Research Fellow in Clean Air Science

Earth and Environmental Sciences, School of Geography

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Birmingham, United Kingdom


  • Posted on: 18th Nov 2021
  • Salary: £31,406 to £40,927, with potential progression once in post to £43,434
  • REF: 98619
  • Closes: 13th December 2021
  • Contract Type: Fixed-Term/Contract
  • Hours: Full Time

Summary of role

This 30-month post will be responsible for the commissioning, operation of two mobile air quality supersites and support the operation of the (established) Birmingham Air Quality Supersite. The post-holder will contribute to science analyses of data from the supersite triplets as well as the low cost sensor network. Training will be provided to excellent candidates if not all the skills are already available.

We are seeking to appoint an enthusiastic, innovative and self-motivated researcher to commission and operate two mobile Air Quality Supersites, and join our team working on a range of atmospheric science research projects.

Through the NERC-funded UK Air Quality Supersite Triplet (UK-AQST) and Integrated Research Observation System for Clean Air (OSCA) projects and EU Horizon 2020 Research Infrastructures services reinforcing Air Quality Monitoring Capacities in European Urban & Industrial areaS (RI-URBANS) project, the University of Birmingham, in collaboration with partners, will commission and operate two new mobile Air Quality Supersites. Each supersite contains a range of state-of-the-science instruments including conventional gas monitors (NOx, O3, SO2, CO, and NH3), Proton-Transfer-Time of Flight-Mass Spectrometer (volatile organic compounds), Aerosol Chemical Speciation Monitor (inorganic and organic aerosols), aethalometer (black carbon), Scanning Mobility Particle Sizer (particle size distribution), and other PM instruments (e.g., aerosol metals) and meteorological measurements. Together with the existing air quality supersite on the university campus, we will create the first proximate, flexible and coordinated triple site configuration (e.g., rural, urban and roadside), each site with simultaneous observation of a range of inter-related gaseous and aerosol species (not just regulated pollutants). Observational data from the supersite triplet and from a high temporal and spatial resolution low-cost sensor network will be integrated to provide unprecedented information on the air pollution sources and formation processes and to deliver solutions to air quality challenges in the UK and beyond.

Main Duties

  • Commissioning two air quality supersites
  • Operation of the measurement instruments (including calibration, maintenance, trouble-shooting and liaison with external suppliers / external service support as appropriate). While instruments are networked and can be monitored remotely, a significant aspect of on-site work will be involved.
  • Engagement with external partners, including the public and local authorities, to determine the spatial distribution of air pollutants
  • Supporting operation of instruments and science analyses from the (established) Birmingham Air Quality Supersite (BAQS), alongside current technical staff.
  • Establishing and operating the network of fixed low cost sensors, and devising and implementing a plan for citizen science observations of air quality.
  • Processing and quality control of the measurements, and ensuring data are fed through to project partners, website and repository
  • Contributing to science analysis of the measurements, to identify trends in air pollutants, analysis of pollution episodes, responses to new local/national policies, and to quantify known and emerging pollution sources
  • Presenting data / results to external stakeholders and in conferences
  • Publishing in peer-reviewed journals
  • Supporting the development of research proposals
  • Provide guidance, as required, to support staff and any students who may be assisting with the research
  • Undertaking management/administration arising from the research
  • Carrying out health and safety risk assessments including COSHH risk assessments, and research ethical approval submissions.
  • Ensuring the safe handling and disposal of all materials used in experimental work including hazardous chemicals.

The researcher will work within a large team of technical staff, PhD students and research fellows contributing to a range of related projects involving air pollution and atmospheric chemistry, notably including NERC UK-AQST, WM-Air (the West Midlands Clean Air Science) and OSCA projects and EU Horizon 2020 RI-URBANS project, which deliver clean air science in support of regional and national policies to improve air quality and health. For further information please see:

Equal Opportunities: The School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences is an equal opportunities employer and holds an Athena Swan Bronze award. Female and BME staff are under-represented in the School and so we particularly value applications from such candidates. The School is happy to consider applications from candidates looking for flexible part time / job share arrangements as part of the appointment.

Person Specification

  • First degree in area of specialism and a higher degree relevant to research area or equivalent qualifications
  • Experience in atmospheric field observations, including the operation of aerosol and/or gas monitoring instruments
  • Experience in advanced data analysis in atmospheric sciences, for example, coding in R or Python
  • Skill in drafting papers for peer-reviewed journals and reports for stakeholders
  • Ability to plan and organise the research programme and/or specific research projects
  • Ability to carry out independent research with minimum supervision but also to operate in a team
  • Ability to co-ordinate own work with others to avoid conflict or duplication of effort and to operate as a member of a team of researchers
  • An enthusiastic and committed approach to environmental science measurements
  • Able to manage time and prioritise tasks independently
  • Positive service attitude and showing courtesy in dealing with others
  • Understanding of and ability to contribute to broader management/administration processes
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills
  • Ability to access and organise resources successfully
  • Good health and safety knowledge in safe handling of field equipment and hazardous chemicals and materials


Informal enquiries are welcome and should be directed to Prof Zongbo Shi (, Prof William Bloss ( and Prof Roy Harrison (

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We value diversity and inclusion at the University of Birmingham and welcome applications from all sections of the community and are open to discussions around all forms of flexible working

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