Researcher in Ecological Modeling

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

Laxenburg, Austria 🇦🇹

IIASA BIODIVERSITY AND NATURAL RESOURCES (BNR) PROGRAM

The Biodiversity, Ecology, and Conservation (BEC) Research Group, within the BNR Program is looking to recruit a highly motivated and enthusiastic researcher who is interested in applying statistical and data analysis skills in conservation contexts.

BACKGROUND

The BEC research group develops and applies state-of-the art ecological knowledge, methods, and tools to understand ecosystem functioning, ecological responses, and feedbacks in coupled social-economic-ecological systems. The group aims to apply this knowledge and tools to investigate appropriate management options to achieve sustainability goals that have ecological implications and conservation relevance.

One key activity of the BEC group is investigating the impact of agriculture, forestry and other land-uses on biodiversity through advanced statistical modeling techniques. This entails analysing and linking large quantities of spatial data on biodiversity observations, land cover and land uses.

On this topic the BEC group is involved in the following projects, which the incumbent is expected to be involved with:

Forest Navigator is a Horizon Europe project which will develop a new integrated policy modeling framework for the EU forests and forest bioeconomy covering i) all relevant mitigation strategies from forest management to energy and material substitution, ii) climate change impacts, adaptation, and natural disturbances, iii) biophysical climate feedbacks, iv) systematically accounting for impacts on biodiversity, forest ecosystem services, and other forest functions, incl. jobs and green growth. Forest Navigator will make use of real-time data from remote sensing reconciled with National Forest Inventories (NFI) and other field data of unprecedented quality to develop models of species responses to climate and land-use data that, for the first time, will be able to predict the impact of different forest management scenarios for the EU and its member states across multiple scales, multiple interacting drivers and for a large number of taxa.

BrightSpace is a Horizon Europe project which intends to provide provides an analytical toolbox to experiment, analyse, and coordinate the effects of innovative technologies, governance structures, as well as short- and long-term land-use policies for Europe to operate within a Safe and Just Operating Space (SJOS). The Safe component reflects the bio-physical boundaries of ecosystems and the Just component the requirements for the well-being of the involved people. The BEC group will be collaborating with other world-leading research groups to identify biosphere integrity boundaries for European ecosystems through using theory, data and models related to extinction rates and community intactness.

THE ROLE

The incumbent will work within the BNR Program and the BEC Research Goup, and in close collaboration with Dr. Martin Jung and Dr. Piero Visconti on developing and applying integrated Species Distribution Models using Bayesian (e.g., Integrated Nested Laplace Approximation and the probabilistic statistical language Stan) and other machine learning approaches (e.g. Gradient Descent Boosting, Bayesian Additive Regression Trees, Neural Networks). The successful candidate should be comfortable working in a multidisciplinary environment, and be excited about interacting with researchers from other domains such as economics, forestry and agronomy to explore how linkages between biodiversity and these sectors can be developed.

TASKS AND RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Developing workflows and programming code for modeling of species distributions under global change scenarios, in particular changes in agricultural and forest management
  • Large geo-spatial data preparation for spatial planning and assessment of protected area effectiveness
  • Ecological modeling for land use and climate impact assessments
  • Leading the dissemination of project results via high-quality journal publications and conference presentations
  • Contribute to the organization of project-related workshops and/or webinars
  • Support all project partners and group members in the drafting of reports, grant proposals and other scientific outputs as need arises
  • In line with the team spirit that prevails at IIASA, the incumbent may occasionally work on other tasks assigned by their superiors, that might not be directly related to this appointment but where the post holder has relevant experience and skills, and/or a shortage of immediate personnel capabilities requires such.

QUALIFICATIONS AND EXPERIENCE

  • PhD or equivalent experience in statistics, computer science, engineering, environmental science, or ecology with experience in using statistical or machine learning methods with large datasets
  • Fluent in at least one scientific coding language (R, Python, C++). Previous experience in developing scientific software for ecological research (e.g., Python libraries, R-packages) highly desirable
  • Experience in parallel computing, collaborative coding and version control (e.g., Git) advantageous
  • Advanced geo-spatial analyses in R. Knowledge of Google Earth engine advantageous
  • Good understanding of current applied ecology and conservation research are desirable but not essential
  • Excellent organizational skills, pro-active and results-oriented, and the capacity to deliver on allocated tasks and respond in a timely manner to deadlines
  • Ability to work independently as well as with an international and multidisciplinary team distributed across different institutions and time-zones
  • A track record of publishing high-quality scientific research (commensurate to career stage)
  • Excellent communication skills (both written and oral) in English
  • IIASA offers an interdisciplinary and international workplace, and the possibility to interact with researchers of different nationalities, with strong ties to a world-wide network of research institutions engaged in environmental systems research. The successful candidate must be able to work in, and have respect for, an intercultural environment, and IIASA core values.

APPOINTMENT TERMS

The selected candidate should be available to take up the position as soon as possible. We offer an initial fixed-term, two-year, full-time (40 hours per week) employment contract, with the possibility of extension thereafter. Eligible applicants wishing to work part-time hours will also be considered.

Duties will be carried out at the IIASA premises in Laxenburg, near Vienna in Austria (up to 100 days per year home office working within Austria possible).

The successful candidate will be hired as a researcher (R1) or research scholar (R2) according to their corresponding profile in the IIASA researcher profiles for research careers. 

WE OFFER

minimum gross annual, full-time salary of:

EUR 33,924.00 for R1 researchers

EUR 44,204.00 for R2 research scholars 

IIASA salaries are:

  • Exempt from income tax in Austria
  • Negotiable, based on the qualifications, skills and experience of the selected individual.
  • Subject to deductions for health insurance and/or social security.
  • Not directly comparable with other employers in Austria, due to the unique legal status and privileges granted to IIASA.
  • Subject to the principle of income aggregation (Progressionsvorbehalt in German).

IN ADDITION:

  • Educational subsidies for children of school age enrolled in private schools in Austria.
  • A generous annual leave allowance.
  • Moving and settlement allowances and paid home leave for employees in scientific and professional categories hired from international locations.
  • Assistance for newcomers to Austria with visa, work and residency permit applications.
  • Support finding accommodation in Austria.

Further details here.  

About IIASA

IIASA is committed to a working environment that promotes equality, diversity, tolerance and inclusion within its workforce. This is reflected in our  IIASA core values. We encourage 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 from countries where IIASA has a  National Member Organization (NMO).

Further Information

For further information about this opportunity please contact:

Dr. Piero Visconti, BEC research group leader or

Dr. Martin Jung, BEC research scholar

For general questions about working at IIASA, please contact:
[email protected]

Applications

To apply for this opportunity, you will need to provide the following documents in English: 

  • A cover letter outlining your motivation for and fit to the position
  • A detailed Curriculum Vitae
  • The names, addresses (including e-mail), and telephone numbers of two work-related reference givers.

Deadline for receipt of applications: until filled

Working at IIASA

WE OFFER

A competitive salary which is exempt from taxation in the host country of Austria (subject to the principle of income aggregation)Educational subsidies for children of school age enrolled in private schools in AustriaA generous annual leave allowanceTax free shopping privilegesMoving and settlement allowances and paid home leave for employees in scientific and professional categories hired from international locations (rules apply)Assistance for newcomers to Austria with visa, work and residency permit applicationsSupport finding accommodation in AustriaNon-contributory group accident insurance coverage
ADDITIONAL BENEFITS

The institute also provides lots of amenities to help ensure a pleasant and healthy working environment including:The market town of Laxenburg is an exceptionally beautiful location easily reached by regular bus service from Vienna (travel time 30 minutes from Vienna’s main train station “Hauptbahnhof”) Free parking on IIASA premises for vehicle driversA subsidized canteen offering a choice of lunch menus, freshly prepared dailyUse of our small but well-equipped gymThe option to become a member of a wide range of IIASA clubs such as the music club, soccer club, and “women in science” club among othersInvitations to many exciting social events throughout the year

IIASA is committed to a working environment that promotes equality, diversity, tolerance and inclusion within its workforce. This is reflected in our Core Values. We encourage 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 from countries where IIASA has a National Member Organization (NMO).


POSITION TYPE

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DEGREE REQUIRED