Job Postings

2-year Postdoc/Researcher position in agent-based modelling of cross-scale interactions in agricultural food production systems

Project description
The MuSES project (Towards middle-range theory of the co-evolutionary dynamics of multi-level social-ecological systems (SES)) is an interdisciplinary five-year project funded by an ERC consolidator grant. It aims to identify social-ecological mechanisms of food system sustainability and resilience with a particular focus on cross-scale interactions in marine and terrestrial food production systems. We combine empirical research with dynamic modelling in collaborative processes to explore and explain how social-ecological interactions within and across scales give rise to different social-ecological outcomes. In its first half, the project focused on networks and dynamics of cross-scale trade-relations in small-scale fisheries and cross-level cooperation in natural resource use. In its second half, emphasis will be put on cross-scale trade or donor interactions in agricultural systems as well as mechanisms of policy adaption. The overall aim of the project is to contribute to the development of theory of social-ecological change.
The selected candidate will be part of the MuSES project and work in an interdisciplinary team that includes modelers, empirical researchers from the social and natural sciences and philosophers ( He/she will lead research on the development of an agent-based model of cross-scale interactions in agricultural food systems in a developing world context in close cooperation with empirical researchers within the project, at SRC and beyond.

Main responsibilities
The research involves leading the development of an empirically realistic but stylized agent-based model of food system sustainability with a focus on selected cross-scale interactions such as patron-client relationships between farmers and traders or international donor interventions. The purpose of the model is to identify critical social-ecological interactions that enable sustainable food production or that support a transitions towards more sustainable pathways. A key responsibility will be to integrate existing empirical knowledge into the design of the model and analyse the model to unravel the causal processes and conditions that may explain variation in outcomes. Another responsibility is to contribute to the development and analysis of social-ecological models within the team. It is expected that the candidate engages in joint activities of the team and generates research articles that push the frontiers of studying SES as complex adaptive systems of humans embedded in ecosystems.

Qualification requirements
Applicants must meet the following criteria:
• PhD or proven equivalent experience in a relevant area such as geography, land use science, landscape ecology, social-ecological systems, sustainability science, social simulation, agent-based modelling
• Strong skills in development and analysis of agent-based models
• Experience with modelling land use/agricultural systems or with combining networks and network analysis with agent-based modelling
• Strong programming skills (e.g., netlogo, R, Python, etc.)
• Excellent teamwork and collaboration skills
• Curiosity and openness to exploring novel approaches and perspectives
• Proven ability to design, execute and publish scientific articles based on complex model analysis
• Excellent English language, writing, comprehension and communication.

Assessment criteria
The following additional criteria are particularly desirable:
• Previous research related to agricultural food production systems and trade or donor interventions
• Experience in collaborative model building processes
• Interest in theory development
• Background knowledge of the literature in agent-based modelling of land/agricultural systems
• Knowledge of social science theories related to social or social-ecological interactions (social or environmental psychology, economic sociology, etc.)


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