Postdoctoral Research Associate in environmental simulation modelling

Durham University

Durham, UK 🇬🇧

Postdoctoral Research Associate (Job Number: 23000093)

Department of Geography

Grade 7: – £35,333 – £37,474 per annum

Fixed Term – Full Time

Contract Duration: 33 months

Contracted Hours per Week: 35

Closing Date: 20-Feb-2023, 1:59:00 AM

Disclosure and Barring Service Requirement: Not Applicable. 

Job Title: Postdoctoral Research Associate  
Department: Geography
Grade: Grade 7
Salary range: £35,333 – £37,474   
Working arrangements: Full-time – fixed term
Closing date: Redeployment – Thursday 2nd February 2023      
Potential interview date: 

The University

At Durham University we are proud of our people.  A globally outstanding centre of educational excellence, a collegiate community of extraordinary people, a unique and historic setting – Durham is a university like no other. We believe that inspiring our people to do outstanding things at Durham enables Durham people to do outstanding things professionally and personally.  
Across the University we have a huge variety of roles and career opportunities, which together make us a large and successful community, which is a key hub of activity within our region and nationally.  We would be thrilled if you would consider joining our thriving University. Further information about the University can be found here 

The Role and Department
The Department of Geography at Durham comprises 68 academic staff (approximately equally divided between physical and human geography), a graduate school of around 100 research students, around 40 taught postgraduate students and more than 650 undergraduates. The Department is well supported with technical staff, including a cartography unit, and administrative staff.

The Department was ranked joint first for research quality among UK geography departments in REF2021 and third for research power. With 54% of work assessed as being in the highest category, it produced the largest number of world-leading (4*) publications in the country. The most recent QS rankings for Geography placed Durham 7th overall in the world, its 5th year in the top ten, and 1st for citations in the discipline. The department is recurrently ranked in the top handful of programmes in the UK by various league tables; in 2016, we were ranked 2nd in the Times Good University Guide and 3rd in both the Complete University Guide and the Guardian University Guide.

Our aim is to sustain and support hubs of leadership in geographical scholarship – broadly conceived. We will maintain our reputation for theoretical and conceptual innovation so that we are shaping and leading debates globally.

We will continue to engage concepts and materials from across disciplinary boundaries to renew geographical scholarship and bring geographical perspectives to bear in other domains. We work across every continent and most major oceans, and embrace the full diversity of methods and data available to the discipline.

We are further developing our core undergraduate programmes and will be recruiting world leading staff accordingly to ensure these programmes continue to offer the highest quality of education that develop students with skills to advance scholarly and public debates to which geography is central. The quality of our undergraduate students, and the degree programmes which ensue, combine with our large graduate school to provide a teaching experience for staff that is truly excellent.

The Role

Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral Research Associate in environmental simulation modelling with a particular emphasis on catchment hydrological and water quality modelling under projected climate and land use change. The research project is funded by NERC under the Freshwaters programme and is called “Assessing and Managing The Impacts Of Mixtures Of Chemicals On UK Freshwater Biodiversity In A Changing World”. The overall project will consider how the changing climate and land use will affect the export of a range of chemicals and nutrients to the freshwater environment and their impact on biodiversity. Durham University is leading the catchment hydrology and biogeochemical modelling and these results will feed into the water chemistry work at the University of York and the biological impacts work at the University of Sheffield.

The successful applicant will be expected to undertake the simulation modelling work with the HYPE model for a range of catchments in northern England (Derwent, Swale, Ure, Nidd, Wharfe, Aire, Calder, Don and Ouse). The modelling work will consider how the changes projected by UKCP18 and a range of plausible land use change scenarios affect the quantity and quality of water entering the fluvial system. The modelling work will be undertaken within an uncertainty framework and will involve the use the High-Performance Computing resources at Durham University. The role will also be working with the project’s stakeholders to ensure that the scenarios and results are suitable for their needs and to develop communication materials, such as an interactive web dashboard, how-to manual and online videos.   


  • To understand and convey material of a specialist or highly technical nature to the team or group of people through presentations and discussions that leads to the presentation of research papers in conferences and publications.
  • To prepare and deliver presentations on research outputs/activities to audiences which may include: research sponsors, academic and non-academic audiences.
  • To publish high quality outputs, including papers for submission to peer reviewed journals and papers for presentation at conferences and workshops under the direction of the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder.
  • To assist with the development of research objectives and proposals.
  • To conduct individual and collaborative research projects under the direction of the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder.
  • To work with the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder and other colleagues in the research group, as appropriate, to identify areas for research, develop new research methods and extend the research portfolio.
  • To deal with problems that may affect the achievement of research objectives and deadlines by discussing with the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder and offering creative or innovative solutions.
  • To liaise with research colleagues and make internal and external contacts to develop knowledge and understanding to form relationships for future research collaboration.
  • To plan and manage own research activity, research resources in collaboration with others and contribute to the planning of research projects.
  • To deliver training in research techniques/approaches to peers, visitors and students as appropriate.
  • To be involved in student supervision, as appropriate, and assist with the assessment of the knowledge of students.
  • To contribute to fostering a collegial and respectful working environment which is inclusive and welcoming and where everyone is treated fairly with dignity and respect.
  • To engage in wider citizenship to support the department and wider discipline.
  • To engage in continuing professional development by participation in the undergraduate or postgraduate teaching programmes or by membership of departmental committees, etc. and by attending relevant training and development courses.   
  • [Any other specific responsibilities]. 

This post is fixed term for  33 months as the funding is available from 01/04/23 for this fixed period only 

The post-holder is employed to work on research/a research project which will be led by another colleague. Whilst this means that the post-holder will not be carrying out independent research in his/her own right, the expectation is that they will contribute to the advancement of the project, through the development of their own research ideas/adaptation and development of research protocols.

Successful applicants will, ideally, be in post by 1st April 2023.

Working at Durham 

A competitive salary is only one part of the many fantastic benefits you will receive if you join the University: you will also receive access to the following fantastic benefits: 

•    30 Days annual leave per year in addition to 8 public holidays and 4 customary days per year – a total of 42 days per year.  
•    The University closes between Christmas and New Year – please include or delete if not applicable. 
•    We offer a generous pension scheme, As a new member of staff you will be automatically enrolled  into the University Superannuation Scheme (USS).
•    No matter how you travel to work, we have you covered.  We have parking across campus, a cycle to work scheme which helps you to buy a bike and discount with local bus and train companies.
•    There is a genuine commitment to developing our colleagues professionally and personally.  There is a comprehensive range of development courses, apprenticeships and access to qualifications and routes to develop your career in the University.  All staff have dedicated annual time to concentrate on their personal development opportunities. 
•    Lots of support for health and wellbeing including discounted membership for our state of the art sport and gym facilities and access to a 24-7 Employee Assistance Programme.
•    On site nursery is available and children’s clubs in the summer holidays.
•    Family friendly policies, including maternity and adoption leave, which are among the most generous in the higher education sector (and likely above and beyond many employers).
•    The opportunity to take part in staff volunteering activities to make a difference in the local community
•    Discounts are available via our benefits portal including; money off at supermarkets, high street retailers, IT products such as Apple, the cinema and days out at various attractions. 
•    A salary sacrifice scheme is also available to help you take advantage of tax savings on benefits. 
•    If you are moving to Durham, we can help with removal costs and we have a dedicated team who can help you with the practicalities such as house hunting and schools.  If you need a visa, we cover most visa costs and offer an interest free loan scheme to pay for dependant visas.

Durham University is committed to equality diversity, inclusion and values

Our collective aim is to create an open and inclusive environment where everyone can reach their full potential and we believe our staff should reflect the diversity of the global community in which we work.  As a University equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) are a key part of the University’s Strategy and a central part of everything we do.  We also live by our values and our Staff Code of Conduct.  At Durham we actively work towards providing an environment where our staff and students can study, work and live in a community which is supportive and inclusive. It’s important to us that all of our colleagues are aligned to both our values and commitment to EDI.

We welcome and encourage applications from members of groups who are under-represented in our work force including people with disabilities, women and black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.  If you have taken time out of your career, and you feel it relevant, let us know about it in your application.  If you are a candidate with a disability, we are committed to ensuring fair treatment throughout the recruitment process. We will make adjustments to support the interview process wherever it is reasonable to do so and, where successful, reasonable adjustments will be made to support people within their role.

Contact Information 

Department contact for academic-related enquiries 

For informal enquiries please contact Dr. Sim M. Reaney ( All enquiries will be treated in the strictest confidence. 

Contact information for technical difficulties when submitting your application 

If you encounter technical difficulties when using the online application form, we prefer you send enquiries by email.  Please send your name along with a brief description of the problem you’re experiencing to 

Alternatively, you may call 0191 334 6801 from the UK, or +44 191 334 6801 from outside the UK. This number operates during the hours of 09.00 and 17.00 Monday to Friday, UK time.  We will normally respond within one working day (Monday to Friday, excluding UK public holidays).  

University contact for general queries about the recruitment process

How to Apply  

To progress to the assessment stage, candidates must evidence each of the essential criteria required for the role in the person specification below. It will be at the discretion of the recruiting panel as to whether they will also consider any desirable criteria, but we would urge candidates to provide evidence for all criteria.  

While some criteria will be considered at the shortlisting stage, other criteria may be considered later in the assessment process, such as questions at interview.  

Submitting your application 

We prefer to receive applications online.   We will update you about your application at various points throughout the selection process, via automated emails from our e-recruitment system. Please check your spam/junk folder periodically to make sure you have not missed any of our updates.

What to Submit 

All applicants are asked to submit: 

  • a CV and cover letter which details your experience, skills, and achievements in meeting (or the potential to meet) the criteria set out below.

Next Steps 

Short-listed candidates will be invited to the University, either virtually or in-person and will have the opportunity to meet key members of the Department.  The assessment for the post will be based on the evidence in the covering letter and CV for the candidate’s fit to the above criteria. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview and assessment on 23 March 23.

In the event that you are unable to attend in person on the date offered, it may not be possible to offer you an interview on an alternative date. 

Please note that in submitting your application Durham University will be processing your data. We would ask you to consider the relevant University Privacy Statement which provides information on the collation, storing and use of data.   

When appointing to this role the University must ensure that it meets any applicable immigration requirements, including salary thresholds which are applicable to some visas.

Person Specification

Essential Criteria:


  1. A good first degree in Geography, Environmental Science, Earth Science, Maths or a related discipline.
  2. A PhD (or be close to submission) in environmental simulation modelling or a related subject.


  1. Experience in conducting high-quality academic research.
  2. Demonstrable ability to write material of a quality commensurate with publication in highly-ranked journals.
  3. Demonstrable ability to present research papers at [national/international] conferences and communicate complex information to specialists and within the wider academic community.
  4. Experience in catchment hydrology and water quality
  5. Experience in environmental simulation modelling under uncertainty
  6. Understanding and experience of probabilistic projections of climate change
  7. Experience in communicating and working with stakeholders
  8. Experience with computer coding for data manipulation and visualisation (e.g. Python)


  1. Demonstrable ability to work cooperatively as part of a team, including participating in research meetings.
  2. Ability to work independently on own initiative and to strict deadlines.
  3. Excellent interpersonal and communication skills.

Desirable Criteria:


  1. Strong publication record in peer-reviewed journals, commensurate with stage of career.
  2. A track record of presenting research at conferences, symposia, or meetings, commensurate with stage of career.
  3. Demonstrable ability to develop research proposals and designs in collaboration with other academics.
  4. Experience in the use and application of the HYPE hydrological and water quality model.
  5. Experience with the UKCP18 projections.
  6. Experience with a range of techniques for the communication of modelling results, including web-based dashboards, science video production and how-to manuals.


  1. Demonstrable ability to plan and manage independent research. 
  2. Good project management skills





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