PhD position at UFZ Leipzig on “Modelling human-environment systems: How to effectively design climate risk instruments?”

In the POLISES group ( at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research UFZ Leipzig, Germany, a three years PhD Position on  “Modelling human-environment systems: How to effectively design climate risk instruments?” is offered from April 1, 2022 on with a methodological focus on agent-based modelling.

The PhD project is embedded in the interdisciplinary project INSURANCEGRASS on “Assessment of formal, natural and social insurances: how to cope best with impacts of extreme events on grasslands for sustainable farming systems?”. In a consortium of agro-economists and grassland ecologists from ETH Zurich, biodiversity economists from IDiv Leipzig and social –ecological modellers at UFZ 4 PhD students will focus on sustainable grassland management systems in Germany and Switzerland. The deadline for application is December 15th, 2021.

Your tasks:

  • Develop a social-ecological simulation model (in particular agent-based model) that incorporates feedbacks between farmers’ and consumers’ decision, grassland management options, and ecosystem service provision in a dynamic matter
  • Parameterize the model with empirical data obtained in other work packages of the project
  • Contribute to a thorough understanding of how insurance products and policies should be designed to work effectively for farmers’ climate risk management and to promote sustainable grassland management
  • Use the model to explore the potential of social insurances, especially arrangements within community-supported agriculture and payments for ecosystem services.
  • Exchange knowledge with local and European stakeholders relevant in this research context (i.e., farmers, insurance companies, public administration)

Your profile:

  • An excellent master’s degree in a relevant field of research, including system sciences, mathematics, physics, agricultural economics, geography
  • Expertise in modelling and analyzing complex systems (experience in agent-based modelling is beneficial)
  • Proficiency in computer programming (e.g. NetLogo, C++, Java) and advanced statistical methods
  • Deep interest in investigating the impact of climate risk instruments (such as agricultural insurance or community supported agriculture) on farmers’ behavior and ecological state of the grassland system.
  • 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 meet cooperation partners and attend conferences, workshops and courses

Apply here: