PhD Call for Applications at VinUni and University of Illinois on Smart Indoor Air Quality Control System for Healthier and Greener Buildings


PhD Call for Applications at VinUni and University of Illinois

Smart Indoor Air Quality Control System for Healthier and Greener Buildings

Open date: 01/06/2023Closing date: 31/12/2023


The quality of the indoor environment has a critical impact on people’s health because on average, we spend more than 90% of our time indoors. Providing a healthy and safe indoor environment can save lives, reduce diseases, and increase our quality of life. Elevated levels of indoor air pollutants such as black carbon and particulate matter in different buildings in urban areas of Vietnam are similar to or sometimes even higher than the level of those pollutants outdoors exceeding the WHO guidelines and thus posing an elevated risk for the occupants. Better management of indoor environmental quality and saving energy consumption at the same time is of critical national and international significance. We propose a project funded by VinUni-Illinois Smart Health Center to deliver the necessary tool to achieve the target of making healthier buildings worldwide to protect human health.

We are recruiting PhD students and postdoctoral researchers for the following five tasks. Task 1. Quantify environmental persistence and infectivity of respiratory viruses. The persistence and infectivity of coronavirus and influenza viruses will be measured under various indoor environments (e.g., temperature (T), relative humidity (RH), and lighting conditions). Task 2. Field research to quantify the concentration of air pollutants in indoor environments with and without intervention. We will deploy air samplers at different locations in hospital facilities (e.g., Vinmec Times City in Hanoi) and other buildings (e.g., VinUni and TechnoPark building in Hanoi) to collect bioaerosols and reactive volatile and particulate matter (PM) components. Task 3. Generate full-scale full-geometry predictive tools to understand airflow and aerosol transport in indoor environments. We will create a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model that integrates the Navier-Stokes equations, heat transfer, and a scalar convection-diffusion equation to describe the airflow, temperature, and their efforts on aerosol transport. Task 4. Privacy-preserving analysis of air quality data and user profiling by federated learning. The indoor air quality data will be collected from various sensors and internet-of-things (IoT) devices. We will leverage Machine learning/Deep learning by Watson Studio to manage the HVAC system based on its operating parameters and the decision of building managers. Task 5. Design an AI management platform for controlling air quality. Our final task is to develop an AI-integrated privacy-preserving analytics platform that supports indoor air quality monitoring, detecting, and preventing anomalies. Specifically, the platform will offer interactive interfaces for infection control and facility managers to make informed and optimal intervention strategies as per different intended uses of the multi-used indoor environments. The project’s outcome will be an accurate assessment of the health risks from indoor contaminants and real-time recommendations for intervention strategies to reduce these risks.

Training program

As a Ph.D. student, you will undertake training courses that will lead towards a Ph.D. and allow you to gain various skills and expertise to strongly support your future career, whether in industry or academia. Students will be supported in publishing their research and encouraged to present it at international conferences. The students will be advised by professors at Illinois and VinUni from the following team: Illinois: Vishal Verma, Helen Nguyen, Jinhui Yan. VinUni: Le Duy Dung, Kok-Seng Wong, and Andrew Taylor-Robinson.


This project is suitable for students (Vietnamese only) with a Bachelor’s degree in physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, public health or a related field. Academic excellence should be demonstrated, i.e. GPA of 3.2 or above. A Master’s degree and/or experience in one of the following fields: physics, chemistry, biology, numerical methods and simulations, or AI/ML methods are desirable but not essential. Applicants should have a strong interest in air quality, field sampling, public health, and computational and/or machine learning knowledge. Excellent skills in one of the following: programming (Python), molecular biology, numerical methods, simulations, and design thinking is desirable. The key requirements are an interest in the topic and a good work ethic. English language requirements: IELTS Academic: 6.5 or above (or equivalent).


Selected candidates will work towards their PhD degree granted by either VinUniversity (VinUni) or University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), and be co-advised by faculty from both universities. During their PhD studies, VISHC PhD students will spend 2 years to study and research at the other university and can optionally seek a master’s degree from that university. This program will cover all tuition fees, living expenses, health insurance, round-trip airfare, and related expenses for VISHC PhD students. The financial support for VISHC PhD students while they are at UIUC is provided by the Vingroup Scholarship Program for Overseas Study for Master’s and Doctoral Degrees. VISHC PhD students will receive a stipend of 10,000 USD/year when they study at VinUni and 25,000 USD/year when they study at UIUC.

How to apply

To arrange an informal discussion, please email VinUni-Illinois Smart Health Center ( and copy Dr. Le Duy Dung ( and Prof. Vishal Verma ( You must include your CV, a research summary, and the names of two recommenders who can write letters on their behalf.