Hutton 03-20 - Social Systems Simulation Modeller

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Posted: 09/03/2020 09:52
Start Date: Not Available
Salary: Circa £31,365
Location: Aberdeen
Level: Hutton D
Deadline: 06/04/2020 09:00
Hours: 37
Benefits: Generous
Job Type: Fixed term - 3 years Tenure Track

The work undertaken by The James Hutton Group is right at the top of the global agenda tackling problems such as the impact of climate change and threats to food and water security.

ICS comprises a wide portfolio of skills, working at a range of scales from molecular to global.  The Group exploits expertise in bioinformatics, geoinformatics, soil science, community planning, policy analysis, risk assessment and integrated complex systems modelling, as well as research computing and high-performance computing (HPC). The skills and experience embodied in the ICS teams enable the Group to act as leaders, integrators and enablers of complex interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary projects.

This is an exciting opportunity for a skilled and motivated Social Simulation Researcher to join a world-class team developing agent-based modelling methodology to analyse real-world scenarios. The ideal candidate will be a team player, who loves to see the application of science to stakeholder-led challenges, pays attention to detail, interacts well with colleagues, and gets a thrill out of collaborative, inter- and trans-disciplinary working.

The successful candidate will be working on the delivery of a portfolio of projects funded by the Scottish Government and the European Commission, applying agent-based modelling to real-world problems, and developing the science needed to do so. For the European Commission, the candidate will be working on the Horizon 2020 project SMARTEES ( simulating case studies of social innovation to address fuel poverty and district regeneration in Aberdeen (UK), Timişoara (Romania) and Sweden. Work for the Scottish Government entails simulating resilience of rural industries to shocks such as changes in trading arrangements; modelling scenarios of international trade and food security; and simulating dietary change. The work will involve designing and implementing new agent-based models and modifications to existing ones, integrating data to populate the models, running them using our computing cluster, analysing the results, and preparing scientific publications, policy briefs and presentations to scientific and stakeholder audiences. Our current tools are based around NetLogo, R, Python, Perl, Java, git and Sun Grid Engine. Training will be given where needed. The candidate will also be encouraged to apply for their own research funding and develop their own networks of collaborations to pursue their research interests.

The post requires a Ph.D. in a relevant subject, such as computational social science, complex systems, or distributed AI, with undergraduate degree level coursework in the social sciences, such as psychology, economics (including heterodox economics), sociology or social anthropology. We are looking for someone with a track record in developing and publishing agent-based modelling work, interest in applying social simulation to the Institute’s three scientific challenges, and a willingness and enthusiasm for international and interdisciplinary collaborations. It is also essential that the candidate is capable of delivering to multiple projects at the same time; can write, test and debug computer code that formalises qualitative knowledge; has data analysis skills; and can present complex ideas to diverse audiences.

This post is based in Aberdeen but there may be a requirement to travel between sites. The post involves international travel, mainly in Europe, typically for periods of up to a week at a time.

More information on the detail of the post and the post holder can be found below in the job description.

Main Purpose of Job          
The main purpose of the job is to undertake research creating and use agent base social simulation tools with policy makers and other stakeholder groups to deliver outputs that can feed directly into policy deliberations or complex multi-stakeholder management issues in environmentally embedded social systems. The post- holder will be expected to  bring that  work  successfully  to publication;  and to participate  in,  and will  be encouraged to lead, proposals for conducting further such work.

The post holder will work with existing members of the agent-based social simulation team.

 Main duties of post holder

  • Lead and participate in research projects funded by the Scottish Government (e.g. WP2.4, WP3.2, WP3.3) and externally (e.g. H2020).
  • Collaborate in interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary teams
  • Prepare articles on research work for submission to international journals and conferences
  • Prepare reports on research work to funding agencies and stakeholders
  • Present work to stakeholder audiences (e.g. Scottish Government and Aberdeen Council)
  • Lead and participate in preparing bids for submission to competitive funding agencies



  • Ph.D. in computational social sciences, complex systems, or distributed AI
  • Degree-level  course  or  full  qualification  in  the  social  sciences  –  psychology,  economics (including heterodox economics), sociology or anthropology
  • Track record of developing agent-based models
  • Interest  in  application  areas  of  agent-based  social  simulation  relevant  to  the  institute’s science challenges (and especially food security and sustainability for now)
  • Track  record  leading  publications  of  academic  work  (or  if  fresh  out  of  Ph.D.,  articles submitted to journals from thesis)
  • Formalisation of qualitative knowledge
  • Computer programming experience
  • Data analysis
  • Willingness, ability and enthusiasm to collaborate in inter- and trans-disciplinary  research teams
  • Presenting complex ideas to diverse audiences
  • Ability to deliver to multiple projects at the same time
  • Excellent written and spoken English
  • Will need to be able to travel abroad for up to 1-2 weeks at a time, 2-3 times per year


  • Experience with NetLogo, bash, Java, Perl, Python and R
  • Knowledge of and/or experience in transdisciplinary, participatory or companion modelling
  • Machine learning
  • Experience working successfully in inter- and trans-disciplinary research teams
  • Successful application for funding for an academic activity
  • Project management
  • Data visualization
  • Evidence of having published material either in journals with a multidisciplinary audience, or in disciplinary journals associated with different disciplines


We will not consider the use of 3rd party recruitment agencies for the sourcing of candidates for this position.   


The James Hutton Institute is an equal opportunity employer. We celebrate diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for all employees.


The James Hutton Institute is a: Stonewall Diversity Champion; Athena SWAN Bronze Status Holder; Disability Confident Committed Employer and a Living Wage Employer




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