PhD Social and Urban Resilience | Urban heat and inequalities

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Job description

Erasmus MC, TU Delft and Erasmus University Rotterdam have joined forces in the Pandemic and Disaster Preparedness Center (PDPC). PDPC aims to prepare society for future pandemics and disasters. We will reduce vulnerabilities and risks and build resilience through effective disaster prevention, preparedness and recovery measures. Convergence of the technical, medical and social sciences is essential for developing the next generation of approaches to disasters and pandemics. In the foreseeable future, our society can expect many more and unforeseen virus outbreaks and extreme events because of climate change. But how do we protect society from the next pandemic or disaster? Which of the lessons learnt could develop prevention and intervention measures, and how could research contribute to preparedness?

The PDPC Frontrunner project “Towards social and urban resilience for pandemics and disasters (SURE)” focusses on urban heat and Covid-19, associated processes of mis- and dis-information related to climate change and pandemics, and questions related to local public infrastructure to increase agency and to improve resilience of urban residents and populations.

The PhD position Hot Summers and urban and regional inequalities is part of the PDPC Frontrunner project SURE and addresses the differential impacts of urban heatwaves on individuals and their communities.

Climate change is leading to an increase in people exposed to heat stress globally. The effect of this disaster is exacerbated in urban environments, given that urban form and materialisation increase local temperatures – also known as the Urban Heat Island effect. Also, the intensity and duration of heat waves is an important factor. Urban heat leads to problems with respect to health, such as increased morbidity and mortality, decreased indoor and outdoor thermal comfort, and decreased labour productivity.

These impacts of urban heat are not distributed equally over the urban region nor over the population, and there are compounding risks; previous studies have shown a significant statistical association between individual characteristics like having a low socioeconomic status and belonging to an ethnic minority group.

This sub-project investigates the socio-spatial distribution of urban heat impacts on a fine spatial scale (100m), focussing on the following five sub-questions: (1) Which socio-economic groups are most exposed to urban heat? (2) where are these groups located geographically and how does this location relate to urban form/design? (3) What compounding risks are related to urban heat exposure, and which geographies are most affected? (4) what impacts does urban heat have on behaviours and individual outcomes? and (5) what lessons can be learned from a fine-grained assessment of heat exposure to help decision-makers to prioritise urban heat mitigation measures?

To answer these research questions this study will use a unique combination of high-resolution climate (i.e. from meteorological and remote sensing observations) and spatial data (GIS, 3D BAG, etc) with individual level data from CBS for which experts from The University of Twente (ITC) and TU Delft will cooperate.


  • a Master’s degree in Environmental Studies, Urbanism, Human Geography, Spatial Planning or a related spatially aware discipline;
  • clear affinity with and preferably experience in interdisciplinary research;
  • strong quantitative research skills and statistical data analysis and numerical modelling with large datasets;
  • an excellent command of spoken and written English and good communication skills;
  • the ability to work in a team, taking initiative, being result-oriented and organized, excellent study results, and academic writing skills are regarded as assets.

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements.

Conditions of employment

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2443 per month in the first year to € 3122 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation.

Additional information

For more information about this vacancy, please contact Assistant Professor Marjolein van Esch (

For more information about the application procedure, pelase contact Caro Coemans, HR advisor (

The position will remain open until August 31, 2022 (local Dutch time: UTC time + 2 hrs). You must apply via the “Apply now” button. Applications via e-mail will not be processed.

Application procedure

To apply, please submit the following mandatory documents by August 31, 2022 (local Dutch time: UTC time + 2 hrs):

  1. A detailed CV with contact information for 2 references.
  2. Detailed transcripts with all university grades.
  3. A motivation letter (1-2 pages) that should address your vision of the project and how you would fit for the advertised position.
  4. An abstract of your master’s thesis.
  5. Formal proof of English proficiency (TOEFL/IELTS/other language certificates).

Please note:

  • You can only apply online. We will not process applications sent by email and/or post.
  • A pre-Employment screening can be part of the selection procedure.
  • Acquisition in response to this vacancy is not appreciated.

Let’s go!

This application process is arranged via the TU Delft website. Make sure to apply before August 31.