University of aberdeen




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UNIVERSITY OF ABERDEEN



COLLEGE OF LIFE SCIENCES AND MEDICINE


DOT.RURAL DIGITAL ECONOMY RESEARCH HUB

RESEARCH FELLOW: SOCIAL SCIENTIST – ENVIRONMENT, CONSERVATION AND DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY


REF NO: RDH0040R


FURTHER PARTICULARS FOR APPLICANTS





1. THE POST


Background


The dot.rural Digital Economy Hub at the University of Aberdeen brings together cross-disciplinary expertise to conduct research into how the lives and work of communities and businesses can be enhanced in rural areas across the UK through the use of novel digital technologies. The Hub has research projects within four separate themes: Healthcare; Accessibility and Mobilities; Enterprise and Culture; and Natural Resource Conservation. Projects focus on both underlying digital infrastructure issues and the design of new digital services for individuals, communities and businesses, exploring the processes involved in digital engagement in social, cultural and economic domains. Professor John Farrington is Director of the Hub and Professor Peter Edwards is the Technical Director. Together they lead a team of ten investigators who work in close collaboration with a wide network of community, business and policy partners. In addition to its core research agenda, the Hub is also developing an extensive programme of training and outreach activities, including public engagement and awareness raising events.

The Hub is based within the University’s College of Physical Sciences but brings together research expertise from a range of disciplines across the University, including computer science, communications engineering, human geography, transport studies, sociology, health sciences and environmental sciences, to facilitate the development of integrated solutions for rural areas. See http://www.abdn.ac.uk/central/depts/schools.shtml for further information about the University’s Colleges and Schools.


Further details about the dot.rural Digital Economy Hub can be accessed at: http://www.dotrural.ac.uk


Digital Economy is a cross-research council programme developed by Research Councils UK (RCUK), aimed at realising the transformational impact of ICT for all aspects of business, society and government. The programme links the world-class ICT research base in the UK with other disciplines needed to deliver its benefits and to match those with a strong user-pull to deliver a programme of multidisciplinary, user-focused research, aimed at building a base of people and expertise to put the UK at the forefront of the Digital Economy. The EPSRC, which has led the initiative on behalf of RCUK, defines the Digital Economy thus: “Digital Economy is the novel design of use of information and communication technologies to help transform the lives of individuals, society or business”. Other research councils involved in the initiative are MRC, ESRC and AHRC.

To date, the Digital Economy programme has funded several strands of activity, including EPSRC Doctoral Training Centres, leadership fellowships, exploration studies on information-driven health, various workshops on issues related to digital technologies and large-scale Research Hubs to build capacity and expertise in the skills needed to realise the Digital Economy. The University of Aberdeen received £11.8M to fund one of three Digital Economy Research Hubs. To learn more about the Digital Economy programme, see: http://www.rcukdigitaleconomy.org.uk/

Purpose


The dot.rural Digital Economy Hub is seeking to build a strong interdisciplinary research team and now wishes to make an appointment of a social scientist with an interest in environmental sciences and digital technology as part of the research theme Natural Resource Conservation. The successful candidate will have a good understanding of social science theory and analytical (qualitative and quantitative) methods, and an interest in applying this to real-world situations, whilst ideally having experience within the participatory and/or communication science arenas.


In concrete terms, the research fellow will help develop and be responsible for social science research on two research projects, both associated to rivers: (i) effective communication of river water levels to the public; and (ii) volunteer retention in a large-scale community-based nature conservation action (mink control). Hence, knowledge of the social, political and environmental contexts of river catchments, as well as the ability to use GIS, are highly advantageous, as is the willingness to work closely with industry and policy-making partners. The candidate will have a PhD or be about to complete a PhD in a social science related discipline. Enthusiasm for digital technology and innovation are essential, as is the ability to work in a cross-disciplinary team including colleagues from the computer sciences and environmental sciences.


2. KEY DUTIES AND RESPONSIBLITIES




  • Assist the development and implementation of an integrated and novel research programme - in collaboration with project researchers and stakeholders - into the use of digital technologies for natural resource management in accordance with the dot.rural Digital Economy Hub research strategy.

  • Liaise with investigators, regulators and user groups involved in the river catchment activities.

  • Lead and contribute to the production of reports and academic papers, and conduct the underpinning analyses of interdisciplinary data.

  • Participate in appropriate - external as well as dot.rural research - events, training, awareness raising and outreach activities.

  • Contributing to development of research funding applications.

  • Contributing to the overall planning and management of dot.rural activities.




3. ESSENTIAL KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS AND EXPERIENCE




  • Hold (or be about to obtain) a PhD degree in the social sciences or a related interdisciplinary field (with a strong social sciences component).

  • An undergraduate or Masters degree in social/environmental sciences or any other relevant BSc/MSc degree.

  • Evidence of ability to conduct internationally recognised research in an area of science relevant to the work proposed within this project.

  • Ability to work individually and with others.

  • Excellent organisational, written and oral communication skills, including electronic communication.

  • Experience with both qualitative and quantitative research methodology and associated data analysis.

  • Experience of giving academic presentations and disseminating research.

  • Experience of report writing and/or authorship of academic journal papers.

  • Enthusiasm for innovation relevant to society and economy.

  • Enthusiasm for interdisciplinary research.




4. THE UNIVERSITY


The University of Aberdeen, which was founded in 1495, has over 14,000 full-time matriculated students. The University is a world-class research-led centre of learning and teaching excellence. Coupled with these excellent results, the biological and medical researchers have a strong track record of grant income from the UK research councils, EU and medical charities.


The University has two campuses. The King’s College Campus retains its medieval layout and village atmosphere, its fifteenth-century cathedral and its sixteenth-century university chapel. This heritage is fused with modern, state of the art facilities for research, learning and teaching, making it fit for purpose for the students of today. The Foresterhill campus is approximately 1.5 miles from King’s, a comfortable walk through leafy streets. The University currently employs more than 3900 staff including 1600 academics and has a turnover in excess of £200 million per annum (web site: http://www.abdn.ac.uk/).


In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise eleven of our research areas were ranked among the top 25% in the UK: Agriculture and Food Sciences, Computing Science, English Language and Literature, French, Health Services Research, History, Hospital Based Clinical Subjects, Pure Mathematics, Town and Country Planning, Sociology, Theology and Divinity and Religious Studies.


The University's organisational and management structure operates within a devolved managerial and budget system. Academic units are grouped into three colleges: Arts and Social Sciences, Life Sciences and Medicine and Physical Sciences.



5. THE COLLEGE OF LIFE SCIENCES AND MEDICINE


The College comprises the following five academic Schools, supported by the Graduate School:


The College of Life Sciences and Medicine was created in 2003 as part of organisational restructuring throughout the University. The College, led by Professor Neva Haites, Head of College, is home to over 3000 undergraduate and postgraduate students, and is internationally recognised as a research-led centre for teaching excellence and increasingly commercialisation. The College is run by the Head of College and Heads of School, who have line management responsibilities, with strategic direction and leadership provided by College Directors of Teaching and Research together with Directors of Research Institutes.

The main driver for the creation of Colleges was to create organisational units large enough to provide managerial, budgetary and planning capacity to determine their own strategies and to manage their own finances at a high level. Within Colleges, structures have been created to support staff and to promote research and teaching collaborations. This also applies to working between the Colleges to ensure interdisciplinary work flourishes.

The School of Medicine and Dentistry and School of Medical Sciences are co-located within two research institutes on the Foresterhill Medical Campus: the Institute of Applied Health Sciences and the Institute of Medical Sciences. The Schools of Biological Sciences (with its Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences) and Psychology are located a short distance away on the historic Old Aberdeen Campus, which houses the rest of the University. The College has benefitted from significant estate and infrastructure development in the past 10 years with refurbishments of its Polwarth, Cruickshank and Zoology buildings, the last incorporating a science teaching facility. New build projects have created the Institute of Medical Sciences, the Medical Research Facility, the Health Sciences Building, the deep sea facilities at Oceanlab 1 and 2 (phase 2 opening spring 2009), the Life Science Innovation building and the Suttie Centre for Teaching and Learning in Healthcare (opening summer 2009).

Looking ahead, a major new build project is in planning, a new home at Foresterhill for the Rowett Research Institute that merged with the University in summer 2008.



6. THE CITY OF ABERDEEN


With the population approaching 250,000, Aberdeen is big enough to provide all the advantages of city life, yet compact enough to enjoy the more intimate atmosphere usually associated with small towns.


Aberdeen caters for a wide range of tastes in sporting and cultural activities.  To find out more about Aberdeen and its surrounding area go to www.VisitScotland.com and click on Aberdeen on the map.


7. SALARY AND TERMS OF EMPLOYMENT


Should you require a visa to undertake paid employment in the UK you will be required to fulfil the minimum points criteria to be granted a Certificate of Sponsorship and Tier 2 visa. As appropriate, at the time an offer of appointment is made you will be asked to demonstrate that you fulfil the criteria in respect of financial maintenance and competency in English. Please do not hesitate to contact Lynda Johnston, HR Adviser, for further information on this.


This post is funded by the EPSRC and it is anticipated that the project activities will be completed within 2.5 years of the agreed post start date. This appointment will be made subject to the usual terms and conditions of employment of the University.


Salary will be at the appropriate point on the Grade 6 scale (£29,972-£32,751 per annum), with placement according to qualifications and experience.


8. APPLICATION PROCEDURE


Informal enquiries may be made to; Dr. René van der Wal (r.vanderwal@abdn.ac.uk) or Dr. Antonio Loris (a.ioris@abdn.ac.uk).


PLEASE DO NOT SEND CV’S OR APPLICATIONS FORMS TO THE SCHOOL OR COLLEGE


Online application forms and further information is available at www.abdn.ac.uk/jobs.


Please quote reference RDH0040R on all correspondence.


The closing date for the receipt of applications is 8 November 2011.

The University pursues a policy of equal opportunities in the appointment and promotion of staff.


UNIVERSITY OF ABERDEEN


PERSON SPECIFICATION



POST NO: RDH0040R

TITLE: Research Fellow



GRADE: 6


SECTION/SCHOOL : Dot.Rural Digital Economy Research Hub





ESSENTIAL



DESIRABLE


1. EDUCATION/QUALIFICATIONS

Academic, technical and professional education and training.


  • A PhD degree in the social sciences or a related interdisciplinary field (with a strong social sciences component).

  • An undergraduate or Masters degree in social/environmental sciences or any other relevant BSc/MSc degree.







2. WORK AND OTHER RELEVANT
EXPERIENCE (INCLUDING TRAINING)


e g Specialist knowledge, levels of experience, skills, supervisory experience, research.


  • Evidence of ability to conduct internationally recognised research in an area of science relevant to the work proposed within this project.

  • Excellent organisational, written and oral communication skills, including electronic communication.

  • Experience with qualitative social scientific research methodology and associated data analysis (including the use of NVivo or related software).

  • Experience of giving academic presentations and disseminating research.

  • Experience of report writing and/or authorship of academic journal papers.




  • Knowledge on the social, political and environmental contexts of river catchments.

  • Ability to use GIS.

  • Experience of interdisciplinary research.

  • Experience of research income generation.

  • Experience within the participatory and/or communication of science arenas.

3. PERSONAL QUALITIES AND ABILITIES

e g Initiative, leadership, ability to work on own or with others, communication skills.


  • Ability to work individually and with colleagues from other disciplines.

  • Enthusiasm for innovation relevant to society and industry.

  • Excellent organisational and written and oral communication skills, including electronic communication.

  • Flexible approach.

  • Good IT skills (word processor, spreadsheet and database, email, internet).




4. OTHER

e g Special circumstances (if any) appropriate to the job such as unsocial hours, travelling, physical requirements etc.


  • Willingness to travel for research purposes.




  • Due to the nature of work, a driving licence or access to independent means of transport is desirable




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