Deadline: 31/01/2023 

Job position: Postdoctoral Researcher

We are looking for a postdoctoral researcher to lead a participatory modelling study that analyses the vulnerability of Spanish rural communities to the compounded effects of climate change, depopulation and agricultural trade, and explores the feasibility and effectiveness of vulnerability mitigation policies. The models will address the pathways through which, e.g., the migration of younger generations to urban areas affects the abandonment of agricultural, husbandry and forestry activities, land-use concentration and intensification, biodiversity loss and/or the sensitiveness of rural landscapes to rainfall variability and droughts.

The postdoc will start as soon as possible and work within the SUSTAIN project, hosted at the Environmental Science and Technology Institute (ICTA, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona) and funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation.

The SUSTAIN project

Rural areas in Spain are experiencing unprecedented environmental and social changes. Climate change and biodiversity loss are occurring alongside depopulation and the abandonment and intensification of rural landscapes. Understanding inter-connections of environmental and social stressors, and their impact on rural development is paramount to devise policy that can enhance the wellbeing of rural populations whilst promoting sustainable land uses.

At the same time, Spain is confronted with a sustainability transition paradox. On the one hand, many rural regions are highly vulnerable to interacting socio-demographic and environmental problems. On the other hand, such vulnerability makes of those regions a unique experimentation niche for new, alternative forms of sustainable development.

SUSTAIN aims to better understand how specific socio-economic and environmental stressors, i.e., depopulation, climate change and agricultural trade, affect the emergence of sustainability transitions. Specifically, SUSTAIN aims to develop new tools for innovative rural development planning and evaluation, and emphasise the positionality of women, the elder and immigrants. The European LEADER program and its current stalemate will be used as a platform to plan and promote bottom-up, innovative and socially inclusive rural development projects.


– Primary

  • Lead a team effort to design and implement 4 participatory modelling workshops.
  • Formalize model/s emerging from the participatory workshops.

– Secondary

  • Elaborate a policy brief that will be disseminated among stakeholders and regional and national policy makers.
  • Lead a scientific article on the results from the study.
  • Co-supervision of 1-2 Master’s students.


Minimum required skills

  • A PhD in Environmental Science, Geography, Political Science, Economics, Sociology or similar.
  • Accredited experience with participatory modelling in any of its versions (from co-design to stakeholder-validation or showcasing/use).
  • Accredited experience with socio-environmental research (natural resource management, rural development, agricultural, agrarian or livelihood studies, and similar).

Desirable skills

  • Experience in modelling socio-ecological systems.
  • Experience with GIS.
  • Experience with database management, i.e., programming language and statistics (phyton, R, or others).

Conditions of employment

  • Dedication: 100% for 2 years; 37,5 working hours/week.
  • Salary: 32,000 gross/year (negotiable depending on responsibilities assumed).
  • Holidays: 4 weeks per year.

Work environment

ICTA- UAB is globally renowned for its cutting-edge research. In global university rankings, UAB ranks 8th in environmental studies worldwide having attracted 10 ERC grants and 18 currently running international projects (13 from the H2020 Programme). ICTA-UAB was accredited with the highest recognition of scientific research in Spain, the ‘María de Maeztu’ Unit of Excellence for the period 2016-2020, and again for the period 2020-2024.

ICTA provides a stimulating working environment in which mutual support is combined with a lot of room for individual initiative. The postdoc will become a member of our high-standing academic and international community with plenty of opportunities for collaboration. Within the SUSTAIN team, the postdoc will work back-to-back with the PIs and a team of Master’s students. We will encourage the postdoc to have her own voice within the project and explore additional research opportunities that are synergistic with it and contribute to promote her career.

We challenge our staff and students to approach issues from multiple disciplines and encourage them to take a different view. We are also proud to welcome people from different countries, ethnicities, and genders.


If interested, please send an email of interest before the 31th of January:

  • A 100-words statement of interest.
  • A 4-page max. CV, stating at least education, job posts, fieldwork experience, skills, and key achievements (publications, grants, research impact, etc.).

Contact information

Sergio Villamayor-Tomas: villamayortomas@gmail.com
Esteve Corbera Elizalde: esteve.corbera@uab.cat