Centre on Persuasive Systems for Wise Adaptive living (PERSWADE) is seeking outstanding PhD candidates who have a transdisciplinary background and are passionate about turning scientific knowledge into action.
Tax-free scholarship awards – $28,092 per annum
Three open topic positions
The research can focus on one of the following topics, depending on your interests and skills:
- Systems of systems, a network of networks – how uncertainty propagates across scales in systems?
- Dynamics of public opinion in a changing environment – how analysing social media we can understand behaviour and preferences and how can we influence them?
- Standards and documentation – how do we make our models and modelling process (including participatory modelling) reproducible, how can we learn from it, and how can we make such standards adopted by the modelling community?
- Networks and cascades of power – if the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, how can the system change?
- Optimisation of socio-technical systems – what can we achieve if behaviour change is one of the control parameters, which can be changed along with the design and performance of supply systems?
- Constructing, managing and communicating knowledge in transdisciplinary research: ontologies, visualisation, interpretation, complex queries and integration.
Particular applications will be tailored to the interests and passions of the student but will be concerned with such topics as resource scarcity, climate change, food security, energy efficiency, health and healthcare, etc.
Two thematic PhD positions
PhD 1 ‘Disasters and urbanisation’
Natural disasters impact individuals, communities and cities across Australia on a regular basis. Bushfires, storms and floods may have catastrophic consequences, especially in urban and sub-urban areas with high density of population and properties. The growing frequency and severity of these hazards and the booming population trends call for smart urban expansion strategies, which support socio-economic resilience and minimise expected losses. Engagement of various stakeholders and search for synergies between private and public adaptation actions becomes central in the agenda of the Australian government, calling for the development of economic tools to quantify the impact of adaptation actions at various levels. While individual-level actions – such as purchasing insurance, hazard-proofing a house and relocating to a safer place – reduce expected damages and improve resilience, this autonomous adaptation has limits. To be able to assess where these limits are, how they change over time, and how public policies can enhance autonomous adaptation, we need to quantify aggregated impacts of autonomous adaptation. This PhD project will develop a computational spatial agent-based model that traces the impacts of public and private adaptation to climate-driven hazards. This simulation model will serve as an aggregation vehicle to trace changes in damages across scales as individuals and communities dynamically adapt to natural hazards. We focus on the impact on the housing sector since losses to real estate constitute the largest share of the direct damage from catastrophic events such as bushfires, storms and floods.
PhD 2 ‘Adaptive resilient economy: responding to shocks under boundedly-rational economic expectations’
Within this project we focus on understanding macro-economy as an adaptive complex system. Heterogeneous economic agents, which may exhibit bounded-rationality and possess imperfect information, make decisions and interact with each other giving rise to macroeconomic dynamics and phenomena. As economies globally become more interconnected and prone to various shocks, policy and academia become increasingly concerned with the extent of economic damage from various shocks and economy’s ability to recover and evolve in face of adversities. This is especially relevant as we are to deal with more frequent and severe hazards – floods, wildfires, droughts – that accelerate with climate change. Shocks to one economic sector may cause cascading effects in others, exacerbating risks and subsequent macroeconomic fluctuations. To what extent do economic expectations of actors operating in a highly uncertain environment capture this? Departing from the assumption of a representative rational agent with perfect information allows for the quantitative exploration of these processes. This PhD project aims to develop a computational economic agent-based model to explicitly model behaviour of economic agents’, networks of their interactions and expectation formations in uncertain and volatile environments.
Possible application areas include but are not limited: housing bubbles, damage from climate change related extreme events, inequality and socio-economic resilience.
University of Technology Sydney School of Information, Systems and Modeling addresses complex environmental, societal and engineering issues by merging quantitative and qualitative methods. It explores the interfaces between people and systems to improve the effectiveness of enterprises, management and policy-making through innovation in technology and communication.
Desired qualifications and skills
Depending on the particular topic that you choose to explore, we expect you to have a combination of some of the following skills:
- expertise and prior experience in social computing research, particularly with conceptual modelling of users’ behaviour on social media platforms;
- solid knowledge of simulation modelling, experience in system dynamics, social network analyses, Bayesian modelling or agent-based modelling;
- design and analyses of surveys, good statistical skills;
In addition, all candidates should have:
- Excellent master’s degree or bachelor’s degree with honours in applied computer science, quantitative social sciences or environmental sciences;
- Practical experience with socio-environmental applications;
- Programming skills and experience with visualisation and usability techniques;
- Excellent written and spoken English;
- Ability to work independently as a researcher and effectively in a team.
The scholarships carry a basic remuneration of $28,092 tax-free and waivers of the full-time research student fees. There are no restrictions on the nationality of the applicants and the selection will be based on the candidate’s qualifications and experience.
How to apply
Before the formal application please send a cover letter, your short research proposal and CV with a list of publications and names of three referees to:
- For the open topic positions please contact Prof Alexey Voinov.
- For the thematic positions please contact Dr Tatiana Filatova.
The positions will remain open until filled. Please check UTS application deadlines.