Research Scholar (Postdoctoral Level): IIASA Water Program

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Vienna, Austria
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
University/Academia/Research/Think tank
Experience Level: 
Not Specified
Degree Required: 


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As part of the Belmont Forum-funded Food-Water-Energy for Urban Sustainable Environments (FUSE) project and the Austrian Development Agency-funded project ''Scaling resilient water and agricultural systems'' in East Africa (scaleWAys), the IIASA Water Program is offering a position for a research scholar (postdoctoral level) in Water Resource and Agricultural Economics. The successful candidate will work on further developing and implementing the in-house hydro-economic modeling framework (ECHO) and applying it in the framework of the FUSE project, as well as conducting research on up-scaling of agricultural water management practices within the framework of the scaleWAys project. This will include the development of interfaces for integrating ECHO and the in-house models such as the hydrological model, Community Water Model (CWatM), and crop model AquaCrop, and the development and application of modules for agricultural and energy sectors within ECHO. The development of these linkages will help to consistently evaluate the effects of implementing innovative food-water-energy solutions, including new agricultural practices, infrastructure, policies, or small-scale interventions, needed to address water scarcity.

The overarching objective of the FUSE project is to help create implementable solutions to meet the urban Food-Water-Energy (FWE) challenge with a development path that is sustainable and adapted to local needs. The project adopts a systems approach to human-biophysical-engineered interactions by constructing multi-agent urban-FWE system models for different regions around the world to capture connections and feedback among users, producers, distribution mechanisms, and resources. Under narratives of future changes in climate, demographics, land use, and economic development, together with a wide range of actors in those regions, the project aims to develop and evaluate policy interventions and innovative governance forms to identify implementable sustainability options in the FWE space. This will include engagement with local stakeholders to construct user-inspired and user-oriented future narratives and proposed solution options. Simulated policy-evaluation results will be used as the basis for discussion of the benefits of those solutions with stakeholders. Lastly, a means to overcome impediments to sustainability and resource equity will be identified with the help of stakeholders. The FUSE modeling framework aims to be flexible, transferable, and broadly applicable to the urban-FWE challenge worldwide.

In addition, the Water Program is conducting research on ways to upscale innovative agricultural water management practices in East Africa within the framework of the newly-funded project scaleWAYS. In-house models will be used to analyze the feasibility of implementing these practices over large areas and evaluate their long-term socio-economic effects (e.g. agricultural productivity, farmers’ income) and environmental impacts (e.g. water use, water quality) under different projections of climate change impacts and socio-economic developments.


  • Assist with the development of the hydro-economic modeling framework (ECHO) at different spatial and temporal resolutions, in order to enhance its usability for different research and policy questions 
  • Assist with the development of interfaces for integrating ECHO, CWatM and AquaCrop
  • Assist with the development of modules for agricultural and energy sectors and their linkages to the core ECHO modeling framework
  • Compile databases of and assess the cost and effectiveness of innovative FWE solutions, including innovative agricultural water management practices 
  • Implement scenarios in the ECHO modeling framework and conduct policy analysis within the framework of the FUSE project 
  • Investigate methods to upscale agricultural water management practices in East Africa in collaboration with project partners and stakeholders from the study area in the framework of scaleWAys project
  • Publish relevant results of own research in peer-reviewed journals and participate in scientific conferences and workshops.

Skills and Qualifications:

  • PhD degree (preferably obtained within the last five years) in natural resources and environmental economics, water resources economics and management, agricultural economics or related fields 
  • Strong interest and background in integrative systems analysis and the development of tools to support water and agricultural management decisions
  • Strong interest and background in connecting research work to stakeholders’ engagement processes
  • Experience with applied economic models in GAMS, either at sector level or in the general equilibrium framework
  • Proven analytical skills and ease in manipulating large datasets and complex modeling systems
  • Programming knowledge and proficiency in e.g. Python, R
  • Experience with Geographic Information Systems (e.g. ArcGIS or QGIS)
  • Proven experience publishing scientific work in high-impact refereed international scientific journals
  • Willingness and interest to work in different socio-economic contexts, including travel to developing countries
  • Demonstrated ability to work well both independently and as part of a multicultural team
  • Excellent English skills (written and oral) are essential.

Appointment Terms:

Duties will be carried out at the IIASA premises in Laxenburg, Austria. The successful candidate should be available to take up the assignment as soon as possible and will initially be offered a one-year employment contract with the possibility for extension, following a satisfactory evaluation of the first year’s work. The FUSE project will run for a total of three years until 2021, having begun in 2018.

IIASA offers a competitive compensation and benefits package (moving and settlement allowances, educational grants for children of school age, and five weeks’ annual vacation). IIASA salaries are exempt from taxation in the host country of Austria but subject to the principle of income aggregation.

IIASA is committed to a working environment that promotes equality, diversity, tolerance and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages qualified candidates from all religious, ethnic and social backgrounds to apply. In the case that candidates are equally qualified, preference will be given to applicants who are nationals of IIASA member countries.


To apply, please email a cover letter (please include the names and contact details of three work-related reference givers), a detailed Curriculum Vitae, and two recent examples of research work to: 

Ms. Alia Harrison, Recruitment Coordinator, Human Resources Department,
International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA),
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria

Deadline for receipt of applications: Friday 22 February 2019.

For information about this position, please contact:

  • Kahil, Taher. Research ScholarWater. +43(0) 2236 807 325.


  • Wada, Yoshihide. Deputy Program DirectorWater. +43(0) 2236 807 241.

About Laxenburg (near Vienna)

IIASA is located in a former 18th century imperial palace of the Habsburg Monarchy in Laxenburg, Austria about 15 km from Vienna. The facility has been gratefully provided by the host country Austria to the International Scientific Community. According to Mercer’s 19th annual Quality of Living survey, Vienna ranks highest for quality of living for the 9th year in a row in 2018. The survey covers 450 cities worldwide and is based on 39 criteria such as political, social, economic, educational, and environmental factors. Vienna has all the facilities of a modern, progressive city, in the heart of Europe.

While famous for its concert venues, opera houses, theaters, and museums, Vienna also provides opportunities for great outdoor activities on nearby Lake Neusiedl, the Vienna Woods, and the Alps.

Vienna has a wealth of different research and international governmental institutions, permitting extensive dialogue at local and international level between scientists and policymakers.

For general information about our Institute and its research activities, please visit our IIASA Web site.

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