Postdoctoral position on societal dynamics in the energy-materials-humans nexus

Materials science and technology are our passion. With our cutting-edge research, Empa's around 1,100 employees make essential contributions to the well-being of society for a future worth living. Empa is a research institution of the ETH Domain.
The Laboratory for Computational Engineering focuses on developing technologies that support energy transition and a sustainable society by devising novel approaches and algorithms to help research in strategic areas (porous materials science, carbon negative technologies, and renewable energy integration), employing numerical simulations to understand complex systems and processes, and solving practically relevant problems to support a sustainable and healthy society. The laboratory has an extensive experience in investigating coupled multiphysics phenomena and complex multiscale processes, as well as in developing and using innovative scientific computing techniques (including HPC, machine learning, multiscale algorithms). It also has excellent experimental infrastructures (including cutting-edge experimental fluid dynamics facilities, and various equipment to investigate processes in porous materials) that used to advance electro-optical methods and to devise machine learning methods for data analysis and control.

Your tasks

The postdoctoral researcher will work in a multidisciplinary team aiming at a holistic approach to model the technological landscape of a carbon-negative society, hence, approaching energy systems, materials fluxes, and social aspects from a systemic perspective which transcends the traditional silos. The postdoc will tightly collaborate with two other postdoctoral researchers, and will focus on (i) developing mathematical models (e.g., compartment models, network models, etc.) to explore the dynamics dominating opinion spreading and technology adoption across the society; (ii) describing the role of spatiotemporal heterogeneity on energy and material fluxes; (iii) coupling and integrating the individual system models (materials, energy, humans). The project will provide the bases to integrate and optimize carbon-negative technologies into planetary-scale systems.

Your profile

The applicants must hold a recent PhD degree, preferably in physics, system engineering, computer science, mathematics, or related disciplines. A strong background in computational science and good intuition for physical systems are mandatory. The ideal candidate has demonstrated proficiency and hands-on experience with network and compartment models, as well as an excellent record of accomplishments and publications (for the corresponding career stage). Experience with societal modeling and dynamics is an asset. The candidate is a curious, passionate, and proactive individual that can autonomously advance the project, engaging in discussion with the other members of the research team.

Our offer

We offer internationally competitive conditions, optimal computational and experimental facilities, and the opportunity to work in a multidisciplinary environment where communication and interaction to create synergies and develop novel ideas are highly valued. The position is available for two years from August 2024, or at a slightly later date upon mutual agreement.
We live a culture of inclusion and respect. We welcome all people who are interested in innovative, sustainable and meaningful activities - that's what counts.
We are looking forward to receiving your application comprising a letter of motivation, a brief statement of your research interest(please provide it in the same PDF as the motivation letter), your curriculum vitae, a complete list of publications, and two or more references with contact details.
Patricia Nitzsche, Stv. Leiterin Human Resources / Dep. Head Human Resources


  Dr Ivan Lunati
Head of Laboratory
Computational Engineering

Your future place of work

Ueberlandstrasse 129
8600 Dübendorf

Empa as an employer

Innovative, sustainable, meaningful activities
Creating added value for society
International, multicultural working environment
Freedom to create and develop
Culture of inclusion and respect
Excellent balance between different areas of life
Multiple award-winning and certified employer
Benefits for rail, mobile, childcare, catering, etc.