PhD Position Resilient Multimodal Transport Hubs in a Pandemic-Aware Society

PhD Position Resilient Multimodal Transport Hubs in a Pandemic-Aware Society

Published Deadline Location
24 Jul 23 Aug Delft

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Investigate the role of multimodal transport hubs in pandemic prevention, while remaining operational and keeping the passenger experience in mind

Job description

The heavily hit aviation industry now faces many questions regarding the future of air travel and the role multimodal transport hubs (could) play in various stages of the epidemic cycle. How to design airport environments and behaviour changes that are effective and still positively evaluated by passengers and staff? What aspects can be taken from care networks, and how can we include airports, as centralised points of entry into a country, in these care networks for pandemic prevention?

To help international multimodal transport hubs, including airports, to respond appropriately and recover faster and better from health disruptions/crises, such as COVID-19 , the following research questions and topics will be considered:

  • How should multimodal transport hubs respond to infections and contagious diseases, learning from not only COVID-19 but also from other health/safety/security disruptions in the past, such as SARS (2003) and the 9/11 terrorist attacks; but also from other contexts, like healthcare? Identify critical behaviours and relevant contextual factors (e.g. airport layout, protocols, processes) that contribute to causal paths of contagion, in order to prevent further spreading of pathogens.
  • What is the impact of a large-scale epidemic or pandemic on travel behaviour? Explore viability and effectiveness of different measures taken by multimodal transport hubs (like airports) following the COVID-19 outbreak and how they affect passenger experience. Evaluate different solutions and their impact on passenger experience, during a pandemic but also in pre- and post-phases of the epidemic cycle.
  • From a societal perspective, what role should a multimodal transport hub take in care networks (national and international) focused on pandemic prevention, learning from other health/safety/security disruptions? Identify how current networks are organized and how airports can contribute. How does such a role affect the passenger and staff?

To address the above research questions, the PhD candidate will apply co-creative development of interventions with relevant stakeholders and design, plan, implement and evaluate the most appropriate interventions at Royal Schiphol Group.

Design, Organisation & Strategy (DOS)
The department DOS focuses on the interactions between design and organisations with the intention to improve and renew organisations’ strategies and thereby successfully co-create value for individuals, organisations, and society at large. With scholars coming from different domains (e.g., design, engineering, marketing, economics), DOS takes an interdisciplinary perspective on studying design practices in the areas of design, organisation and strategy.

Accelerating Innovation
This PhD project will be part of a five-year collaboration with Royal Schiphol Group (RSG). The overall aim of this collaboration is to contribute to RSG’s ambition to create sustainable, high-quality airports. With the Accelerating Innovation programme we want to focus on three challenges that are of great importance to current and future mobility challenges within society. This PhD research is one of these challenges. The three PhD candidates will collaborate while each working on their own project. This project will be a collaboration between IDE and the Health Group within RSG’s Innovation Hub team.


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)


This PhD research is part of a cross-disciplinary research track at the intersection of industrial design, healthcare, infection prevention, behavioural design and mobility. Therefore, we are looking for a candidate who has a Master degree (MSc) in one or several of these areas.

Additionally, the candidate should have:

  • A strong interest and demonstrable experience in academic research, specifically in applying human-centered design methods, research-through-design approach, field studies/user research, co-creative development, participatory design, and system design;
  • Excellent communication and collaboration skills (also when managing different stakeholders);
  • Excellent command of the English language in speaking and writing;
  • Affinity and (preferably) experience with the transport and mobility sector.

Furthermore, since the candidate is expected to spend some of his/her time at Royal Schiphol Group (to conduct research and to collect information and data), the candidate should like to work in an interdisciplinary context, and be willing to be active within the context of research (i.e. performing research at the airport). 

This PhD position is full-time for four years.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 4 years.

TU Delft offers PhD-candidates a 4-year contract, with an official go/no go progress assessment after one year. Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2395 per month in the first year to € 3061 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.


Delft University of Technology

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context. At TU Delft we embrace diversity and aim to be as inclusive as possible (see our Code of Conduct). Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale.

Challenge. Change. Impact! 


Faculty Industrial Design Engineering

Matching the evolution of people with the speed of the revolution of technology. This is the focus of the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering (IDE). Delft designers act as a bridge between advances in technology and the needs of people, organisations and society to create products, services and systems with purpose.

IDE is a leader in design research across the application areas of mobility, sustainability and health, as well as its development of design tools and methods. A 350-strong research team and over 2,000 students work together in our inspiring hall, labs and studios.

In close cooperation with industry, the public sector and NGOs we rehearse possible futures in research and education to design for a complex future.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering.


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society
  • 32—40 hours per week
  • €2395—€3061 per month
  • University graduate
  • TUD00380


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

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