About the Project
This exciting PhD opportunity integrates applied ecology and acoustics to quantify and minimise noise impacts on wildlife from Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (drone) operations.
Working at the interface between two Centres of world-leading research excellence at the University of Salford (the Environmental Research & Innovation Centre and the Acoustics Research Centre), your PhD research will contribute directly to the Reducing Environmental Footprint Through Transformative Multi-Scale Aviation Planning (REFMAP) project. Funded by Horizon Europe, REFMAP will quantify the environmental footprints of drones at a “multi-scale” level where single-trajectories (micro) and the flow traffic of multiple vehicles (macro) are optimised to minimise the environmental impact.
The specific focus of this PhD will be development of a drone noise impact assessment framework for avian species. This will include systematic review of noise impact on wildlife, field research on bird populations near experimental drone flight corridors (e.g., in Cornwall, UK) and contribution to the development of noise exposure models for birds. The research will consider different drone types, operational procedures and ambient background noise levels.
This PhD project will inform the development of a noise impact assessment framework with associated exposure models and guidance for subsequent use in regulatory decision making. Throughout the PhD, you will have opportunity to engage with a network of leading researchers from across Europe and to engage with end users of your research, including environmental regulators and policy makers. These opportunities are vital for translating your PhD research into impact beyond academia and will provide you with an international profile and associated networks that you can draw upon to support your future career development.
Applicants must have a degree (2:1 minimum) and/or master’s qualification in biology, ecology, wildlife, or a related discipline. To carry out the proposed research and deliver the expected research outcomes, the candidate will need to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of: Animal Behaviour, Animal Welfare, Animal Response to Noise, Acoustic Monitoring of Wildlife, and Design of Experiments. Previous experience on statistics, fieldwork, and acoustic measurements would be desirable, but not essential. In any case, the candidate will have to be keen to learn new methods or techniques. The candidate will be expected to disseminate their research both to their academic peers and the general public.
The School of Science, Engineering and the Environment brings together a diverse range of scientific expertise to support this project including wildlife biologists, ecologists, animal welfare scientists, acoustic engineers amongst others. Researchers have access to a wide range of scientific equipment (including acoustic equipment) and specialist laboratories (e.g., Geographical Information Systems, Acoustics, Biological, etc).
The primary academic supervisor, Prof. Mike Wood, is a leading international expert in the development and application of pollution impact assessment frameworks for wildlife. The multidisciplinary team of supervisors includes experts in anthropogenic noise impacts on wildlife, acoustics and policy development in relation to environmental issues.
This PhD studentship is fully-funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) under the UK government’s Horizon Europe funding guarantee [grant number 10061935] and includes:
- An international fee waiver
- Bench fees and access to relevant equipment and facilities in the School of Science, Engineering & Environment
- UKRI stipend (although this could be negotiated depending on experience)
- Travel and subsistence: Project meetings, national/international conferences, field work.
Final date for applications: 31st January 2023
Interviews will be held during February 2023 TBC
The candidate must be in a position to register by May 2023