Postdoctoral Researcher: Integrated Environmental Modelling

University of Edinburgh

Edinburgh, , GB

A postdoctoral research position is available in the field of integrated environmental modelling. We are seeking an individual with environmental modelling and quantitative analytical skills to work within an interdisciplinary research group focusing on land use and food security, in the School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh. The successful candidate will work on an existing global model of the food system, land use change and human dietary health (PLUM) and the development of new integrated modelling approaches for land use change, including urban, agricultural and forest land uses. This includes the further development of an agent-based model (ABM) to simulate the decisions of land managers in adapting to climate change (CRAFTY). The candidate will contribute to the research aims by helping to guide model development, testing and application, and will lead the identification and refinement of research questions, as well as developing innovative methodological approaches. The role will identify suitable datasets, as well as generating and analysing empirical data and model results. There are opportunities to shape the details of the research agenda, in consultation with other team members.

Candidates should hold a PhD (or be close to completion) and have appropriate experience indicated by publications in international peer reviewed journals.

The post is full-time for an initial fixed-term of 1 year starting on 1 May 2020. There is potential for the position to be extended by a further year.

Salary: Ue07 £33,797 – £40,322 per annum

Closing date is 25 February 2020 at 5pm GMT.

Informal inquiries to Prof. Mark Rounsevell ([email protected]) and Dr Peter Alexander ([email protected]).

1. Job Details

  • Job title: Postdoctoral Researcher
  • School/Support Department: GeoSciences
  • Unit: Institute of Geography & the Lived Environment
  • Line manager: Prof Mark Rounsevell and Dr. Peter Alexander
  • Start date: 1 May 2020
  • Duration: Fixed-term for 1 years (with the possibility of extension for a further year)

2. Job Purpose

Development and application of integrated models of the land system in the UK and globally. Contribute to existing (RUGS) and new research projects in collaboration with other UK academic organisations. Develop better theories and modelled representations of human decisional and behavioural processes.

3. Main Responsibilities (approximate % of time)

  • Apply the PLUM model of global land use change to a set of future climate and socio-economic change scenarios and explore the dietary health outcomes of the model results (20%)
  • Develop and test a model of urban land use change for the UK, based on an existing European scale model. (20%)
  • Apply an integrated environmental change model for the UK to a range of future climate and socio-economic scenarios, and analyse the model results (20%)
  • Further develop and apply to the UK an existing ABM of land user, adaptive decision making in response to climate change (20%)
  • Write and publish papers in peer-reviewed journals and contribute to writing research proposals, to deliver academic impact. (10%)
  • Close collaboration with national and international project partners and participation in academic conferences and workshops as part of personal research development. (5%)
  • Provide advice and support to relevant post-graduate students, and assist with other teaching. (5%)

4. Planning and organising

The post-holder will plan and manage their own programme of research activity on an ongoing basis, ensuring that the research is conducted in accordance with the research timetable agreed with the Principal Investigators.

5. Problem Solving

The problems to be faced are scientific and the post holder will supply the detailed expertise for delivering a solution. This will be achieved under instruction by, and with advice from, the Principal Investigators and other academic and senior research staff.

6. Decision making

The post holder, in agreement with the principal investigators, will determine the specific techniques and approaches to be used in the course of the research. They will organise their own workload according to priorities and adapt short-term time-lines as necessary, based on overall project deadlines.

7. Key contacts/relationships

The principal investigators and other project staff, as well as other members of the School, and collaborating researchers nationally and internationally. Public and private sector stakeholders participating with the project.

8. Knowledge, Skills and Experience Needed


  • A PhD (or be close to completion) in environmental modelling, or relevant disciplines, such as economics, computer science or informatics, physics, or mathematics.
  • Exposure to and knowledge of environmental change issues and models.
  • High degree of quantitative analytical skills.
  • Research interest in environmental issues.
  • Skills in writing for academic and/or other audiences, evidenced by peer reviewed publications.
  • Excellent organisational and communication skills.
  • Proven ability to work independently and as a member of a team.


  • Experience of ‘big data’ or model uncertainty analysis.
  • Spatial data analysis and visualisation.
  • Knowledge of climate change impacts, or land use change issues.
  • R and/or Java programming.
  • Relevant postdoctoral experience.
  • Experience of preparing funding proposals.

9. Job context

The candidate will join an interdisciplinary research group with a focus on land use and food security, in the University of Edinburgh, School of GeoSciences. The group uses methods, including simulation modelling, to investigate the effects of individual, institutional, and governmental policies on the land system, underpinned by human behaviour and decision-making. The role will be part of a team working on an existing project, the “Resilience of the UK food system to Global Shocks” (RUGS), which is UK research council funded (BBSRC, ESRC & NERC) under the Global Food Security (GFS) programme, and new emerging UKRI funded projects.

Application Procedure

All applicants should apply online by clicking the apply link at the bottom of this page and submitting an up to date CV. The application process is quick and easy to follow, and you will receive email confirmation of safe receipt of your application. The online system allows you to submit a CV and other attachments.

We anticipate interviews will be held in the week commencing the 2nd of March 2020. You will be notified by email whether you have been shortlisted for interview or not.

Closing date is 25 February 2020 at 5pm GMT.

Right to Work

In accordance with the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 and Immigration Act 2016 the University of Edinburgh, as an employer, has a legal responsibility to prevent illegal working and therefore must check that all employees are entitled to work in the United Kingdom (UK).
To do so, the University requires to see original documents evidencing right to work in the UK before commencement of employment and this is normally carried out at interview. Details will be provided in any letter of invitation to interview.

For further information on right to work please visit our right to work webpage

If you are from outside the EEA and not currently eligible to work in the UK, there are visa routes that may be available to you, for example:

  1. Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent): If you are an academic in the field of sciences; humanities; engineering; medicine; digital technology; or the arts, it may be possible for you to apply for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa. This route requires you to apply to be endorsed as an internationally recognised leader or emerging leader in your particular field by a designated competent body (Arts Council England, British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering, Royal Society, Tech City UK). However, if you are applying for a senior academic role, e.g. Professor/Reader there is an accelerated route to endorsement. Further information can be found on the UKVI website
  2. Tier 2: The University is a UKVI licensed sponsor and is able to issue a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to successful candidates who are offered highly skilled roles and meet the eligibility criteria. The CoS enables candidates to apply for a Tier 2 (general visa).

Please note if you were last granted leave to stay in the UK in any Tier 2 category in the 12 months immediately preceding an application and the leave has

  • ended or expired.
  • the CoS which led to that grant of leave was issued for more than 3 months, and
  • you are either:
    • applying for entry clearance from outside the UK, or
    • you are in the UK and had a previous period of Tier 2 leave, but then changed (‘switched’) into a different immigration category and now wishes to apply again under Tier 2.

You must wait 12 months before applying again.

Further information about whether you require a visa and other visa routes can be found at:

Conditions of Employment

Pension Scheme

This role is grade UE07 and therefore the post holder is automatically included in membership of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), subject to the USS membership criteria, unless they indicate that they choose not to join the Scheme.

For further information please visit our Pensions website.


The role is grade UE07 and attracts an annual salary of £33,797 to £40,322 for 35 hours per week. Salary is paid monthly by direct transfer to your Bank or Building Society account, normally on the 28th of the month. Salaries for part-time staff are calculated on the full-time scales, pro-rata to the Standard Working Week.

The University reserves the right to vary the candidate information or make no appointment at all. Neither in part, nor in whole does this information form part of any contract between the University and any individual.