Postdoctoral Researcher & Module Coordinator – Semantic Urban Elements

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 and module coordinator, you will be developing the research deliverables of work package 1, in charge of module coordination tasks to support the Singapore and Zurich teams, 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 Prof. Filip Biljecki (National University of Singapore).

Your key responsibilities will be:

1. Developing the research of work package 1. 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. Acting as the module coordinator. This includes, a.o.:

  • Being the general point of contact for the module (Singapore and Zurich hubs).
  • Participating in the weekly coordinators meeting. Coordinating and exchanging information between the overall FCL Global programme, the module Investigators, and the module researchers.
  • In collaboration with the Investigators, aligning different research streams to the project aims, deliverables, and timeline.
  • Organising module research meetings.
  • Preparing reports and other documentation.
  • Line managing SEC-based module researchers.

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

  • Participating in and contributing to team meetings.
  • Supporting other module researchers.
  • 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 computer or information science, urban design or planning, architectural engineering, ontology, or a related field.
  • Demonstrable experience developing and publishing urban data analysis research - demonstrated through CV, publications, and impact (e.g. citations, and/or having output adopted by others such as a developed open-source package).

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 help team members and co-supervise junior researchers.
  • 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 the 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 one or more of the following areas: geospatial data, computer science, game engines, Geomatics, 3D city modelling, computer vision / AI / ML, urban planning, and/or urban simulations.
  • Detail-oriented and meticulous in your work.
  • The ability to present your work and progress in an engaging and effective way.

Desirable Attributes:

  • Experience with Semantic Web technologies and related concepts (RDF, OWL, SPARQL, graph data stores, applied ontology …).

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
  • 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] Link to a Github repository as evidence of programming skills.
  • [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 Prof. Filip Biljecki (National University of Singapore)

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
  • 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] Link to a Github repository as evidence of programming skills.
  • [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 Prof. Filip Biljecki (National University of Singapore)

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.