Postdoctoral Researcher – Semantic Urban Elements (C3261)

100%, Singapore, fixed-term

The centre currently runs several research programmes with the Future Cities Laboratory (FCL) as one of the programmes. It is home to a community of over 100 PhD, postdoctoral and Professorial researchers working on diverse themes related to sustainable cities and resilient infrastructure systems. In the course of their work, researchers actively collaborate with universities, research institutes, industry, and government agencies with the aim of offering practical solutions.

Project background

The Semantic Urban Elements module of FCL Global explores how geo-data science, Semantic Web Technologies (SWT) applied to urban design and Computational Social Science approaches can be harnessed to achieve sustainable, resilient, and liveable cities.

A Semantic Urban Element represents parts of the urban world as entities and relations. This leads to intelligible, scalable domain models instead of complex physical data models. Semantic Urban Elements are thus specific urban design domain ontologies that can help address challenges of urbanisation.

This module has three interdependent and transdisciplinary work packages:

  • WP1: Integrated Urban Data Analysis builds on advances in geospatial technologies, in particular – data integration and geographic data science, and it incorporates AI techniques and novel streams of urban data.
  • WP2: Urban Design Ontologies builds on SWT allowing to link data across multiple knowledge domains and thus overcome major challenges in digitalisation of urban analysis and design such as data-interoperability, data search and knowledge inference, as well as scalability.
  • WP3: Smart Elements and Adaptable Infrastructures draws from the Computational Social Sciences to offer flexible uses of urban infrastructures freeing them from pre-described, static, mono-functional uses.

Investigators: Prof. Filip Biljecki (NUS), Prof. Dirk Helbing (ETH), Dr Pieter Herthogs (SEC), Prof. Christoph Hoelscher (ETH), Dr Rohit K. Dubey (ETH)

Job description

As a postdoctoral researcher, you will be developing the research deliverables of work package 2, and supporting the overall research aims and deliverables of the module in collaboration with researchers and investigators of other work packages. You will do this under the guidance of Dr Pieter Herthogs (Singapore-ETH Centre).

Your key responsibilities will be:

1. Developing the research of work package 2. This work includes, a.o.:

  • Developing and publishing journal articles as lead-author and co-author.
  • Developing and delivering urban design ontologies.
  • Integrating your work into ongoing Semantic Web Technology efforts at FCL (i.e. the Cities Knowledge Graph project).
  • Presenting your research to international audiences and visitors.

2. Supporting the module research efforts in general. This includes, a.o.:

  • Participating in and contributing to team meetings.
  • Supporting other module researchers, and the module coordinator.
  • Contributing to academic papers.
  • Presenting the module internally and externally, and preparing material for such presentations.

Your profile

Mandatory Requirements:

You have:

  • A PhD degree in urban design or planning, architectural engineering, computer or information science, ontology, or other related or relevant fields.
  • Demonstrable experience developing and publishing research related to computational urban design or applied ontology - demonstrated through CV and publications.

You are:

  • A self-motivated and independent researcher.
  • A good communicator:
    • Proactive: you can signal issues, set and commit to targets
    • Rational: you can clearly articulate ideas and thoughts
    • Interpersonal: you are able to take and provide constructive feedback
    • A professional working proficiency in English is required.
  • A team player: collaborative and constructive, and always open to helping team members
  • Interested in topics related to the research project.
  • Curious and passionate to explore new concepts, methods and technologies. You have the capability to identify and quickly learn the most suitable tools for research on the go.
  • Able to do basic programming tasks and adopt new programming languages for particular purposes. Able to collaborate with a small software development team.

Significantly Beneficial Attributes:

  • Experience with Semantic Web technologies and related concepts (RDF, OWL, SPARQL, graph data stores, applied ontology …).
  • Detail-oriented and meticulous in your work.
  • A strong interest in developing diagrams, frameworks, taxonomies, categorisations, and other ontology-adjacent research activities.

Desirable Attributes:

  • The ability to present your work and progress in an engaging and effective way.

Your workplace

Your workplace




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 application with a dossier containing the following PDF documents:

  • A short cover letter explaining your interest in the project and position
  • Your CV, preferably tailored to this position
  • Contact details of at least 2 referees.
  • Two samples of your academic writing (e.g. article, thesis)
  • One example of a slide deck (presentation) that you developed
  • [optional] A document (portfolio, presentation, or similar) that showcases your past work. While we encourage and consult digital and web-based portfolios, a summary or overview in pdf form is still recommended.

You will be notified if selected for an interview. Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.

For further information, please contact Dr Pieter Herthogs (Singapore-ETH Centre) via herthogs[@]arch.ethz.ch . 

Singapore-ETH Centre

The Singapore-ETH Centre provides a multicultural and interdisciplinary environment to researchers working on diverse themes focussed on sustainable and liveable cities, resilient urban systems, and patient-centric healthcare. The centre is home to a community of over 100 doctoral, postdoctoral and professorial researchers working in three main programmes: Future Cities Laboratory, Future Resilient Systems, and Future Health Technologies.

Curious? So are we.

We look forward to receiving your online application with a dossier containing the following PDF documents:

  • A short cover letter explaining your interest in the project and position
  • Your CV, preferably tailored to this position
  • Contact details of at least 2 referees.
  • Two samples of your academic writing (e.g. article, thesis)
  • One example of a slide deck (presentation) that you developed
  • [optional] A document (portfolio, presentation, or similar) that showcases your past work. While we encourage and consult digital and web-based portfolios, a summary or overview in pdf form is still recommended.

You will be notified if selected for an interview. Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.

For further information, please contact Dr Pieter Herthogs (Singapore-ETH Centre) via herthogs[@]arch.ethz.ch . 

Singapore-ETH Centre

The Singapore-ETH Centre provides a multicultural and interdisciplinary environment to researchers working on diverse themes focussed on sustainable and liveable cities, resilient urban systems, and patient-centric healthcare. The centre is home to a community of over 100 doctoral, postdoctoral and professorial researchers working in three main programmes: Future Cities Laboratory, Future Resilient Systems, and Future Health Technologies.