Research Assistant in Water Resource and Agricultural Systems

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

Vienna, , AT

Vacancy 01/2020 – As part of the Austrian Development Agency-funded project ”Scaling out Resilient Water and Agricultural Systems in East Africa” (scaleWAYS), we are offering a part-time position for a Research Assistant


The IIASA Water (WAT) Program in collaboration with the IIASA Risk and Resilience (RISK) Program is conducting research on ways to upscale innovative agricultural water management practices in East Africa within the framework of the project scaleWAYS. The project aims to contribute to resilience of land and water resources, improved health of ecosystems and human wellbeing in the extended Lake Victoria Basin  as these are threatened by a rapidly increasing population and economic growth, degradation of the environment and ecosystem, and the impacts of projected climate change for the coming decades. The project is implemented jointly by IIASA (Lead), the Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) and the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).

The project is structured in four output areas:

Output area 1 – Identification and scoping of pilot initiatives: Promising pilot initiatives for resilient local and regional agricultural water management are identified and scoped in detail to determine up scaling potential in selected agricultural production systems (rice-based system, fodder crops in agropastoral systems);

Output area 2 – Multi-dimensional up-scaling simulations: A biophysical and economic model for up scaling the sustainable intensification of selected agricultural practices in rice and fodder production is produced/adapted and tested;

Output area 3 – Political economy analysis and stakeholder engagement: Political economy aspects, social and gender dimensions relevant to the up scaling of selected pilot initiatives in selected agricultural production systems are analysed and level of understanding is documented;

Output area 4 – Capacity development: Capacities of practitioners and researchers from regional and local institutions from academia, government, NGOs and business advanced in the scope of the research project.


Under the direct supervision of the researchers responsible for output area 2, the successful candidate will mainly assist with research work supporting the implementation of output areas 1 and 2 above and report directly to the coordinator of the scaleWAYS project. Tasks include but are not limited to:

  • Review relevant literature (scientific papers and technical reports) in order to identify and frame pilot practices for sustainable intensification of agricultural production systems relevant for scaleWAYS (rice-based system, fodder crops in agropastoral systems). The research assistant will focus on rice-based systems 
  • Potentially conduct complementary field visits to collect data and information as identified by the scaleWAYS team. This may include biophysical and socio-economic information  
  • Aggregate and document collected data into structured data sets based on guidance provided by the scaleWAYS researchers (in particular researchers working on output area 2)
  • Contribute to develop biophysical and economic models for up scaling the selected intensification practices in rice and fodder production. This may include but is not limited to Aquacrop, GAEZ, CWatM and ECHO 
  • Support the scientific preparation of the participatory processes during the project.
  • Contribute to the communication of results (e.g., writing of reports and research papers, design of infographics).

Skills and Qualifications:

  • Master’s degree in agriculture, water resources management, natural resources management, environmental economics, or a related field 
  • Knowledge in agricultural systems, agroecology, livelihoods, resilience and sustainability science in developing and/or transition country settings
  • Communication and teamwork skills. Basic experience working in international and transdisciplinary projects 
  • Proven analytical skills and ease in manipulating large datasets and complex modeling systems
  • Basic knowledge of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) 
  • Basic programming knowledge (e.g., Python, R) advantageous
  • Willingness and interest in working in different socio-economic contexts including travels to developing countries
  • Demonstrated ability to work well both independently and as part of a multicultural team
  • Excellent English skills (written and oral) are required.

Appointment Terms:

The successful candidate will be offered a 50% part-time (20 hours per week) position with an initial contract of one year and the possibility for extension thereafter (the scaleWAYS project will run until the end of 2021). The successful candidate should be available to take up the position as soon as possible.

Duties will be carried out at the IIASA premises in Laxenburg, near Vienna in Austria. Occasional travel will be required.

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 from countries where IIASA has a National Member Organization (NMO).


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 (if available) to: 

[email protected]

Deadline for receipt of applications: 28 January 2020