of Computer Science, Architecture, Engineering and Psychology, and would focus on the 3-way interaction between humans, the embedded systems in a building (e.g. IoT), and their digital twins (BIM), where, challenges remain to ensure this interaction is reliable (secure and private), efficient (enabling strong linkage between data), interactive (informative and responsive) and effective. Challenges that are magnified in the context of less developed countries while corresponding opportunities for enhancement are great. Your work would pursue one of the following multi-disciplinary aims:

(1) design secure and trustworthy data flows (qualitative and quantitative) between these three systems,

(2) deliver effective stakeholder interaction (occupants, owners, managers, government, industry, emergency services and general public) enabling understanding of HCI’s application in the built environment and,

(3) design and develop interaction between data flows, digital twins and stakeholders to reduce carbon footprints, enhance health and wellbeing and increase building safety. 

For instance, the project will deliver interactive tools to access and to update records of building maintenance (and the quality of maintenance) and safety risk assessments - an MOT equivalent for buildings - for relevant stakeholders in a secure manner, to inform families on how their individual or overall family lifestyle and activities contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and to help them to make informed decisions on how to reduce emissions while looking after their health, comfort and safety, or to inform emergency services on significant hazards and risks during firefighting in buildings e.g. construction and design, use of the building and so on.

This project is likely to seek to address one or more of following research questions:

• What is the best way to monitor a building lifecycle while capturing users’ activities and experiences?

• What is the best way to monitor occupants’ safety risk factors in a building?

• How to accurately and securely collect, store, access and modify (building and occupants) data?

• Which interactions between humans, embedded systems and the digital twins are more effective in making positive change in human behaviour, decision making and knowledge sharing for stakeholders and buildings in reducing carbon footprints, climate change adaptation and occupants’ wellbeing, health & safety?

Supervisory Team:

Dr Julie Gwilliam (Welsh School of Architecture), gwilliamja@cardiff.ac.uk

Dr Parisa Eslambolchilar (School of Computer Science and Informatics), eslambolchilarp@cardiff.ac.uk

Dr Tom Beach (School of Engineering), beachth@cardiff.ac.uk

Prof Wouter Poortinga (School of Psychology), poortingaw@cardiff.ac.uk


Join our internationally recognised research culture, with exceptional computing resources and expert research leaders. The Doctoral Academy Programme develops research and professional skills, and workshop / conference attendance maximises the wider research context.

What is funded

Scholarship covers:

- overseas tuition fees;

- annual stipend (£15,285 for 2020/21);

- research consumables, training, conference travel.


3 years, subject to satisfactory progress


Applicants must:

- be nationals of (or permanently domiciled in) the world’s Least Developed and Other Low Income Countries based on the DAC list of ODA Recipients 2020. See


- meet the academic criteria;

- be liable to pay overseas tuition fees;

- not have been awarded another scholarship covering both tuition fees and stipend.

If you have either a tuition-fee only or stipend only award, you are eligible but will not receive double-funding.

2:1 or above Honours undergraduate or a master’s degree, in computing or related subject. Applicants for whom English is not their first language must demonstrate proficiency by obtaining IELTS at least 6.5 overall, with minimum 6.0 in each component.

How to Apply

Visit the website to apply for qualification Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science & Informatics, mode of study Full-time, with start date 1 October 2020. In the research proposal section, specify the project title and supervisors. In the funding section, enter " VC International Scholarship".

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