PhD Studentship: Incentives, Politics, Policies and Wildfire

PhD Studentship: Incentives, Politics, Policies and Wildfire

Project Description

Wildfire and human activity interact in complex ways. Identifying the mechanisms through which human behaviour influences wildfire outcomes is crucial for developing effective mitigation and adaptation policies, especially given the uncertainty introduced by the changing climate.

This project will add to the understanding of the human drivers of wildfire. The candidate will develop economic and econometric models to investigate how incentives created through the interactions between agents, land use, and policy determine wildfire outcomes. The work will explore the unintended consequences of policies seemingly unrelated to wildfire, and evaluate the impact of policy makers’ incentives on wildfire occurrence and burned area.  Findings will contribute towards understanding the limitations of current environmental management practices, and the development of efficient fire policy.

Studentship Overview

The studentship will be supervised by Dr Yiannis Kountouris at Imperial College London. Dr Kountouris’s research focuses on Environmental Economics with a focus on wildfire. The student will be based within the Centre for Environmental Policy (CEP) based at Imperial’s South Kensington campus. CEP focuses on the interface between science and policy in key environmental subjects through the interdisciplinary study of science, technology and innovation.

The student will also join a vibrant interdisciplinary research community in the Leverhulme Centre for Wildfires, Environment and Society, which includes staff and PhD students from Imperial College London, King’s College London, the University of Reading and Royal Holloway, University of London, with a common vision of producing evidence-based understanding of the human-fire nexus that can help inform policy and practice.

How to apply

The applicant will have a good undergraduate degree (min 2.1) in Economics, Geography, Mathematics, Political Science, Environmental Sciences or related fields. They will either have, or be working towards, a Masters degree or equivalent in a relevant field. The successful candidate will have good quantitative skills and be familiar with statistical software and GIS. They will have experience of writing to a high standard, and a willingness to work in interdisciplinary teams.

Applicants should submit:
i) A CV (max 2 A4 sides), including details of two academic references;
ii) A cover letter outlining their qualifications and interest in the studentship (max 2 A4 sides)
These should be sent by email to by 10th July 2020 with “Leverhulme PhD” as the subject. Interviews will take place, virtually, late mid/late July 2020.

For further information on the project, please contact

Funding Notes

The studentship is half funded by the Leverhulme Centre for Wildfires, Environment and Society  and half by the Centre for Environmental Policy. The student will be funded at £17,285 stipend per annum (including London allowance) paid for four years. The studentship will cover UK/EU fees for three years, and writing-up fees for the final year. There will be support funding for fieldwork and conference attendance. The studentship will start in October 2020.