We’re recruiting a systems / agent-based modeller

We have a job going in Glasgow, at the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit. This position is focused on developing and applying complex systems models, including agent based models, to problems in population health. The post holder will work across the Complexity in Health Improvement and the Neighbourhoods and Communities research programme within the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow. The programmes are collaborating to understand how place-based interventions might improve health and reduce health inequalities.

The closing date is  21 February 2018. You need to apply via the University of Glasgow’s online system. The job reference is 020096,

The main purpose of this position is to contribute to the programmes’ research using complex system simulation methods. The postholder requires up to date knowledge, understanding and experience of complex systems simulation modelling (including agent based models) and knowledge/experience of computer programming languages or platforms suitable for this kind of work. The application of these methods to understanding and improving public health is relatively novel, but they have been applied in other fields such as ecology, economics and social policy. Experience in applying these methods to health is desirable, but not essential – experience from other fields would be welcome.

Main Duties and Responsibilities

Perform the following activities in conjunction with and under the guidance of the Programme Leaders (PLs).

1. Plan and conduct assigned research into how place and health are linked via complex systems, individually or jointly in accordance with the programmes’ development strategies.

2. Contribute to the programmes’ research in complex system simulation methods (including agent based models) through design, programming and implementation of simulation models in one or more project areas.

3. Document research output including analysis and interpretation of all data, maintaining records and managing databases, drafting technical/progress reports and papers as appropriate.

4. Develop and enhance your research profile and reputation and that of The University of Glasgow, SPHSU, and both the Complexity in Health Improvement and Neighbourhoods and Communities Programmes, including contributing to publications of international quality in high profile/quality refereed journals, enhancing the research impact in terms of economic/societal benefit, and gathering indicators of esteem.

5. Contribute to the presentation of work at international and national conferences, at internal and external seminars, colloquia and workshops to develop and enhance our research profile.

6. Contribute to the organisation, supervision, mentoring and training of less experienced members of the programme teams.

7. Contribute to the identification of potential funding sources and assist in the development of proposals to secure funding from internal and external bodies to support future research.

8. Collaborate with colleagues and participate in team/group meetings/seminars/workshops across SPHSU/Institute of Health and Wellbeing/ University and wider community (e.g academic partners).

9. Perform administrative tasks related to the activities of the research group including budgets/expenditure.

10. Contribute to outreach activities of the University of Glasgow.

11. Keep up to date with current knowledge and recent advances in the field/discipline.

12. Engage in personal, professional and career development to enhance both specialist and transferable skills in accordance with desired career trajectory.

13. Undertake any other duties of equivalent standing as assigned by Directors of cognate Research Institutes and/or PLs.

14. Contribute to the enhancement of the University’s International profile in line with the Strategic Plan, Glasgow 2020 – A Global Vision.

These key tasks are not intended to be exhaustive but simply highlight a number of major tasks which the staff member may be reasonably expected to perform.

Knowledge, Qualifications, Skills and Experience


A1. Scottish Credit and Qualification Framework (SCQF) level 10 (Honours degree). May be working towards post-graduate qualification such as a Masters (SCQF level 11) or PhD (SCQF level 12) in a relevant discipline. Or equivalent professional qualifications in relevant academic/research discipline, and experience of personal development in a similar role.
A2. Up to date knowledge, understanding and experience of complex systems simulation (including agent based models).
A3. Knowledge of and experience with computer programming languages or platforms suitable for simulation modelling (these could include NetLogo, Repast, Python, C/C#, Java, etc.)

B1. Knowledge of population health research, ideally including public health improvement, social determinants of health and place-based influences on health.
B2. Knowledge of complex adaptive systems and their properties, including concepts such as emergence and self-organisation.


C1. Demonstrable ability in complex systems modelling.
C2. Research creativity and cross-discipline collaborative ability as appropriate.
C3. Excellent communication skills (oral and written), including public presentations and ability to communicate complex data/concepts clearly and concisely.
C4. Excellent interpersonal skills including team working and a collegiate approach.
C5. Appropriate workload/time/project/budget/people management skills.
C7. Self motivation, initiative and independent thought/working.
C8. Initiative and judgement to resolve problems independently, including demonstrating a flexible and pragmatic approach.

D1. Ability to engage in knowledge transfer with non-academic audiences and public health advocacy organisations.
D2. Ability to use GIS software &/or R to handle spatial data.


E1. Sufficient breadth and/or depth of knowledge in the specialist subject/discipline and of research methods and techniques.
E2. Experience of scientific writing.
E3. Proven ability to deliver quality outputs in a timely and efficient manner.

F1. Experience of working in an academic setting.
F2. Experience using open data or open source software.
F3. Evidence of an emerging track record of publications in a relevant field.

Job Features

To develop and use complex systems models within an academic environment of the highest national or international quality.
Publish as appropriate to subject specialism within agreed timescales.
Informal support of less experienced members of the programmes’ teams e.g. postgraduate and project students.
Engage in personal, professional and career development to enhance both specialist and transferable skills in accordance with desired career trajectory.

Planning and Organising
Management of time and prioritisation of research, teaching and administrative duties.
Planning, organisation and implementation of research projects on a weekly/monthly basis.
Plan research directions that are within the available budget.
React to varying project needs and deadlines.

Decision Making
Undertake decision making on all aspects of research project/activities.
Support the programme leaders’ in identifying research opportunities
Adjust approaches to meet project outcomes
Identify best journals for publication and meetings/conferences to attend.
Identification of equipment and materials for purchase.

Internal/External Relationships
University colleagues: to exchange information to ensure efficient working and to facilitate cross disciplinary working.
External bodies/collaborators: proactively maintain co-operation and links at all levels to enhance profile and reputation.
Dissemination: Preparation and presentation of reports/results and participation in meetings and conference calls.

Problem Solving
Research including technical and theoretical aspects/problem solving and development of novel ideas
Be aware of project and budgetary issues, equipment lead times.
Assistance of undergraduate/postgraduate students and junior team members with problems relating to research project.

Representation of the University/College/School through presentation at national and international events
Attendance at training events to learn and implement new research technologies.
Prepared to travel to meetings in the UK/Europe and elsewhere as required by the University.

Additional School/RI/College Information

The MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, Institute of Health and Wellbeing, University of Glasgow

The Unit’s aim is to promote human health by the study of social, behavioural, economic and environmental influences on health. We have five objectives:

• to study the multiple interacting processes through which biological, social, behavioural, economic and environmental factors influence physical and mental health over the lifecourse;
• to discover mechanisms which can modify these processes and have the potential to improve population health in a complex world;
• to develop translational interventions which harness these mechanisms to improve public health and reduce social inequalities in health;
• to evaluate interventions and policies in terms of their ability to improve public health and reduce social inequalities in health;
• to influence policy and practice by communicating the results and implications of research to policy, professional and lay audiences.

The Unit receives core funding from the UK Medical Research Council and Scottish Government Chief Scientist Office (CSO). The Unit is part of the Institute of Health and Wellbeing.

The Unit has six research programmes:

• Complexity in health improvement
• Measurement and analysis of socio-economic inequalities in health
• Social relationships and health improvement
• Understanding and improving health within settings and organisations
• Neighbourhoods and Communities
• Informing Healthy Public Policy

Unit staff and students come from a range of social and public health science disciplines including statistics, mathematics, epidemiology, public health medicine, nursing, natural sciences, human sciences, nutrition, sociology, anthropology, economics, psychology, geography, and history. The Unit is improving its impact on the environment through a Green Policy and has joined 10:10.

Neighbourhoods and Communities programme
The Neighbourhoods and Communities programme of research is focused on understanding how to make social and physical environments that are salutogenic and equigenic; that is which improve and equalise public health. We are particularly interested in understanding how different parts of the social and physical landscapes we live in connect together in systems and interact to affect our health. To do this, we are exploring new methods which reflect the fact that people move around within and between neigbourhoods, towns and cities, that urban environments change over time, and that the human and natural worlds are intricately connected.

Complexity in Health Improvement programme
The programme aims to develop and apply research methods for understanding and modelling the multiplicity of interdependent factors that influence population health, and to particularly apply these methods to the development and evaluation of interventions and policies to improve public health and/or reduce health inequalities.More details about the programmes are available at

Standard Terms & Conditions

Salary will be on the University’s Research and Teaching Grade, level 6, £28,098 – £31,604 per annum.

This post is full time and has funding until 31 March 2020.

New entrants to the University will be required to serve a probationary period of 6 months.

The successful applicant will be eligible to join the Universities’ Superannuation Scheme. Further information regarding the scheme is available from the Superannuation Officer, who is also prepared to advise on questions relating to the transfer of Superannuation benefits.

All research and related activities, including grants, donations, clinical trials, contract research, consultancy and commercialisation are required to be managed through the University’s relevant processes (e.g. contractual and financial), in accordance with the University Court’s policies.

Vacancy ref: 020096, Closing date: 21 February 2018.

It is the University of Glasgow’s mission to foster an inclusive climate, which ensures equality in our working, learning, research and teaching environment.

We strongly endorse the principles of Athena SWAN, including a supportive and flexible working environment, with commitment from all levels of the organisation in promoting gender equity.

The University of Glasgow, charity number SC004401.

More Info…

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