Large scale funding totalling £21M has been secured to establish a Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) within the Institute for Risk and Uncertainty of the University of Liverpool.
DataScouting was a partner of IRU from the beginning of this endeavour and will host a number of PhD students to its infrastructures, to work on problems related to our media monitoring suites.
This CDT is jointly funded by EPSRC and ESRC with a grant of around £4M. The University of Liverpool will invest more than £6M and 36 industrial and academic partners will contribute more than £10M in the form of access to facilities, models and data. The CDT partners will provide workplaces and supervision for PhD students during industrial placements as well as training at summer schools and workshops.
The CDT will address industrial and societal needs, at the local and global scales, which arise from the rapidly growing complexity of systems of various kinds, their environment and associated risks and uncertainties.
Risk is the potential of experiencing a loss when a system does not operate as expected due to the occurrence of uncertain, difficult-to-predict, events. Problems of risk and uncertainty are ubiquitous. They occur for example in (1) the modelling and design of engineering systems and structures; (2) the impact of human activity on the natural environment, ecosystems, civil infrastructure and society; (3) financial transactions, markets and trading of currencies, stocks and shares etc. Risk assessment requires the quantification of not only the direct cost of system failure but also the accompanying multi-faceted failure consequences that cascade across the boundaries of very different disciplines and sectors of society. This is illustrated by disasters such as the Deepwater Horizon oil-spill, Hurricane Katrina, the Fukushima nuclear incident and the global financial crisis, where in each case failure in technical and management systems caused an avalanche of inter-related effects in environmental, financial, and social systems.
In the CDT, training will be provided for 76 PhDs over 8 years within a mathematical/scientific framework providing the essential tools needed to address multi-/inter-disciplinary problems of risk and uncertainty. The CDT is supported by 25 industrial partners, non-profit making foundations or national laboratories and 11 overseas university partners. Each PhD project will have at least two supervisors from different disciplines and will involve two six-month placements with partner organisations.
The CDT provides a unique opportunity in the UK (and possibly in the world) for training PhDs who are able to communicate across the boundaries of the old disciplines of engineering, mathematics, economics, the environmental sciences and psychology. Those trained in this way will be able not only to enumerate the risks associated with a particular activity or process, but also to express clearly the meaning of the risk to the general public and decision makers. They will be able to cross the divide between mathematical intricacy and explanation in common language.