Researcher in Building Blocks for Integrated Assessment Modelling (1.0 FTE)

Researcher in Building Blocks for Integrated Assessment Modelling (1.0 FTE)

Published Deadline Location
8 Mar 5 Apr Utrecht

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Are you of the opinion that Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) should be free and open source software? Then this may be the job for you!

Job description

Are you of the opinion that Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) should be free and open source software? Do you program in Python? And do you have an interest in land use change modelling? Then this may be the job for you!

IMAGE (a IAM) is a framework of models used to make projections of future environmental change and effects of possible response strategies to support international policy processes, for example for the IPCC. The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) in collaboration with Utrecht University continuously develops the IMAGE model and now wants to make it Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable (FAIR). The Faculty of Geosciences of Utrecht University (UU) and PBL together have a pilot project on IMAGE-land, a central component of IMAGE. IMAGE-land simulates land-use changes, spatially-explicit with a global extent, driven by demographics, economics and policies. Specifically, it computes the expansion or contraction of agricultural land use, such as rainfed and irrigated cropland, grassland, and land use for bio-energy production, at a resolution of 5 arc-minutes. The resulting land-use projections are applied to determine greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation, impacts on biodiversity, changes in water availability and the effects on nutrient cycles.

In the pilot project, the global, spatially explicit land-use module of IMAGE will be redeveloped as free and open source software, programmed in Python. To help us with that, we are looking for a research assistant for 7 months fulltime, or for a longer period (max 1 year) part-time.

Project background: 

The pilot project “Building Blocks for Integrated Assessment Modelling” is funded by the FAIR research IT program of Utrecht University. It aims to create a free and open source software (FOSS) Python version of the simulation model IMAGE-land, by means of building blocks at three levels:
  1. High-level – the FOSS Python version of IMAGE-land, a tutorial with example, and a best-practices training for UU and PBL employees.
  2. Mid-level – within the FOSS: generic land-use change classes in Python.
  3. Low-level – generic spatial operations from PCRaster-LUE, allowing for out-of-the-box cluster computing, to be used and extended. 


Utrecht University


We are looking for someone with:
  • A BSc degree in Informatics, Data Science, Environmental Science, or a related discipline;
  • An MSc degree or current enrollment in an MSc program in Informatics, Data Science, Environmental Science, or a related discipline;
  • Programming experience in Python, and ideally also in PCRaster;
  • Strong communication skills;
  • Interest in integrated assessment modelling and land use change modelling; and
  • The ability to work independently as part of a research team.

Conditions of employment

We offer a temporary position (1.0 FTE) for seven months in an international working environment. A part-time contract with a minimum of 0.5 FTE is also possible, but then the contract will take a little longer. The gross salary - depending on previous qualifications and experience  - ranges between €2,960 and €4,670 (scale 10 according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities) per month for full-time employment.

Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3% per year. In addition, Utrecht University offers excellent secondary conditions, including an attractive retirement scheme, (partly paid) parental leave and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model). For more information, please visit working at Utrecht University.


A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.

Utrecht University's Faculty of Geosciences studies the Earth: from the Earth's core to its surface, including man's spatial and material utilisation of the Earth - always with a focus on sustainability and innovation. With 3,400 students (BSc and MSc) and 720 staff, the faculty is a strong and challenging organisation. The Faculty of Geosciences is organised in four Departments: Earth Sciences, Human Geography & Spatial Planning, Physical Geography, and Sustainable Development.


  • Research, development, innovation
  • Natural sciences
  • 36—40 hours per week
  • €2960—€4670 per month
  • Higher professional education +
  • 1206881



Princetonlaan 8a, 3584 CB, Utrecht

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