Postdoc position on “Creating new socio-ecological incentive systems to support sustainable action, recycling and sharing, using Internet of Things technologies and multiple incentive systems”

100%, Zurich, fixed-term

Research at the Professorship of Computational Social Science (COSS) is focused on:

  • bringing modeling and computer simulation of social processes and transportation phenomena together with technology, experimental, and data-driven work,
  • combining the perspectives of different scientific disciplines (e.g. social science, computer science, complexity science and sociophysics),
  • bridging fundamental and applied work,
  • developing digital tools to support people and studying the resulting behavior.

Information about the COSS team can be found on our website. For information about the ERC Project on Co-Evolving City Life on the website or on blogspot

Job description

  • You would create novel research breakthroughs and contribute to the ambitious ERC Advanced Investigator Grant on “Co-Evolving City Life” (CoCi) in subject areas connected to smart cities and digital societies.
  • Your specific research focus will be on “Sustainable Cities and Coordination”. Given recent digital technologies such as the Internet of Things (sensor and communication networks), Artificial Intelligence, and Blockchain/ Distributed Ledger Technology, production and logistics are becoming increasingly smart.
  • You will study how the convergence of these technologies can be used to fuel new approaches towards more sustainable production and logistics in an urban context, particularly consumption and waste disposal. For example, Blockchain technology allows for the creation of new token-based incentive systems in areas that suffer from externality effects, including the implementation of “smart waste”.
  • The research question we would like to answer is, how the approach of self-organized and learning networked agents can be used to create social incentives and economic forces that would promote the emergence of closed loops in a material supply network and could thereby boost the formation of a circular and sharing economy. We want to study, how a multi-dimensional real-time measurement, feedback and coordination system would have to be designed and operated in order to reach this goal. Creating new incentive systems that encourage sustainable action and discourage unsustainable actions are, in fact, a new application domain of community-managed local and crypto-currencies.
  • Together with our team, you will work on the mechanisms and effects of multi-dimensional, real-time coordination by means of a “socio-ecological finance system” (“finance system 4.0”), elaborate the theoretical concept, then investigate it by means of agent-based simulations and experiments, and finally apply it in an urban demonstration project.
  • You will produce a simulation program demonstrating self-organizing logistic networks that become more circular and sustainable over time.
  • Furthermore, we want to couple the simulation program with a sensor-based environment (Raspberry Pi or Arduino, or other) that responds to measurements, flexibly adapts, and self-organizes.

Your profile

  • You should have an excellent research background in computational social science, complexity science, computer science, data science, socio-physics and/or transportation science in one of the areas mentioned above. 
  • Excellent scientific and computational skills, English language skills, social skills, and international experience are required.

We expect you to appreciate collaborating in a diverse, interdisciplinary and multicultural team to jointly and systematically address grand scientific challenges.

Please also indicate, if you are also skilled and willing to develop a software platform (or a smartphone app) of reasonable complexity, or even able to develop parallel code for parallel processing on supercomputers, and what software environments you are using for this.

Your workplace

We offer

ETH Zurich is a family-friendly employer with excellent working conditions. You can look forward to an exciting working environment, cultural diversity and attractive offers and benefits.

Working, teaching and research at ETH Zurich

We value diversity

In line with our values, ETH Zurich encourages an inclusive culture. We promote equality of opportunity, value diversity and nurture a working and learning environment in which the rights and dignity of all our staff and students are respected. Visit our Equal Opportunities and Diversity website to find out how we ensure a fair and open environment that allows everyone to grow and flourish.

Curious? So are we.

We look forward to receiving your online until the 30th of September 2022 application in a single PDF file with the following documents:

  • Short motivational letter
  • CV
  • Detailed exam documents (A-levels, bachelor, master and PhD diploma)
  • Publication list
  • 2 to 3 letters of recommendation

Job interviews are expected to take place mainly in October 2022. The possible contract would start around December 2022 or later.

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

Questions about the position should be directed to our office manager, email: (no application documents).

About ETH Zürich

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.