Two doctoral positions in social-ecological network modelling


ETH Zurich


Sunday, November 15, 2020

Start Date

Thursday, April 1, 2021

The Chair for Planning of Landscape and Urban Systems (PLUS) at the Institute for Spatial and Landscape Development of ETH Zurich, is a young, dynamic and interdisciplinary research team addressing challenges in sustainable landscape and urban development. We are looking for two doctoral candidates who will study the long-term dynamics of spatial social-ecological networks and analyse emergent properties of these networks.

Project background

The two doctoral candidates will work in the project “EMPHASES: Assessing emergent phenomena in complex social-ecological systems with time series of settlement and habitat networks” financed by the Swiss National Science Foundation ( As much as human societies depend on networks of settlements that are well connected by roads and rail (i.e. settlement networks), animal species also depend on networks of well-​connected habitats (i.e. habitat networks). Settlement and habitat networks are complex social-​ecological networks due to the many interactions within and between the networks. By studying the long-term historical development of settlement and habitat networks in Switzerland, we aim to uncover and explain emergent social and ecological phenomena (e.g. regularities in temporal trends or network properties) that can increase our understanding of sustainable growth of urban regions. The networks will be constructed from historical databases and maps. The latter will be classified and vectorised by a third doctoral student in this project. The project is in collaboration with scientists from the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL and the Institute of Cartography and Geoinformation at ETH Zurich.

Job description

The two doctoral candidates will work on work packages 2 and 3 of the EMPHASES project (see project link above). While one doctoral candidate will be mainly responsible for the construction and analysis of the settlement network time-series, the other candidate will focus on the habitat networks. However, both researchers will work in close collaboration, as an important goal of the project is to analyse the interactions and feedbacks between the networks. Funding for both positions has been secured and both positions are for four years. The EMPHASES project will officially start on 1 April 2021.