Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Environment, Water Quality and Behavioural Change

Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI)

Dublin, , IE

The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) wishes to make a 3-year appointment to work on behavioural change issues surrounding water quality.  The post also entails an adjunct position at Trinity College Dublin.

The Institute

The ESRI, founded in 1960, is located in Dublin’s South Docklands area. Our mission is to produce high quality research, relevant to Ireland’s economic and social development, with the aim of contributing to knowledge and informing policymaking and public debate.

Water research programme at the ESRI

The ESRI has a multi-year research programme on water with the objective of informing public policy decisions aimed at improving water quality within Ireland.  The research programme is funded by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, who have responsibility for River Basin Management Planning within the context of the EU Water Framework Directive.  Programme research covers a range of dimensions both methodologically and across topic areas (i.e. general public, public sector, industry, agriculture) within the water dimension.

Academic collaborations are an important dimension of research and we also enjoy strong collaboration and engagement with industry stakeholders (e.g. EPA, Teagasc, LAWPRO) and via quarterly research programme steering committee meetings with the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Local Authority Waters Programme (LAWPRO), Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, Institute of Public Administration’s Water Governance Research Project, An Foram Uisce / The Water Forum, and the County and City Management Association.

Role Description

The successful candidate will join a team of dedicated researchers and will be encouraged to develop as well as lead on their own research projects.  Multidisciplinary collaboration with environmentalists, agronomists, economists, mathematicians or social scientists from academic and national policy institutions is a feature of the research work.  The successful candidate will have opportunities to disseminate their research findings to stakeholders and at conferences, while publication in leading international, peer-reviewed journals is expected.

Ongoing and proposed research projects include:

  • Evaluation of community engagement activities (led by LAWPRO) in affecting behavioural change in relation protection of local water catchments
  • Assessment of knowledge and water-quality proofing in the provision of local authority led services (e.g. planning, water, roads functions)
  • Understanding the triggers for community engagement and the drivers underpinning higher levels of engagement with LAWPRO to understand the relative success of its different types of engagement and identify potential barriers to engagement
  • Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advice Programme (ASSAP): An evaluation of the impact of tailored farm advisory service identifying systematic differences in outcomes related reducing diffuse water pollution
  • Identify behavioural/attitudinal issues related to water quality among young farmers (i.e. agricultural college students), including priority of water protection within on-farm decisions and intergenerational differences in attitudes
  • Identify the effectiveness of Farm Discussion Groups as a conduit for behaviour change related to water protection practices
  • Using National Farm Survey/Census of Agriculture data assess how agri-environmental subsidy payments impact on farming practices (stocking density, intensity of production, etc.) that may ultimately impact on water quality and identify long-term trends of farming behaviour/productivity related to environmental protection subsidy payments

Skills, Qualifications and Experience

Successful candidates will have a PhD (completed or nearing completion) in any quantitative discipline, and ideally will have their work published in leading international, peer-reviewed journals. Candidates with some (or all) the following skills are encouraged to apply:

  • Quantitative data analysis
  • Statistics/econometrics
  • Knowledge/expertise in agricultural practices, biodiversity, water quality
  • Survey design and administration, e.g. sampling, choice experiments, etc.
  • Software skills: Matlab, R, or other coding languages

The successful candidate will be expected to take a lead in defining and developing the methods applied in the project and should have experience in independently developing their research work. In addition, candidates should have a demonstrated ability to work successfully in teams and on their own initiative, have excellent interpersonal and communication skills, and a proven ability to deliver high quality outputs to deadlines. Experience of engaging with research/policy stakeholders is desirable.

Terms & Application Procedure

The role is full-time (37 hours per week – standard working hours are 09.00-17.30, Monday – Thursday and 09.00-17.00, Friday). Appointments will be on a three-year, fixed-term contract basis and salary will be in the range €41,876 – €46,412, commensurate with experience. The successful candidate will be based in our offices in Dublin 2. The appointee will hold an adjunct position at Trinity College Dublin.

The closing date for applications is 29 March 2021. All applications will be acknowledged. While the ESRI’s offices are currently closed due to COVID-19, the successful candidates will be expected to work remotely in Republic of Ireland for a temporary period until the office reopens. Late or incomplete applications will not be processed.  

The ESRI is an equal opportunities employer and is committed to accommodating the needs of people with disabilities to enable them to participate in the selection process. Please let us know if you have any particular requirements should you be invited for assessment/interview or that you wish us to take into account when considering your application.