PhD Position in RESPONSE (ESR 04): Energy transition and the transport sector – assessing the impact of European and national policies on future drive technology mixes, energy use, and emission pathways

100%, Zurich, temporary
Within the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 847585, ETH Zurich is offering a 36-month PhD position for an early-stage researchers (ESR) in in the area of sustainable energy systems.

Project background

The transport sector, one of the largest energy consumers, plays a crucial role in mitigating climate change. With recent cost reductions for battery electric vehicles, a fundamental transformation of the predominant drive technologies towards low-carbon technologies seems possible. However, there is great uncertainty on the speed and outcome of the transition – a variety of drive technologies still competes for low-carbon road mobility and transport, and also competes with modal shifts towards rail. To address this challenge, the project will develop a novel model for global projections of technology mixes for mobility and transport until 2040. Embedding a probabilistic discrete choice model within a system-dynamic model architecture, the project shall consider feedbacks between technology deployment, cost improvements, and further factors, and contribute to policy advice.

Job description

The ESR will develop a new global technology forecasting model for land-based transport and mobility, in close interaction with other researchers of our group, as well as with policy and industry stakeholders. Planned scientific outcomes include publications in leading academic journals, and potentially a practitioner-oriented policy report. A planned secondment (i.e. internship) of 3 months at SES Schweizer Energiestiftung (a Zurich-based think tank) is part of this project. During this secondment, the ESR will have the opportunity to discuss her/his preliminary findings with industry and policy stakeholders.

We offer an entrepreneurial research atmosphere within a dynamic team at continental Europe’s leading research university. As a member of ETH’s Energy Science Center, our group benefits from frequent interactions with leading scholars in other energy- and policy-related fields. We also contribute to ETH’s Institute of Science, Technology, and Policy (ISTP). Furthermore we collaborate with other national and international academic and policy institutions (e.g., Stanford, MIT, Yale, UNDP, World Bank). The starting date is negotiable. Your PhD will be conducted in CIS’s doctoral program and is expected to be completed within 3 years. While working in an international, interdisciplinary and innovative research environment at ETH Zurich, the ESR will be jointly co-supervised by Prof. Tobias Schmidt (ETH Zurich), Dr. Bjarne Steffen (ETH Zurich), and Nils Epprecht (SES Schweizer Energiestiftung).

The successful candidate will be matriculated and will have a working contract at ETH Zurich. He/she will work in Switzerland. The secondment will take place in Zurich, Switzerland.

The complete 36 months will be under 100% working contracts.

Expected starting date of the working contract: 01.05.2020 or earlier

This program offers a three-year full-time position according to the PhD salary regulations of ETH Zurich and according to EU regulations for Marie Skłodowska-Curie Early Stage Researchers. The gross salary will not be lower than CHF 3920.

RESPONSE Doctoral Programme (DP) «RESPONSE - to society and policy needs through plant, food and energy sciences» is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No 847585. RESPONSE DP builds on the academic expertise of three world-leading institutions - ETH Zurich, University of Zurich and University of Basel. The successful candidate will be integrated in the research network and infrastructure of the internationally renowned competence center Energy Science Center.

All RESPONSE ESRs will follow the PSC PhD Program Science and Policy that is unique in its kind. Through the curriculum of this program, ESR will be trained in the communication of scientific evidence to policy-makers and the public; the involvement of different stakeholder groups as well as in policy development and endorsement in Europe and at global scale.

Your profile

RESPONSE is open to applicants of any nationality.

We are looking for applicants that have some experience in quantitative modelling and hold a Master in public policy, economics, engineering, computer science, or a related field; candidates currently completing their Master’s thesis can also apply. You have a strong motivation for academic research. Your working style is team-oriented and you have strong communication skills. A characteristic of our group is the broad range in backgrounds (from engineering via economics to political science), so we are looking for candidates that appreciate such environments.

Language requirement: Proficient oral and written English, further language skills (e.g. German, French) are an additional asset.

Main Research Field: Climate and energy policy

Sub Research Field: Innovation studies

Eligibility: Early stage researcher in the first 4 years (full-time equivalent) of their research careers, including the period of research training, starting at the date of obtaining the degree which would formally entitle them to embark on a doctorate either in the country in which the degree was obtained or in the country in which the initial training activities are provided.

At the time of recruitment (for call 1 = December 1, 2019) by the host organisation, researchers must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Switzerland for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the reference date. Compulsory national service and/or short stays such as holidays are not taken into account.

ETH Zurich

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.
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For submitting your online application, select PhD program Science and Policy). The online application should contain all information as indicated by the application portal. Moreover, the following documents have to be uploaded under “further documents”: 1) a letter of motivation to join a) RESPONSE DP and b) to apply for a specific positon (Project title), 2) a comprehensive CV, and 3) transcripts of records. Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.

For project, programme and application details visit For questions and further information on the position, please contact Prof. Tobias Schmidt at (no applications).

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