The Bloomsbury Colleges | PhD Studentships | Studentships 2020 | Air pollution and cognitive development in children: integrating spatial and life course approaches
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Air pollution and cognitive development in children: integrating spatial and life course approaches

Principal supervisor: Dr Ai Milojevic (LSHTM)

Co-Supervisor: Professor Lorraine Dearden (UCL IoE), Professor Paul Wilkinson (LSHTM)

Award includes tuition fees and a stipend of £17,009 including London Weighting (at 2019/20 rates, so slightly higher for 2020 entry)

100% FTE for 3 years, from September 2020.

Project Description

This PhD studentship will explore the possible effects of ambient air pollution and other environmental factors (greenspace, noise) on the cognitive development of children using nationwide cohort data in the UK. The student will work with researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the UCL Institute of Education. The main tasks of the studentship would be to undertake a systematic literature review of the relationship between selected environmental factors and cognitive development; and to plan and conduct spatio-temporal linkage analyses between environmental data sets and routine longitudinal data on children’s educational and health outcomes. Analyses would test putative aetiological relationships and investigate socio-economic patterns of exposure and impact.

The research will aim to address several methodological challenges, including the correlation between environmental exposures, socio-economic factors and school quality, and to provide insight into the degree to which associations between environmental factors and cognitive development may be explained by influences on the frequency of childhood illness and days off school.

This work will capitalize on the UK’s various large-scale cohort datasets with standardized cognition measures, and is expected to contribute new evidence on the social and environmental determinants of cognition and health.

Candidate requirements

We invite applications from outstanding and highly motivated students who have a Masters degree in epidemiology, quantitative social/geographical science, GIScience, data science, modelling or similar with a substantial quantitative component (essential). Demonstrable strong foundation in communication, academic writing, presentation and research planning and management are desirable.

The studentship is only open to applicants who meet the Home/EU fee rate requirements. For further information about Fee Status Assessment please see the School’s policy and procedure document

Key References:

1. Grineski SE, Clark-Reyna SE, Collins TW: School-based exposure to hazardous air pollutants and grade point average: A multi-level study. Environ Res 2016, 147:164-71.

2. Porta D, Narduzzi S, Badaloni C, Bucci S, Cesaroni G, Colelli V, Davoli M, Sunyer J, Zirro E, Schwartz J et al: Air Pollution and Cognitive Development at Age 7 in a Prospective Italian Birth Cohort. Epidemiology 2016, 27(2):228-236.

3. Sunyer J, Esnaola M, Alvarez-Pedrerol M, Forns J, Rivas I, Lopez-Vicente M, Suades-Gonzalez E, Foraster M, Garcia-Esteban R, Basagana X et al: Association between traffic-related air pollution in schools and cognitive development in primary school children: a prospective cohort study. PLoS Med 2015, 12(3):e1001792.

4. Mizen A, Lyons J, Doherty R, Berridge D, Wilkinson P, Milojevic A, Currthers D, Akbari A, Lake I, Davies GA et al: Creating individual level air pollution exposures in an anonymised data safe haven: a platform for evaluating impact on educational attainment. International Journal of Population Data Science, 2018. 3(1): 10.23889/ijpds.v3i1.412.

Further details about the project may be obtained from:

Principal Supervisor: Dr Ai Milojevic (

Co-Supervisor: Professor Lorraine Dearden (

Further information about PhDs at LSHTM is available from:

How to apply:

To apply for this studentship, applicants should submit an application for research degree study in the Faculty of Public Health & Policy, via the LSHTM application portal. Under the ‘Funding Section’ of the application form please clearly state ‘Bloomsbury PhD Studentship’.

Instead of uploading a research proposal please upload a one-page cover document stating that you are applying for this project, and outlining why you are a suitable candidate for the PhD.

The deadline for applications is 23:59 on Sunday 8 March 2020.

Incomplete applications will not be considered for this studentship.

For any queries regarding the application process please contact the Scholarships team:

Closing date for applications is:      
The deadline for applications is 23:59 on Sunday 8 March 2020.