Vacancy for Research Scholar to Support the Earth Commission in Laxenburg Austria


Deadline: 30 April 2020


2030 Agenda provides an aspirational and ambitious sustainable development goals and their targets for the people and the planet. Setting science-based targets for addressing major planetary challenges is an essential pre-requisite for achieving the 2030 Agenda and sustainable future for all.

The Earth Commission is a group of 19 leading scientists convened by Future Earth and was established precisely to provide Earth and human systems targets for achieving 2030 Agenda. The mission is to assess the latest science to underpin the development of science-based targets for systems like climate, land, biodiversity, freshwater and oceans. The Earth Commission is part of the Global Commons Alliance established Global Environment Facility (GEF), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Future Earth (FE), International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), University of Exeter (UoE), and World Resources Institute (WRI), amongst others. The Earth and Human System Modelling Inter-comparison Project (EHSMIP) of the Earth Commission is complementary to and builds on existing assessments, such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), Global Environmental Outlook reports and scientific networks such as The World in 2050 (TWI2050), Integrated Assessment Modeling Consortium (IAMC) and Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6). The objective is to link the Earth-system model inter-comparison with IAM scenario analyses.

In support of the Earth Commission, IIASA together with Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and University of Exeter (UoE), is hosting the Scientific Secretariat of Earth and Human System Modelling Inter-comparison Project (EHSMIP).


The successful applicant will join the research team in the TNT Program working on EHSMIP and TWI2050. Responsibilities include the assessment of pathways and scenarios of future developments and the resulting forcing of the Earth systems. The main objective is to identify targets or boundaries that delineate critical functioning of Earth systems and identify development strategies and pathways that are contained within these constraints.

This would involve working with an international and interdisciplinary teams at IIASA, PIK, UoE, the Earth Commission and TWI2050.

Responsibilities include writing and publication of articles in peer-reviewed, presenting research findings at meetings and conferences, and contributing to reports within the scope of the Earth Commission targeted at policy makers.

The successful applicant will also coordinate the establishment of the EHSMIP data-portal to be hosted at IIASA and will manage the participating models, modeling groups and scenario runs. This will require the establishment of a thorough taxonomy, a related modeling protocol and documentation as well as a user-friendly interfaces. This global open data-portal will collect the first community-based generation of inter-comparable full-scale Earth-system model runs exploring the quantitative scientific targets.

Finally, the successful candidate will be responsible for coordination of work and communication flows among team members, in particular with colleagues at PIK and UOE. The incumbent will be main contact point between the Earth Commission secretariat at Future Earth EHSMIP members, the scientific secretariats of other working groups within the Earth Commission and other inter-comparison networks and bodies from the community, such as CMIP6 and IAMC.


  • Background in earth-system, climate and/or integrated assessment modeling
  • Scientific writing skills and the ability to present factual, data-driven information effectively
  • Experience with the maintenance and interpretation of large data sets
  • Strong scientific programming skills in structured languages such as Python, R or Matlab
  • Experience with relational (SQL-based) databases and/or with optimization modeling systems
  • Full proficiency in English as working language
  • High organizations skills, coordinating inputs and follow up
  • Intercultural sensitivity and experience in working in an international setting 
  • Able to demonstrate initiative and work independently as well as in close collaboration with the rest of the team
  • Excellent interpersonal, networking and communication skills


Candidates should have a university degree in natural, technical or economic sciences, or in environmental engineering and should have a strong background in earth-system, climate and/or integrated assessment modeling. A PhD is not required but will be considered an asset. Proficiency with programming and/or statistical software such as Python, R or Matlab is desired, as well as experience with relational databases and optimization systems. We expect up to 5 years of work experience for this position.

Candidates are expected to be strong communicators and have a track record in coordinating teams and have relevant skills to present the work at workshops with policy makers. IIASA offers an interdisciplinary workplace, with strong ties to a world-wide network of research institutions engaged in environmental systems research.


In Order To Apply For This Opportunity, You Will Need To Provide The Following Documents:

  • A detailed Curriculum Vitae
  • A letter of application outlining your motivation and fit to the position 
  • The names and contact details of three work-related reference givers (including title, affiliation, e-mail, and telephone number)
  • Three letters of recommendation related to previous research activities and achievements
  • Copies of three major publications.