PhD position at UFZ Leipzig on Model-based exploration of leverage points to foster sustainable nitrogen management in German agriculture

The POLISES group ( at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research UFZ Leipzig, Germany, is offering a three years PhD Position on  “Model-based exploration of leverage points to foster sustainable nitrogen management in German agriculture starting May 1, 2022 on with a methodological focus on social-ecological modelling and agent-based modelling.

The aim of the PhD project is to investigate the effects of policy measures for sustainable nitrogen management of farmers in Germany. This shall be achieved by developing an integrated model complex that makes both the socio-economic and the biophysical sides of the system explicit and thus allows the consideration of various types of policy measures as well as feedbacks within the system.

The deadline for application is March 4, 2022.

Your tasks:
  • Develop an agent-based model that includes farmers’ decisions on nitrogen management under a variety of potential policy measures in a dynamic and spatially explicit manner
  • Couple the agent-based model with a (simplified) biogeophysical model that simulates the effect of farmers’ nitrogen management on environmental nitrate pollution, taking into account biogeophysical and the socio-economic feedbacks
  • Parametrize the coupled model with empirical data obtained from different sources
  • Use the model to explore the effect of different policies to change farmers’ nitrogen management on environmental nitrogen pollution and to derive recommendations for the design of such policy measures
  • Collaborate with researchers from different Thematic Areas at UFZ relevant in the given context and thereby foster cross-sectional research activity at the UFZ
Your profile:
  • An excellent master’s degree in a relevant field of research, including system sciences, mathematics, physics, agricultural economics, geography, sustainability science
  • Expertise in modelling and analyzing complex systems (experience in agent-based modelling is beneficial)
  • Proficiency in computer programming (e.g. NetLogo, C++, Java, Python) and advanced statistical methods
  • Deep interest in investigating farmer behavior and its consequences from an interdisciplinary perspective, involving sociological, economical, ecological and biogeophysical considerations
  • Excellent knowledge of spoken and written English and ambition to publish in international journals
  • High motivation to work in an international and interdisciplinary team
  • Readiness to travel within and beyond Europe to attend conferences, workshops and courses