Research Fellow, Sociology

Surrey, United Kingdom
£36,024 to £39,347
26 Sep 2023
End of advertisement period
22 Oct 2023
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time


Location: Guildford
Salary: £36,024 to £39,347
Post Type: Full Time
Closing Date: 23.59 hours BST on Sunday 22 October 2023
Reference: 048523

We seek a highly motivated Research Fellow to join the Wellcome Trust-funded project: “A Health-centred Systems Approach towards Net-Zero: Transforming regional climate mitigation policies (Heal-NZ)”. The overall aim of Heal-NZ is to transform regional Net-Zero policy solutions by adopting a health-centred systems approach. To this aim, Heal-NZ brings together scientists from a range of disciplines (including social science, climate, air quality, data, health and economics) from the Universities of Birmingham, Surrey, and York, and stakeholders from West Midlands Combined Authority,  Defra, Birmingham City Council,  Clean Air Fund, Sandwell  Metropolitan Borough Council, Coventry City Council, Solihull Council, Cambridge Environmental Research Consultants, and WSP in the UK to develop new tools and science understanding. 

This postholder (30 months) will be a member of a large team of 25 investigators and stakeholders, 9 research fellows and the project manager.

The researcher will work closely with Dr Alexandra Penn to design and run a regional participatory co-production process with project stakeholders including local government, through which we will develop participatory systems maps of three key regional Net Zero, climate and health-related policy areas: transport; housing and energy, and the interactions between them. This will include: identifying and contacting stakeholders; helping to develop the workshop programmes and organising workshops, designing new methods to fit the on the ground context and maintaining stakeholder relationships and the participatory process over time. The postholder, with Dr Penn, will collaborate with the wider project team to integrate different types of data and evidence (e.g. from air quality, machine learning and/or health economics models and data collection) into the systems maps and vice versa, using maps to inform modelling and data collection, and to develop methods to do this effectively and robustly. This will entail substantial methodological innovation in systems mapping processes to bring qualitative and quantitative data together in meaningful ways.

The researcher will also work with policy colleagues to collect and categorize relevant Net Zero policy initiatives. These will be prioritized and stress-tested using the systems maps, using causal and network analysis combined with subjective information from stakeholders. This will allow the identification of policy options with possible co-benefits for health and climate as well as analysing potential trade-offs or unexpected indirect effects of policy options and so aid whole systems-informed policy making processes. The researcher will also play a key role in communicating findings to policy makers and other stakeholders and working with them to enable an adaptive policy making process. 

The study area is situated in the West Midlands, with the majority of the team based at the University of Birmingham. All participatory workshops and stakeholder engagement will be carried out in the West Midlands and we hope to encourage significant face to face interaction and successful interdisciplinary working amongst the whole project team. For that reason, travel to the West Midlands on a regular basis for project activities will be required and space will be made available for the researcher in the HEAL-NZ team office at the University of Birmingham.

You must be ambitious and able to work independently, as well as collaboratively in a diverse and multidisciplinary team. Successful applicants should have, or will soon have, a doctoral degree in a relevant discipline, or commensurate professional experience, with evidence of strong interdisciplinary working and qualitative and quantitative skills or demonstrable capacity to develop them where there are gaps. A strong interest in, and ideally experience of, climate and health issues and policy at UK regional government level is required. The ideal candidate will have previous experience in systems thinking or complexity, and in participatory approaches, ideally in systems mapping or other types of participatory modelling. You must be able to work with stakeholders including policy makers and have the ability to organize and maintain an ongoing participatory process and stakeholder relationships as well as to adapt the process to on the ground constraints. You must have sufficient cross-disciplinary understanding to work collaboratively on bridging qualitative and quantitative models, methods and data with other researchers, with the support of a senior researcher.

For informal enquiries please contact Dr Alexandra Penn 

Further details:    Job Description    

For more information and to apply online, please download the further details and click on the 'apply online' button above.

In return we offer a generous pension, relocation assistance where appropriate , flexible working options including job share and blended home/campus working locations (dependent on work duties), access to world-class leisure facilities on campus, a range of travel schemes and supportive family friendly benefits including an excellent on-site nursery.

Click here to find out more about the benefits we offer to support you.

The University of Surrey is committed to providing an inclusive environment that offers equal opportunities for all.  We place great value on diversity and are seeking to increase the diversity within our community.  Therefore we particularly encourage applications from under-represented groups, such as people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups and people with disabilities.

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