The School of Geographical Sciences is seeking a Research Associate for 41 months to work on developing and testing climate risk information for adaptation, primarily focusing on climate change in southern Africa. The role is part of a larger programme, seeking to develop a new “Climate Futures Science for Adaptation”. The successful applicant will join an interdisciplinary team of climate scientists, risk communication researchers, and climate services experts from the UK and South Africa, led by Dr Rachel James as part of a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship.
This position presents an exciting opportunity to work at the forefront of transdisciplinary research. Whilst behavioural science approaches have been applied to promote action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and there is important ongoing work to improve risk communication of short-timescale weather and seasonal forecasting information, there has been very little work to date to apply these scientific principles to the challenge of communicating about long term changes in climate risk. This research programme hopes to change that, by testing approaches in southern Africa which could lead to lessons and frameworks for other regions.
The successful applicant will join a new, energetic, and well supported team. There will be a strong focus on career development. This role involves substantial research in southern Africa, and funding is available for annual research visits as well as two extended placements based in South Africa.
What will you be doing?
The successful applicant will focus on communications research. An important early task will be to better understand the needs for climate information in southern Africa. The Research Associate will work with collaborators in South Africa (University of Cape Town, University of Pretoria, Kulima Integrated Development Solutions) and a core stakeholder group including, for example, environment ministries, disaster managers, and donor agencies, to investigate the requirements for information at a regional and national scale. Another early task will be to review communications research to identify evidence-based design principles for risk information, drawing insights from a range of sectors, for example from public health. The Research Associate will then work to design experiments to test learning from climate information, and, with the larger team, co-develop alternative communications outputs to be evaluated through these experiments. A key part of the role will then be to conduct the experiments/testing of information products. This will likely involve a combination of surveys and interviews with governmental and non-governmental professionals involved in national or regional planning across southern Africa.
You should apply if
- You are enthusiastic to collaborate with an interdisciplinary team to bring insights from communications research into climate change adaptation work
- You have experience in a relevant discipline or problem area, and/or a postgraduate research degree
- You have experience of conducting surveys, focus groups, and/or interviews, and experience of analysing data from research with participants
- You enjoy investigating new research questions and solving problems
- You are able to communicate complex information clearly to a range of audiences, and to work collaboratively with people from different disciplines and backgrounds
We welcome applications from all members of our community and are particularly encouraging those from diverse groups, such as members of the LGBT+ and BAME communities, to join us.