Vacancy: Research Fellow in Global Assessment of Water Security

School of Geography and the Environment, Oxford

Grade 8: £37,756 – £45,053 p.a.

The Environmental Change Institute (ECI) is seeking to appoint a Research Fellow to join our major research programme on water security. Our research on water security takes a multi-scale approach, analysing global risks and exploring how pathways to water security can be appraised and implemented at the river basin scale. We address droughts, floods and water quality in an integrated risk-based approach. The Research Fellow will pioneer new analysis of risks and develop metrics.

We are seeking to appoint an experienced water researcher with a strong track record of publication in the scientific literature and a genuine motivation to address water challenges of global significance. The applicant may come from a hydrological, water resources systems or water economics, with experience of modelling at a range of scales, ideally including regional and global scales. The postholder must hold a Doctorate or have equivalent research experience in a relevant subject. The Research Fellow will be expected to take initiative in design and implementation of research and publication of results. There will be opportunities to contribute to teaching to the School’s Master’s programmes.

This is a senior position aimed at candidates with an outstanding specialist abilities and research track record, so the advertised Grade 8 reflects this level of responsibility. We will also consider candidates at an earlier career stage with a strong research track record and outstanding research potential, and in that case a post may be offered at Grade 7 (£29,837 – £36,661 p.a.) with the responsibilities adjusted accordingly.

This is a fixed-term post for up to 18 months in the first instance, with the intention to extend to 24 months subject to satisfactory project progress.

You will be required to upload a CV and supporting statement when you apply.

The closing date for applications is 12.00 noon on 11 August 2014. Interviews will be held on 5 September 2014.

To apply, search for the vacancy on the university’s employment website and click on the Apply Now button.

Job description and selection criteria

New research on water security and sustainable growth presented to high level panel at Singapore International Water Week

On 2 June, Professor Jim Hall stressed the importance of water security to economic growth at a high level panel discussion at Singapore International Water Week, chaired by Mr. Angel Gurria, Secretary-General, OECD, and Dr. Ursula Schaefer-Preuss, Chair, Global Water Partnership.

The panel discussion was part of a UN Secretary-Generals’ Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB) meeting and briefed the Board on the progress of the GWP/OECD Global Dialogue on Water Security and Sustainable Growth.

The session was also attended by high level participants such as Chen Lei (Minister of Water Resources, China) and Melanie Schultz (Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment, Netherlands).

Mr Gurria provided an overview of the Global Dialogue, which aims to improve understanding of the linkages between water security and economic growth and to highlight the different development pathways that countries can follow to improve their water security. The Global Dialogue consists of a series of high level panel discussions, a Task Force of experts producing new knowledge on the issue, and a series of country consultations.

Dr Claudia Sadoff (World Bank) and Professor Jim Hall (Oxford University) presented the ongoing work and preliminary results of the Task Force, which they chair together with Professor David Grey (Oxford University).

The Task Force brings together an international team of economists, scientists, engineers and policy experts to provide new evidence on the relationship between water security and sustainable growth. By analysing the risks of water security and the constraints they impose on growth, the Task Force aims to promote global action to address water-related risks.

Hall and Sadoff presented research from a global analysis which for the first time demonstrates the significant impact of mean annual runoff and runoff extremes on a country’s economic growth. This confirms that high levels of water variability and unpredictability inhibit growth and helps make the case for investment in water security.

The presentation included a series of global maps which using new evidence from global datasets and models show where the water-related risks are located in the world. Risks fall into four categories: droughts, water scarcity and high variability; floods; inadequate water supply and sanitation; and harmful impacts on the environment.

The Task Force research will also provide new insights about responding to water insecurity, through analysing and comparing case studies of cities, aquifers and river basins, and illustrating pathways to achieving a tolerable level of water-related risks to growth.

Related links

The GWP-OECD Global Dialogue on Water Security and Sustainable Growth

Celebrating a decade of the MSc Water Science, Policy and Management

Alumni from across 10 years of the School of Geography and the Environment’s MSc Water Science, Policy and Management gathered in Oxford on 30 May – 1 June 2014 for a weekend packed with celebrations and networking. The Vice-Chancellor Professor Andrew Hamilton gave a special address and commended the course’s achievements.



In 2004 when the MSc in Water Science, Policy and Management (WSPM) was launched in response to global water security challenges, it was unique of its kind in offering a multi-disciplinary course with scientific depth and practical and policy relevance. Last weekend the course’s 10th anniversary was celebrated by 69 alumni and current students from 25 countries, 15 current and former teaching staff, and another 40 guests including supporters and sponsors.

The weekend event offered a rich array of activities and talks, with reflections from former and current course directors, shared experiences from alumni working around the world, insights from sponsors and employers, as well as plenty of networking opportunities, college dining, alumni-led discussions and a reception at the Museum of Natural History.

The Vice-Chancellor Professor Andrew Hamilton

The Vice-Chancellor Professor Andrew Hamilton

Professor Andrew Hamilton, Vice-Chancellor, spoke enthusiastically about the importance of WSPM. “Looking at the influence of graduates of the Masters programme and the roles that they are playing around the world is absolutely superb. It’s a magnificent example of the role that this great University can play when it really focusses its mind on issues of massive importance in the contemporary world. And there are few of greater importance than water.”

Alumni perspectives were given by Dr Alex Guerra Noriega (2005/06), Director, Private Institute for Climate Change Research (ICC), Guatemala; Amos Chigwenembe (2011/12), WASH specialist, Catholic Relief Services, Malawi; and Saima Mian (2011/12), Environmental Consultant, Woods Hole Group Middle East, Pakistan.

During a productive networking day held at Wolfson College, alumni identified six key water challenges and discussed ways in which the alumni network can work to address these: risk reduction, innovation, governance, infrastructure, the water-energy-waste nexus and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The alumni profiles are impressive in terms of diversity of organisations in which they now work, seniority of positions, and geographical spread of influence. “The best part is seeing how well the alumni have done” said Rachael McDonnell, the first director of the course. “Looking at their profiles – you see major organisations, major government roles, people taking on terrific responsibilities – and from talking to them I know that they are using the knowledge that they gained from those days in Oxford lecture theatres.”

Dr Rachael McDonnell and Professor Mike Edmunds

Professor Mike Edmunds and Dr Rachael McDonnell

The current WSPM class, just recovered from post-exam exhaustion, enjoyed this exciting welcome into the WSPM alumni network and took the opportunity to connect with water professionals from around the world.

Dr Katrina Charles, current Course Director said, “it was wonderful to welcome back alumni from across the 10 years of the course for our 10 year anniversary weekend. It was amazing to see where they went with their discussions around the key challenges in water. We look forward to continuing to work with our alumni to develop a stronger network for their career development and to support the MSc in Water Science, Policy and Management as it enters its second decade.”

Related links

Counting each drop: corporate concern mounts about water supplies

Alex Money, DPhil Candidate at the School of Geography and the Environment, warns that big companies may have already taken all the easy options to improve their water efficiency, in a New York Times article.

Companies from beverage makers to the mining and energy industries are beginning to scrutinise their vulnerability to water stresses. ‘Water risk’ has become a useful concept to think about the potential for company costs or operations to be adversely affected by water-related problems, not just shortages or floods, but also pollution, regulatory troubles or increases in the prices of water and water-dependent raw materials.

Read the full article