Research Associate (Distributed Systems and Cybersecurity)

Updated: about 1 month ago
Location: Cardiff, WALES


Research Associate in Distributed Systems and Cybersecurity
Cardiff University School of Computer Science & Informatics

Applications are invited for a Research Associate (Distributed Systems & Cybersecurity) post at Cardiff University's School of Computer Science & Informatics. This is a full-time, fixed-term post until 31 December 2021. The successful candidate will be dedicated to finding creative solutions and have a genuine curiosity and enthusiasm to undertake world-class research in the field of distributed computing (particularly cloud computing) and cybersecurity. This will involve conducting research within the EPSRC-funded "Privacy-Aware Cloud Ecosystems" (PACE) project, which investigates the use of a container-based technology for storing data access/modification events.

The project will particularly explore how such events can be used as a basis to assess compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The successful candidate will also contribute to the overall research performance of the School and University by the production of measurable outputs including publishing in academic journals and conferences. You will work closely with Professor Omer Rana at Cardiff and other team members located in Cardiff, Newcastle and UCL (London). You will possess or be near to completion of, a PhD in Computer Science or a related area, or have relevant industrial experience.

Cardiff University has a successful School of Computer Science & Informatics with an international reputation for its teaching and research activities. We are a research-led School with a longstanding, international reputation for applied research activities, and collaborate with more than 100 UK and international academic and industrial partners. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) 99% of our submitted research was rated at least of international standard with 79% classed as "internationally excellent" or "world leading". The School delivers a stimulating portfolio of BSc and MSc degrees and offers research degrees leading to MPhil and PhD qualifications. For more information on the School please visit our website:  

Cardiff University is committed to supporting all its employees in achieving the necessary balance between their work and their personal lives. As part of this commitment, the University has developed a flexible and responsive framework of support for staff in managing their work and personal commitments wherever possible.

We particularly welcome applications from women who are under-represented within Cardiff University in this field.

For an informal discussion of the role please contact Professor Omer Rana by email at  

For an informal discussion about flexible working and work-life balance please contact Charlie Balcombe by email at

This is a full-time and fixed-term post until 31 December 2021, available immediately.

Salary:  £33,797 - £40,322 per annum (Grade 6).  The appointment will be made, dependent on relevant qualifications and experience, within the Grade 6 scale, between point 30 and 33.

Date advert posted: Thursday, 12 November 2020

Closing date: Sunday, 13 December 2020

This post has previously been advertised to employees of Cardiff University only.  We now invite external applications.

Please be aware that Cardiff University reserves the right to close this vacancy early should sufficient applications be received.

Cardiff University is committed to supporting and promoting equality and diversity and to creating an inclusive working environment. We believe this can be achieved through attracting, developing, and retaining a diverse range of staff from many different backgrounds who have the ambition to create a University which seeks to fulfil our social, cultural and economic obligation to Cardiff, Wales, and the world.  In supporting our employees to achieve a balance between their work and their personal lives, we will also consider proposals for flexible working or job share arrangements.

Job Description

Main Function

To conduct distributed systems and cybersecurity research within the EPSRC-funded “Privacy-Aware Cloud Ecosystems” project and contribute to the overall research performance of the School and University, carrying out research leading to the publishing of work in high-quality journals. To pursue excellence in research and to inspire others to do the same.

Main Duties and Responsibilities


  • To conduct distributed systems and cyber security research within the EPSRC-funded “Privacy-Aware Cloud Ecosystems” project, which investigates the development of specialist container technologies to support data privacy in cloud systems (see additional information), and contribute to the overall research performance of the School and University by the production of measurable outputs including bidding for funding, publishing in national academic journals and conferences, and the recruitment and supervision of postgraduate research students.

  • To develop research objectives and proposals for own or joint research including research funding proposals.

  • To attend and/or present at conferences/seminars at a local and national level as required.

  • To undertake administrative tasks associated with the research project, including the planning and organisation of the project and the implementation of procedures required to ensure accurate and timely reporting.

  • To review and synthesise existing research literature within the field.

  • To participate in School research activities.

  • To build and create networks both internally and externally to the university, to influence decisions, explore future research requirements, and share research ideas for the benefit of research projects.


  • To engage effectively with industrial, commercial and public sector stakeholders, professional institutions, other academic institutions etc., regionally and nationally  to raise awareness of the School’s profile, to cultivate strategically valuable alliances, and to pursue opportunities for collaboration across a range of activities. These activities are expected to contribute to the School and the enhancement of its regional and national profile.

  • To undergo personal and professional development that is appropriate to and which will enhance performance.

  • To prepare research ethics and research governance applications as appropriate.

  • To participate in School administration and activities to promote the School and its work to the wider University and the outside world

  • Any other duties not included above, but consistent with the role.

Person Specification

Important: Evidencing you match the job criteria

It is Cardiff University's policy to use the person specification as a key tool for shortlisting. Candidates should evidence that they meet ALL of the Essential Criteria as well as, where relevant, the Desirable. Meeting all of the Essential Criteria does not guarantee you an interview however, as there may be other applicants who have demonstrated that they meet some or all of the desirable criteria, or that they meet the criteria to a greater depth and/or relevance.
As part of the application process you are asked to provide this evidence via a Supporting Statement.  Please ensure that the evidence you are providing corresponds with the numbered criteria outlined below.  Your application will be considered based on the information you provide under each criteria.
When attaching the supporting statement to your application profile, please ensure that you name it with the vacancy reference number - 10520BR_supporting_statement.

Essential Criteria

Qualifications and Education

1.   Postgraduate degree at PhD level (or nearing completion) in a related subject area or relevant industrial experience.
Knowledge, Skills and Experience

2.   An established expertise and proven portfolio of research and/or relevant industrial experience within the following research fields:

  • Distributed Systems (such as Cloud computing)

  • Cybersecurity

3.   Knowledge of current status of research in distributed systems and/or cybersecurity (such as Blockchains).

4.   Proven ability to publish in international conferences or journals.

5.   Knowledge and understanding of competitive research funding to be able to develop applications to funding bodies.

Communication and Team Working

6.   Proven ability in effective and persuasive communication.

7.   Proven ability to demonstrate creativity, innovation and team-working within work.

8.   Proven ability to work without close supervision.

Desirable Criteria

  • Relevant professional qualification(s).

  • Evidence of collaborations with industry.

  • Evidence of independent work.

  • Evidence of working as part of a team.

  • Evidence of ability to participate in and develop both internal and external networks and utilise them to enhance the research activities of the School.

  • A willingness to take responsibility for academically related administration.

  • Ability to supervise the work of others to focus team efforts and motivate individuals.

  • Additional Information

    EPSRC “Privacy Aware Cloud Ecosystems” (PACE) project summary
    With increasing take up of externally hosted services (from government, finance, entertainment), often hosted over Cloud computing infrastructure, there is a realisation that on-line electronic services can involve an interlinked set of providers. Increasingly, such providers can be mobile services at the network edge, often referred to a “micro data centres”. Users of these services only interact with a Web interface rather than the larger, distributed service ecosystem. They often entrust their data and identity without realising that the service provider may share their data with several back-end services (Cloud hosted analytics, advertisers). While this has been a problem in the past, it will be greatly exacerbated by the expansion of internet connected devices. In order to address this, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will be implemented to ensure that non-expert users can make informed decisions about their privacy and thereby give ‘informed consent’ to the use, sharing and repurposing of their personal data. There are a number of challenges to facilitate this, both for individuals who need to provide consent and for data controllers who need to obtain it.
    As a means of addressing this, we propose a technological solution in the form of a mobile software “container” that will ensure that all access instances are securely logged. The log from these instances will be recorded using a Blockchain. This will improve transparency, enable an audit trail of providers and facilitate greater trust between users and service providers. A user-specified policy with the container can also intercept access attempts to user data, preventing policy violations. This multi-disciplinary project (involving computer science, business, law and policy) will employ socio-economic modelling as well as legal and policy analysis to investigate the trade-offs between data privacy and usability. Ultimately, the outcome of the project will be a privacy-aware service provisioning mechanism that enables: (i) greater trust between users and cloud providers; (ii) emergence of new actors that can offer services; (iii) a data market place that enables greater control of personal data by users.

    Job Category

    Academic - Research

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