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Research Assistant/Associate in Water Security Solutions

Requisition ID:  5295

Newcastle, GB

Contract Type:  Fixed Term
Working Pattern:  Full Time
Posted Date: 


We are a world class research-intensive university. We deliver teaching and learning of the highest quality. We play a leading role in economic, social and cultural development of the North East of England. Attracting and retaining high-calibre people is fundamental to our continued success.


Salary: Research Assistant: £28,331 - £30,046 per annum

            Research Associate: £30,942 - £32,817 per annum


Closing Date: 5 November 2020


The Role


We are seeking a dynamic Research Assistant/Associate to develop and demonstrate new methods to reduce the time required, and expense of, designing strategies or approaches to improve a range of water security challenges.  This will involve developing computer-based tools that support and facilitate the rapid identification, design and costing of appropriate interventions that meet the social, economic and technical requirements of sustainable development. You will have experience of modelling, analysis, and interdisciplinary research in the water sector. 


You will join the UKRI GCRF Water Security and Sustainable Development Hub – a flagship UK funded research programme that is developing a systems approach to address the challenge of global water security and contribute to global efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6. You will develop and demonstrate a novel approach to accelerate the design and costing of strategies to develop plausible plans to improve water security.  In line with the Water Security Hub’s systems approach this work will consider options across all aspects of water security, including water resources, water quality and treatment, flood management, land and catchment management, and sanitation.  Part of this work involves development of a cost model for water security interventions.  This will use a combination of empirical data, gathered from the literature and through stakeholder engagement, and quantity surveying approaches. Further work will develop computational methods to help identify possible designs that meet the necessary social, economic and technical requirements to achieve water security.  These could include methods for automated network generation, machine learning, spatial optimisation, and engineering heuristics. 


You will have experience of developing tools for computational analysis and interdisciplinary research in the water sector.  The post is based in the School of Engineering working with the team in both the Water and Environmental Engineering Groups but will work collaboratively with researchers from many other disciplinary backgrounds from Newcastle University and with the team in the Hub’s other locations.  You will join Newcastle University’s internationally leading water group in the School of Engineering, but benefit from exciting collaboration opportunities with Water Security Hub partners in the UK, Colombia, Ethiopia, India, and Malaysia.


The post is available on a fixed term basis for two years in the first instance.


For informal enquiries please contact Professor Tom Curtis (tom.curtis@newcastle.ac.uk) or Professor Richard Dawson (richard.dawson@newcastle.ac.uk)






Key Accountabilities


  • Identify and critically analyse different types of interventions or solutions (technical, social, policy-related) for a range of water security issues and challenges based upon a systems approach
  • Review different tools or systems for costing interventions
  • In collaboration with the wider team, develop a method for costing interventions and work alongside in-country teams to explore different interventions with other stakeholders as a mechanism to aid basin management and decision making
  • Identify the stages in the design and costing process that are the greatest barrier, and develop a tool to speed it up.  This might involve use of automated network generation to rapidly design infrastructure; or spatial optimisation or machine learning to identify ‘best’ sites for interventions
  • Conduct a case study to demonstrate the approach developed drawing upon data, computer modelling, knowledge and research findings from across the Hub’s wider research programme to identify and evaluate intervention options for a water security challenge e.g. drainage, pollution, sanitation, supply etc.
  • Report the findings in an accessible form e.g. a guide for water security interventions, making information suitable for a range of social, economic, political and cultural contexts
  • To present information on research progress and outcomes at project meetings
  • To write up results from your own research activity and provide input into the research project’s dissemination, in a variety of forms (reports, journal articles, chapters, book)
  • To comply with University policies, including financial regulations, equal opportunities policy, Health & Safety policy, promoting race equality policy, information systems security policy, data security, intellectual property rights and safeguarding policies
  • To engage in personal, professional and career development, to enhance both specialist and transferable skills in accordance with desired career trajectory
  • To carry out other duties, commensurate with the grade of the post, as requested by the project

The Person (Essential)


Knowledge, Skills and Experience

  • Knowledge of an area or areas of the water system demonstrating analytical skills
  • Ability to develop and implement computational analysis to solve engineering problems
  • Experience of work in water security in an international and interdisciplinary context


  • Experience of collaborative or consortium working with academic and stakeholder partners
  • A developing track record of peer reviewed publications in internationally recognised journals and experience of presentation of work to the national/international research community
  • Knowledge of innovative ways of presenting research outputs


Attributes and Behaviour

  • Excellent communication skills, both written and verbal; ability and willingness to communicate your research at national and international conferences, to fellow academics in other disciplines and to stakeholders
  • Excellent interpersonal skills to build trust with collaborating groups
  • The ability to work well both independently and as part of a team
  • Good planning, organisational and time management skills
  • Willingness to travel, potentially for extended periods, including to Hub partner destinations (Colombia, Ethiopia, India, Malaysia)



  • A good Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in a relevant subject e.g. Engineering, Geography, Planning, Economics
  • PhD (Associate level) (or close to completion, or equivalent experience Assistant level) focussed in water security management or a related areas


Newcastle University is committed to being a fully inclusive Global University which actively recruits, supports and retains staff from all sectors of society.  We value diversity as well as celebrate, support and thrive on the contributions of all our employees and the communities they represent.  We are proud to be an equal opportunities employer and encourage applications from everybody, regardless of race, sex, ethnicity, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, age, disability, gender identity, marital status/civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, as well as being open to flexible working practices.


The University holds a silver Athena SWAN award in recognition of our good employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.  The University also holds the HR Excellence in Research award for our work to support the career development of our researchers, and is a member of the Euraxess initiative supporting researchers in Europe.


Please be advised that due to the minimum salary thresholds imposed by the UKVI, this post may not qualify for University sponsorship under Tier 2 of the points based system.


Requisition ID: 5295