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Deadline: 6 January 2023

Researcher in vegetation modeling

The Biodiversity, Ecology, and Conservation (BEC) Research Group, within the BNR Program is offering an opportunity for a research position in vegetation modeling.


The BEC Research Group develops and applies state-of-the art ecological knowledge, methods, and tools to understand feedback between ecosystem functioning and coupled socio-ecological systems. The group aims to apply this knowledge and tools to investigate appropriate management options to achieve sustainability goals that have ecological implications and conservation relevance. One key activity of the BEC group is investigating the impact of anthropogenic land-uses on biodiversity through advanced modeling techniques. On this topic, the BEC group is leading the Resilience of Ecosystem Services provided by Intact and Sustainably managed Terrestrial ecosystems (RESIST) project, which the incumbent will be involved in. RESIST will apply a multidisciplinary modeling framework that concomitantly accounts for biophysical feedback between natural ecological processes and socio-economic aspects driving stakeholder decision-making. Based on this integrated modeling framework we will investigate the following research questions: (1) What is the role of plant functional diversity and adaptive capacity for ecosystem resilience to projected climate change? (2) How will natural and managed ecosystems across a drought gradient respond to future changes in climate? (3) What is the effect of biodiversity-ecosystem functioning feedbacks on regional precipitation patterns and water availability for natural habitats and agricultural production systems? (4) How do local stakeholders value ecosystem services and perceive environmental change and biodiversity loss? (5) What are the safe operating spaces for the sustainable management of natural habitats and intensified human land-use systems under projected future climate change conditions?

The role

We are looking for a highly motivated and enthusiastic ecological modeler who is interested in applying statistical data analysis and process-based mathematical modeling skills in a vegetation modeling context. The incumbent will work within the BNR Program and the BEC Research Group, in close collaboration with Dr. Florian Hofhansl and Dr. Jaideep Joshi to contribute to further developing and applying a recently developed eco-evolutionary vegetation model (Plant-FATE). Plant-FATE accounts for plant life history strategies for drought resilience by integrating optimality-based physiological models of photosynthesis, leaf economics and allocation, and will be used to simulate the adaptation of species to their environment based on eco-evolutionary optimality theory. The position holder should be comfortable working in a multidisciplinary environment and be enthusiastic about interacting with researchers from other domains such as economics, forestry, and agronomy to explore how linkages between biodiversity and these sectors can be developed.

tasks and responsibilities

  • Developing workflows and programming code for modeling functional diversity and associated ecosystem services under global change scenarios, in particular to changes in climate and forest management.
  • Leading the dissemination of project results via high-quality journal publications and conference presentations.
  • Contribute to the organization of project-related workshops and/or webinars.
  • Support all project partners and group members in the drafting of reports, grant proposals and other scientific outputs as need arises.
  • In line with the team spirit that prevails at IIASA, the incumbent may occasionally work on other tasks assigned by their superiors, that might not be directly related to this appointment but where the post holder has relevant experience and skills, and/or a shortage of immediate personnel capabilities requires such.

qualifications and experience

  • Min. master's degree (or equivalent) in a discipline with expertise in numerical simulation modeling and statistical or machine learning analysis.
  • Fluency in C++, including advanced concepts like templates and polymorphism. Fluency in at least one additional scientific programming language (R, Python) is desirable. Previous experience in developing scientific software for ecological research (e.g., Python libraries, R Packages) highly desirable.
  • Experience in parallel computing (particularly GPU computing with CUDA), collaborative coding and version control (e.g., Git) advantageous.
  • Advanced geo-spatial analyses in R. Knowledge of Google Earth engine advantageous.
  • Good understanding of current applied ecology and conservation research are desirable (not essential).
  • Excellent organizational skills, pro-active and results-oriented and the capacity to deliver on allocated tasks and respond in a timely manner to deadlines.
  • Ability to work independently as well as within an international and multidisciplinary team distributed across different institutions and time-zones.
  • A track record of publishing high-quality scientific research.
  • Excellent communication skills (both written and oral) in English.
  • IIASA offers an interdisciplinary and international workplace, and the possibility to interact with researchers of different nationalities, with strong ties to a world-wide network of research institutions engaged in environmental systems research. The successful candidate must be able to work in, and have respect for, an intercultural environment, and IIASA core values.

appointment terms

We offer an initial fixed-term, full-time (40 hours per week) employment contract for one year, with the possibility of extension thereafter. Eligible applicants wishing to work part-time hours will also be considered. The start date is negotiable.

Duties will be carried out at the IIASA premises in Laxenburg, near Vienna in Austria (up to 100 days per year home office working within Austria possible).

The successful candidate will be hired as a  Researcher (R1) or Research Scholar (R2) in accordance with their corresponding profile in the IIASA profiles for research careers. 


A gross annual, full-time salary of:

Minimum EUR 33,924.00 for R1 researchers

Minimum EUR 44,204.00 for R2 research scholars.

IIASA salaries are:

  • Exempt from income tax in Austria.
  • Negotiable, based on the qualifications, skills and experience of the selected individual.
  • Subject to deductions for health insurance and/or social security.
  • Not directly comparable with other employers in Austria, due to the unique legal status and privileges granted to IIASA.
  • Subject to the principle of income aggregation (Progressionsvorbehalt in German).

In addition:

  • Educational subsidies for children of school age enrolled in private schools in Austria.
  • A generous annual leave allowance.
  • Moving and settlement allowances and paid home leave for employees in scientific and professional categories hired from international locations.
  • Assistance for newcomers to Austria with visa, work and residency permit applications.
  • Support finding accommodation in Austria.

Further details here.  


IIASA is committed to a working environment that promotes equality, diversity, tolerance and inclusion within its workforce. This is reflected in our  IIASA core values. We encourage qualified candidates from all religious, ethnic, and social backgrounds to apply. In the case that candidates are equally qualified, preference will be given to applicants from countries where IIASA has a  Member Organization.

Further Information

For further information about this opportunity please contact:

Dr. Florian Hofhansl, Research Scholar, BEC Research Group


For general questions about working at IIASA, please contact: