PhD scholarship for investigating the health impacts of social housing retrofits

Improving the thermal performance of dwellings may improve health. Work with a multi-disciplinary team to investigate the health impacts of social housing retrofits.

Energy vulnerability denotes the risk of harm due to limited access to essential energy in the home. Poor thermal performance of dwellings in combination and low income are key determinants of energy vulnerability. Energy retrofits, which may include the improvement of the dwelling’s thermal envelope and an upgrade of heating/cooling appliances may reduce the risk of harm and improve health. 

This project will evaluate the health and wellbeing outcomes of large-scale social housing retrofit programs in Victoria which include the replacement of old wood, electric or gas fired heaters with new energy-efficient systems, draughtproofing and new or upgraded cooling systems. Taking a pragmatic approach to evaluate ‘what works’, the project will investigate the cause-effect mechanisms as well as the contextual influences to explain the nature and direction of intervention outcomes. The project will integrate health, social and building science-based investigations and involve concurrent quantitative and qualitative research components for the purpose of complementarity. Hence, the project will seek to provide a better understanding of the effects of these housing retrofits on engineering-based outcomes (e.g. energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions reduction and indoor air quality), health outcomes (e.g. mental health, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and injury) and the social constructions of essential domestic energy services such as heating and cooling. 

The project is part of the NHMRC Healthy Environments And Lives (HEAL) Network, which will provide national and international leadership in environmental change and health.

The value of the scholarship is equivalent to an RMIT full Scholarship over 3 years.

Applications are now open.

Position will remain open until filled. 

  • Satisfy RMIT University’s Doctor of Philosophy entry requirements.
  • Have first-class Honours or Masters degree in in a relevant discipline with a major thesis component.
  • International applicants must also meet the minimum English language requirements.
  • Candidates with excellent written and communication skills, demonstrated capacity to work independently and as a part of a team, and experience in research are preferred

Please submit the following documents to

  • Cover letter outlining interest and alignment with the proposed research, and addressing the eligibility criteria
  • Copy of academic transcripts
  • CV (including the names of two referees)

This PhD scholarship is part of the Healthy Environment and Lives (HEAL) project which is a special initiative funded by Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) involving a multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral consortium. 

Dr Nicola Willand


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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.