PhD Scholarship in Agent-based Models of Tsunami Evacuation Behaviour to Improve Planning and Preparedness

This is a unique and exciting opportunity for a PhD candidate to explore the use of multimodal models for tsunami evacuation.

When tsunami strikes, it is imperative that people are able to swiftly evacuate the affected area. The commonly communicated advice is to head inland or to higher ground, but there are areas in New Zealand where distances to safe locations may be too long for some to evacuate safely on foot and the capacity of the road network is limited. In these cases, it is imperative to evaluate evacuation conditions for multimodal evacuation, i.e., evacuation involving different means of transportation (e.g. by foot and/or vehicle).

This evaluation requires multimodal evacuation models for tsunami evacuation. Most existing evacuation models typically focus on one mode for evacuation, i.e., either on foot or using a vehicle. The PhD research aims to explore the use of multimodal models for tsunami evacuation, which may involve building on existing models or the development of a new model. Once a multimodal approach has been selected, the approach will be used in a case study. The case study will involve simulations of tsunami evacuation for a tsunami prone area in New Zealand (location to be determined). Finally, the research will involve visualisation of simulation results, which may involve the use of Virtual Reality.

The scholarship is part of the NZ MBIE Smart Ideas grant: "Agent models of tsunami evacuation behaviour to improve planning and preparedness."

NZD 32,000 pro rata (full-time study), for three (3) years.

Applicants must demonstrate they have a sufficiently strong background in independent supervised research (typically strong marks in an Honours degree with a research component) and provide evidence of English language proficiency and writing ability. Please see PhD (Civil Engineering) for more information.

The PhD research will require programming skills (e.g. Python, Matlab, Java, C++). Past experience of evacuation modelling, choice modelling, human behaviour modelling, traffic modelling and/or Virtual Reality visualisation is a merit.

Must be able to commence in early 2022 and begin their studies in NZ at the University of Canterbury. The candidate will be enrolled in both the University of Canterbury (NZ) and RMIT University (via an agreement as part of the Cotutelle Programme), and will be provided supervision from a cross-disciplinary supervisory team: Prof Daniel Nilsson (Evacuation modelling) and Dr. Mehdi Keyvan-Ekbatani (multi-modal traffic modelling) - University of Canterbury, Dr. Erica Kuligowski (Evacuation behaviour, RMIT), and Dr. William Power (Tsunami physics modelling, GNS).

Please email Dr Erica Kuligowski directly with your:

  • Statement of interest
  • Cover letter addressing the desirable criteria
  • CV
  • Academic qualifications. 

Applications are now open.

Applications will close once a candidate is appointed.

Encouraged to apply are candidates with outstanding research skills, excellent written and communication skills, demonstrated capacity to work independently and as a part of a team, experience in research, and a track record of published (or at least submitted) research articles.

For further information, contact Dr Erica Kuligowski via

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Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.