Research Associate at the University of Leicester, closing date 22nd March:

Joining the Centre for Environmental Health and Sustainability (CEHS) at the University of Leicester, you will conduct epidemiological research into cardio-metabolic health effects of traffic noise exposures.

You will conduct independent research and statistical analyses using the UK Biobank cohort to look at health effects of aircraft, road and rail noise and leading on writing papers and reports. You will work with a multidisciplinary team of researchers conducting noise and air pollution research in CEHS and Imperial College London.

CEHS is a multidisciplinary centre working across the University of Leicester. Our vision is to improve human health and the health of the environment through cutting-edge multidisciplinary research, in a changing world. CEHS hosts the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Health Protection Research Unit (HPRU) in environmental exposures and health at the University of Leicester.


PhD position in Volatile Organic Compound Emissions from Desktop 3D printer and Indoor Air Quality, closing date 31 March 2021

People spend 80-90% of their time indoors, yet relatively little is known about exposures to poor air quality indoors at home or in work. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are ubiquitous in indoor and outdoor air but measurement information about their concentrations in homes and workplaces is very limited. Exposure to VOCs is associated with different health endpoints including irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, headache, loss of coordination and nausea and at high concentrations they may cause damage to liver, kidney and central nervous system. Some VOCs are suspected human carcinogens.

In the last decade affordable three-dimensional (3D) desktop printers have been developed to make prototypes of machine components, architectural models, medical prosthetic devices or for design and fabrication of clothing and footwear. These printers are being used widely in educational establishments, small businesses, and by members of the public.  

Previous research found that 3D printers that build objects by melting polymer filaments release large numbers tiny organic soot particles, VOCs, and some hazardous chemicals known to cause asthma. This research was used to develop a good practice guide for schools on reducing emissions from desktop 3D polymer printers

This PhD will undertake research into a new type of light sensitive liquid resin 3D Stereolithography (SLA) printer. This builds components very quickly using focussed intense light beams to polymerise layers of the resin. These printers employ an open liquid resin bath containing solvents and small molecular weight organic chemicals such as plasticisers, bonding agents, and colouring compounds which may release VOC’s.  

The research will determine the concentrations and types of VOCs from these printers released using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) analysis. It will investigate the potential risks to health of employees using these printers and examine methods to minimise the emissions so these printers can be used safely.

This research will provide opportunities to develop research skills in analytical chemistry, indoor air quality monitoring, and new polymer based additive printers. The successful applicant will be supported by scientific advisers from Public Health England (Dr Karen Exley) in studies of air quality (indoor and outdoor) and public health. Also, by the Health and Safety Executive Laboratory in Buxton (Dr Gareth Evans and Samantha Hall) who undertook the previous research into safe use of desktop filament polymer 3D printers.


PhD position Environmental factors in COVID-19 susceptibility and recovery

The aim of this PhD is to conduct epidemiological analyses to make inferences about the role of environmental factors on COVID-19 severity and recovery.

The student will first start to explore and document environmental and health data availability in the EXCEED, PHOSP-COVID, UK Biobank and other UK cohort studies. They will then review literature on environmental factors in relation to COVID-19 and other relevant respiratory diseases. Research questions include: Are there associations between greenspace, environmental noise and air pollution exposures and COVID-19 susceptibility and recovery? Are there associations between green space availability and mental health during the pandemic period? Detailed research questions will be developed according to available data and emerging evidence.