Hutton 21-21 - Social Systems Simulation Modeller

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Posted: 08/04/2021 14:16
Start Date: Not Available
Salary: £31,522.00
Location: Aberdeen
Level: Hutton D
Deadline: 04/05/2021 23:59
Hours: 37.00
Benefits: Generous
Job Type: Permanent

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.

We are seeking a collaborative and motivated Social Simulation Researcher to join our world-class team developing agent-based modelling methodology to investigate 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 working together in inter- and trans-disciplinary teams.

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, evaluating the results, and preparing scientific publications, policy briefs and presentations to scientific and stakeholder audiences. 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 the social sciences, such as psychology, economics (including heterodox economics), sociology or social anthropology. We are looking for someone with experience in agent-based modelling work (or can demonstrate their willingness to learn), 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; has good quantitative 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 using agent-based 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 supported to bring that work successfully to publication; and to participate in, and encouraged to lead, proposals for conducting further such work.

The post holder will work in collaboration with existing members of the agent-based social simulation team. For further information please read the detailed job description or contact Dr Gary Polhill for an informal discussion.

Note: Due to the current covid-19 lockdown restrictions, it is likely that interviewing of candidates will be held remotely. It may even be necessary to start work remotely too. You should therefore ensure you have access to a broadband connection and webcam and ideally a PC or laptop (most of the development software we use is freely available).

Main duties of post holder

  • Manage 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, Local Authorities)
  • Participate in preparing bids for submission to competitive funding agencies



  • Ph. D. in computational social sciences or social sciences such as psychology or economics (including heterodox economics).
  • Interest in application areas of agent-based social simulation relevant to the institute’s science challenges (and especially food security and sustainability for now), and motivation to make a difference.
  • Experience with agent-based social simulation, or demonstrable commitment and interest to learn.
  • Track record in publishing their academic work in peer-reviewed journals (or if fresh out of Ph. D., articles submitted to journals from thesis)
  • Experience with computer programming or quantitative data analysis and integration
  • 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 developing one or more agent-based models.
  • Experience working successfully in inter- and trans-disciplinary research teams
  • Publications relevant to social simulation of social-ecological systems

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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