The University of Kent is delighted to invite applications for a doctoral scholarship on a project starting in the academic year 2023 (from September 2023). This is an exciting opportunity for an exceptional PhD candidate to lead research in the field of micro-mobility transportation and improve our understanding of the associated physical activity and health consequences. It is anticipated that findings from this interdisciplinary project will underpin key considerations within future health policy in this area, providing the candidate with the prospect of making a meaningful impact on applied practice.
Electric scooters (e-scooters), a form of electric micro mobility, have recently been adopted into the urban transportation network, with cities throughout the world implementing dockless short hire rental schemes. The purpose of these schemes is to improve sustainable transport provision and enhance existing public transport infrastructure, while reducing emissions by minimising the need for private vehicles. Despite these intentions, studies reporting usage habits have indicated that e-scooters are instead being commonly used as a replacement for active travel such as walking or cycling. As such, a long-term continuation of this trend could have implications for population physical activity levels, which could have an impact on public health and fitness.
The doctoral project will develop pilot work conducted by the supervisory team which has demonstrated the physiological cost, psychological responses, and cognitive impacts of e-scooter use, compared to walking, in a controlled laboratory environment. In a more ecologically valid context, this project seeks to better understand the acute physiological responses to micro-mobility transportation use, and to explore the longitudinal consequences of habitual micro-mobility use on physical activity. We aim to improve understanding of attitudes surrounding micro-mobility and the decision making involved in transportation choice. An exploration of how our findings can be translated to influence the development and application of new policy surrounding micro-mobility implementation is a central element of this project. To achieve these desired outcomes, the project will take a combination of methodological approaches, including use of laboratory-based exercise testing techniques (e.g., online gas analysis), monitoring of longer-term physiological responses and behaviours, and collecting and analysing questionnaire data.
This PhD will be a training programme where you will learn about the relationship between the multiple disciplines involved with this project, and how to bring together the varied approaches involved in order to have an impact on real world policy development. This PhD project will therefore train a junior researcher in skills that can intersect multiple disciplines, as well as the ability to move beyond academic boundaries and conduct impactful translational research. Through the range of quantitative and qualitative methodologies employed within this project, alongside the need for regular engagement with stakeholders and industry, the student will develop a comprehensive research and employability toolkit which, upon graduation, could be applied both within and outside academia.
What support will the successful candidate receive?
- The successful applicant will be supported by an interdisciplinary supervisory team with a broad range of conceptual and methodological expertise across the fields relevant to the research proposal.
- Dr Katrina Taylor; a Lecturer in the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences
- Dr Aparajita Mukhopadhyay; a Lecturer in the School of History
- Dr Sam Smith; a Lecturer in the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences.
- The supervisory team will provide training on the methodological techniques and approaches to be employed with this project. Beyond the supervisory team, the successful applicant will be encouraged to engage with the range of development opportunities (personal, professional, and career) provided through the Graduate Research College as part of the researcher development programme.
- Postgraduate research students are acknowledged and regarded as a core component of the University and our ability to develop and deliver high-quality research. The PhD student will join a cohort of postgraduate researchers based in the School of Sport & Exercise Sciences (part of the Division of Natural Sciences) and will also be part of a growing community of PhD students associated with the University of Kent’s Signature Research Themes.