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Research Assistant/Associate

Requisition ID:  5296

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 novel approaches to quantitatively model and map risks by analysing pathways between water pollution sources and sensitive human and ecological receptors at a catchment scale. 


You will have an understanding of water pollutants, experience of handling water quality data and developing tools for water quality risk 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 novel approaches to quantitatively model and map exposure pathways between pollution sources and sensitive receptors at a catchment scale paying due attention to the natural spatiotemporal variability and human activities which affect water quality. This work will support decision-making on appropriate risk management strategies for water security in developing countries with consideration of climate change, and economic and social development. In line with the Water Security Hub’s systems approach this work will consider an appropriate risk assessment framework to protect water quality which can be integrated with optioneering and decision-making tools developed by other Water Security Hub researchers, using a systems approach for water security interventions.  Part of this work involves identification through screening of the most significant hazards at a catchment-scale for which poor quality water is a major exposure pathway between the pollution sources and sensitive human or ecological receptors. This will be informed by water quality data gathered from the literature and stakeholders, and other Water Security Hub researchers, and a field survey of pollution sources, human activities and ecosystems/land use patterns in case study catchments. 


Further work will develop computational methods to quantitatively predict risks from poor water quality to the most sensitive receptors across the spectrum of priority hazards identified in the fieldwork. The simulated risks will be visualized with a spatiotemporal mapping tool, and scenario analysis will identify risk mitigation solutions that meet the social, economic and technical requirements to achieve water security in a sustainable way. You will help integrate water quality and environmental and human health research in each basin, and working closely with the water quality, geospatial data and health impacts teams.


You will have experience of developing tools for risk 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 environmental engineering 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 David Werner (david.werner@newcastle.ac.uk) or Dr. Claire Walsh (claire.walsh@newcastle.ac.uk)






Key Accountabilities


  • Through desk study and field surveys identify and critically analyse different types of hazards to environmental and human health from poor chemical and/or microbiological water quality, and their sources and exposure pathways in case study catchments
  • In collaboration with the wider team, collect information on context-appropriate environmental and human health criteria for the identified significant hazards
  • Review different tools or systems for risk assessment, visualization and communication
  • In collaboration with the wider team, develop a method for the spatiotemporal modelling and mapping of risks, 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 points and times of greatest risks within a catchment, and in collaboration with the wider team use scenario analysis to identify current and future vulnerabilities and effective risk mitigation strategies
  • Conduct a case study to demonstrate the approach developed in depth for at least one catchment, drawing upon data, computer modelling, knowledge and research findings from across the Hub’s wider research programme to identify solutions which effectively mitigate risks for both chemical and microbial waterborne hazards
  • 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, such as analytical chemistry or environmental microbiology
  • Numeracy and ability to develop and implement computational analysis to solve risk assessment 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, Agriculture, Chemistry, Biology, Environmental Sciences
  • PhD (Associate level) (or close to completion, or equivalent experience for Assistant level) focussed in water security management, analytical methods, or 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: 5296