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Current sandpit opportunities

Reducing carbon in built environment systems sandpit (September and October 2022)

We are delighted to organise this sandpit in partnership with the Net-Zero Infrastructure Industry Coalition (NZIIC).

Considering options and solutions to help understand the systems and interactions in the built environment that help determine the optimal path for carbon reduction.

Whilst recognising that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to achieving Net-Zero carbon, there is a need to understand how interactions between different built environment and infrastructure systems and contexts influence the optimal pathways to carbon reduction. A possible solution for Net-Zero infrastructure development in a city, for example, may not be feasible for a suburban or rural location. This has implications for policymakers, infrastructure industries, and individuals in understanding the optimal course of action for a given context.

This sandpit invites postdoctoral researchers to join interdisciplinary teams to propose projects to explore this challenge, with the aim to develop solutions to better understand the interactions and support decision making. Proposals arising from the sandpit will be expected to have a clear multidisciplinary nature including input from a number of relevant disciplines (e.g., engineering, economics, geography or computer science).

If this opportunity is not relevant to you, do join our mailing list (in the footer) or register on Inkpath to be kept up to date with the next sandpits. You can read more about what a C-DICE sandpit is and its objectives here.

The Net-Zero Infrastructure Industry Coalition

The Net-Zero Infrastructure Industry Coalition is a collection of prominent public and private infrastructure businesses and academic institutions in the UK committed to achieving net-zero. Their goal is to support the ambition of our nation and to achieve a transformation in the way in which the infrastructure that forms the backbone of our economy contributes to Net-Zero by 2050. Achieving this goal will need government, academia and the infrastructure industry to work together to develop and implement strategies that will transform the way in which our infrastructure supports Net-Zero economy by 2050.

The Coalition provides and demonstrates clear leadership as well as leading edge thinking and know-how across the infrastructure industry to achieve our goal. They have published several thought leadership pieces to date in collaboration with government, local authorities and the supply chain and will continue to use their considerable resources to convene and bring together all the stakeholders across the entire infrastructure sector.

The Coalition envisions that by mentoring and participating the sandpit, they can work together with emerging and leading academic minds to create impactful change on our journey to Net-Zero.

Sandpit 4 session dates and mode of delivery

Sessions and mode of deliveryDateTime
Session 1 (online)27 September 202210am – 1pm
Session 2 (online)29 September 202210am – 1pm
Session 3 (in person, at Loughborough University)4 October 202210am – 4.30pm
Optional group work5 October 2022Each group to decide
Session 4 (online)11 October 202210am – 1pm
Session 5 (online)13 October 202210am – 1pm
Funding proposal submission deadline24 November 2022
Presentation to NZIIC representatives8 December 2022
(C-DICE reserves the right to make changes the programme due to circumstance beyond its control i.e. COVID-19).

Participants are expected to attend ALL 5 sessions. Please note that sessions 1, 2, 4 and 5 will be held online via Zoom, while session 3 will take place in person at Loughborough University campus. If the in-person attendance requirement for session 3 prevents you from applying, please contact us.

Medical or urgent appointments may be accommodated if you contact C-DICE as soon as possible. The session on 5 October is optional and can be used by participants to work on the first draft of their project.

Eligibility criteria for a C-DICE sandpit

  1. Applicants must have either a PhD or at least four years’ experience as a postdoctoral researcher in a relevant field. PhD students are eligible to apply but must have passed the viva with minor corrections before sandpit sessions start.
  2. Applicants must be currently enrolled or employed by a C-DICE partner university or funded by the Faraday Institution or Alan Turing Institute. The list of C-DICE partner universities is available here.

If you are a postdoctoral researcher at a UK university that is not a C-DICE partner, or work in industry, but would like to join a C-DICE sandpit, please contact the C-DICE team to arrange for a preliminary meeting to discuss the alignment of interests. You can apply if this is indicated after the meeting.

How to apply

The application form is available via Inkpath, our researcher development platform.

Step 1

If you already have an Inkpath account, please go to ‘Call for applications – Reducing carbon in built environment systems Sandpit’ activity.

If you do not have an Inkpath account, you need to create one. Guidance on how to register and add the C-DICE affiliation is available at https://www.cdice.ac.uk/programme/inkpath/. After you create the account, please go to ‘Call for applications – Reducing carbon in built environment systems Sandpit’ activity on Inkpath.

Please get in touch, if you have any problems accessing the activity or registering with Inkpath.

Step 2

Book onto the activity on Inkpath. After booking is completed, you will receive a link to the Microsoft form application.

Step 3

Fill in the Microsoft application form. You will be asked to:

  • describe your primary research area for a non-expert (100 words)
  • describe your eligibility for a C-DICE sandpit and explain how you meet the assessment criteria (maximum 300 words)
  • identify what aspects of this C-DICE sandpit topic are of interest to you (100 words)
  • identify what skills and expertise you have you think will be relevant to the C-DICE sandpit (100 words)
  • identify how you might incorporate Equality, Diversity and Inclusion aspects in this C-DICE sandpit topic (100 words)

If you need to access the application form in a different format, please get in touch with the C-DICE team.

Applications will close on Wednesday 20 July 2022, 5pm.

The C-DICE sandpits are an opportunity particularly for postdoctoral researchers, typically research staff, at an early career stage. Achieving the sandpit aims will require participants from an appropriate mix of diverse backgrounds and relevant disciplines including, but not limited to:

  • Engineering
  • Physical Sciences
  • Mathematical and Computer Science
  • Business Studies & Social Sciences
  • Humanities

We encourage people from diverse backgrounds to apply for the sandpit. Diversity of backgrounds will be considered when selecting participants to attend.

White keyboard with 'Apply now'  key instead of 'Enter'

How we will assess your application

Applications to attend the sandpit will be anonymised and then assessed by a selection panel consisting of the sandpit director, Dr Dave Filipovic-Carter, and C-DICE academic partners.

As a sandpit is predicated on an ethos of innovative collaborative working, applicants must demonstrate both enthusiasm and appropriate personal attributes for cross-disciplinary collaborative research, and a willingness to engage in professional development. The sandpit approach is about bringing together people who would not normally interact.

The assessment criteria for participant selection are:

  • An interest in developing new, adventurous, and highly original research ideas.
  • An interest in partaking in innovative research at the interface between disciplines.
  • A willingness to engage online (camera on and open microphone) with appropriate technology to access online webinars and tools.
  • The ability to attend session 3 in person.
  • The ability to work in a team.
  • The ability to communicate research to a wide audience.
  • Support from your institution to take part.

The selection panel will look to ensure a mix of discipline and experience. It is therefore important to give evidence of how you meet the criteria listed above in your application.

We are not defining the disciplines that should be represented but asking potential participants to indicate how their expertise can address the challenge.

Applicants need not have worked on the problem before. However, emphasis will be placed on working across disciplines to foster new collaborations and bring new thinking to a problem.

In the event of this opportunity being substantially oversubscribed, C-DICE reserves the right to modify the assessment process.

Please note that we will not be able to give individual feedback to unsuccessful applicants, however we will provide some general points of feedback.

Support available to sandpit participants

Caring Support Fund

If you are accepted to join the sandpit but your caring responsibilities could present a barrier to sandpit participation, you can apply for the Caring Support Fund meet additional costs. The purpose of the C-DICE Caring Support Fund is to help postdoctoral researchers with caring responsibilities to offset the additional costs of caring incurred by taking part in a C-DICE activity. More details can be found here.

Travel fund

C-DICE has established a fund to help postdoctoral researchers attend face-to-face C-DICE events where they may otherwise not have the funds to do so. C-DICE will contribute up to £150 towards the cost of travel and/or an overnight stay. The third sandpit session held on 4 October 2022 is eligible for a C-DICE travel grant. More details can be found here.

Post-sandpit assessment

Stage 1

Following the sandpit, investigators involved in those projects recommended for seedcorn funding will be tasked with writing a full proposal covering their intended activities as identified at the sandpit.

The deadline for submission of full proposals will be around five weeks after the close of the sandpit, to be advised in the sandpit.

Successful proposals will demonstrate:

  • novel, highly multidisciplinary research projects, clearly reflecting the distinctive opportunity for creating such projects that the sandpit provides
  • clear evidence that the team have the capability to deliver their project as a high-quality multidisciplinary activity, provided both through the proposal and their activity during the sandpit
  • clear relevance to and the potential to make a distinctive and novel contribution to addressing the research challenges in this area

Stage 2

As part of the assessment process, the teams submitting full proposals will present their project to C-DICE and NZIIC members on 8 December 2022.

It is anticipated that participants will be provided with funding decisions within nine weeks of the end of the sandpit, although these will be conditional upon the subsequent receipt of a fully, worked up proposal document.

Any collaborative project funded through the C-DICE programme must have a signed collaborative agreement between the partners before the start of any grant.

Please note that attendance at the sandpit does not guarantee C-DICE funding.