Postdoc or Research Assistant: Scientific Software Development for the Sustainable Energy Transition

80%-100%, Zurich, temporary

The energy system modelling team in the Climate Policy group is looking for a postdoc or research assistant (with or without PhD) on modelling renewable energy systems, quantifying and analysing uncertainty, and scientific software development. We are a small but motivated team of scientist-programmers working on the technical, economic and policy barriers in the way of rapidly transitioning to clean and sustainable energy worldwide.

The starting date is flexible between 1st October 2019 and 1st January 2020. The position is initially for two years with the possibility for extension depending on available funding. Salary is according to the ETH Zurich postdoc and research assistant salary scale.

Project background

Your primary role will be to contribute to our efforts in the SENTINEL project funded by the European Commission (H2020).

In the SENTINEL (Sustainable Energy Transitions Laboratory) project we will build a modular framework of free and open models to look in detail at specific technological, geographic, and societal aspects of the transition to a low-carbon energy system. The models will be able to be linked together to answer a wide range of different questions. The models in the framework, together with the data on which they rely, will be accessible via an online platform.

Job description

Your duties will include, but are not limited to:

  • Taking a leading role in conceptualising and developing an online energy modelling platform.
  • Designing and implementing better ways to link different kinds of energy system models together to answer new research questions.
  • Designing and implementing modelling experiments to understand and trace uncertainty in energy system models.
  • Taking the lead on and contributing to scientific publications resulting from the project and other work in the group.
  • Participating in meetings with project partners.
  • The possibility to contribute to other activities in our group, including teaching and student supervision.

We provide opportunities for your career growth in line with your goals, whether they tend towards a scientific or a research software development path.

Two possible profiles are suitable for this position:

  1. Your main experience is research software development in any scientific or engineering field.
  2. Your main experience is energy system modelling or a related discipline and you can demonstrate that you have acquired some software development experience on the side.

A mix of these two profiles also fits the position.

Your profile

Mandatory requirements:

  • Demonstrable experience in (scientific) software development, e.g. with a GitHub (or equivalent) account in good standing. Please ensure your CV or cover letter provides links to any publicly available profiles and projects.
  • Demonstrably strong written and spoken English.

Desirable requirements:

  • Demonstrable experience with Python and the scientific Python stack (Numpy, Pandas, et al).
  • Experience in full-stack or back-end web application development is an additional asset.


  • A PhD in science or engineering (having successfully defended a PhD before the time of starting the position is required to be hired at the postdoc level).
  • Experience in the energy sector is not a requirement.

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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We look forward to receiving your online application with the following documents:

  • CV
  • Cover letter
  • Contact details for two references (if not included on CV)

Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.

Further information about the group can be found on our website.

For questions and further information on the position, please contact Stefan Pfenninger (no applications).

Applications will be reviewed beginning on 6th September 2019 and until the position is filled.

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