Two doctoral positions in social-ecological network modelling

Updated: 10 days ago
Job Type: Temporary

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100%, Zurich, temporary

The Chair for Planning of Landscape and Urban Systems (PLUS) at the Institute for Spatial and Landscape Development of ETH Zurich, is a young, dynamic and interdisciplinary research team addressing challenges in sustainable landscape and urban development. We are looking for two doctoral candidates who will study the long-term dynamics of spatial social-ecological networks and analyse emergent properties of these networks.

Project background

The two doctoral candidates will work in the project “EMPHASES: Assessing emergent phenomena in complex social-ecological systems with time series of settlement and habitat networks” financed by the Swiss National Science Foundation ( ). As much as human societies depend on networks of settlements that are well connected by roads and rail (i.e. settlement networks), animal species also depend on networks of well-​connected habitats (i.e. habitat networks). Settlement and habitat networks are complex social-​ecological networks due to the many interactions within and between the networks. By studying the long-term historical development of settlement and habitat networks in Switzerland, we aim to uncover and explain emergent social and ecological phenomena (e.g. regularities in temporal trends or network properties) that can increase our understanding of sustainable growth of urban regions. The networks will be constructed from historical databases and maps. The latter will be classified and vectorised by a third doctoral student in this project. The project is in collaboration with scientists from the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL and the Institute of Cartography and Geoinformation at ETH Zurich.

Job description

The two doctoral candidates will work on work packages 2 and 3 of the EMPHASES project (see project link above). While one doctoral candidate will be mainly responsible for the construction and analysis of the settlement network time-series, the other candidate will focus on the habitat networks. However, both researchers will work in close collaboration, as an important goal of the project is to analyse the interactions and feedbacks between the networks. Funding for both positions has been secured and both positions are for four years. The EMPHASES project will officially start on 1 April 2021.

Your profile

We are seeking two highly motivated candidates with an MSc degree in (Landscape) Ecology, Geography, Urban or Transport Planning, Geomatics or related discipline, who have experience with spatial modelling of urban, ecological or social-ecological systems, and excellent programming and GIS skills. Furthermore, the applicant should have an excellent command of English (both written and spoken), good interpersonal skills and an interest to work with both social and ecological systems.

ETH Zurich

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.

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