As part of the implementation of the new strategy IIASA has made some further research leadership appointments. The research group leaders in each Program will provide research oversight and management of their respective groups and facilitate the functioning of program directors.

IIASA Deputy Director General for Science, Leena Srivastava commented, “I am excited that the new research structure is taking shape and I look forward to working with the research group leaders and program directors to embark on our new strategic priorities over the coming years. I wish all colleagues every success in their new roles.”

Advancing Systems Analysis Program

Program Director: Elena Rovenskaya

The Advancing Systems Analysis Program will focus on a broad range of systems related methods including areas from data sciences, computational sciences, risk, resilience, and financial systems.

Ian McCallum © IIASA

Novel Data Ecosystems for Sustainability: Ian McCallum

Ian McCallum will lead this group who will mobilize the tools of citizen science and data science combined with Earth observation to monitor, analyze, and foster progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) around the world. During his time at IIASA, McCallum has helped develop Geo-Wiki, a globally recognized Citizen Science platform for Earth observation.

Sebastian Poledna © IIASA

Exploratory Modeling of Human-natural Systems: Sebastian Poledna (Acting)

The focus of this group will be to enhance model realism and fit-for-purpose while keeping them computationally feasible as well as theoretically and empirically sound. It will be led by Sebastian Poledna, who has extensive experience in economic forecasting, agent-based modeling, and systemic risk and financial regulation.

Reinhard Mechler © IIASA

Systemic Risk and Resilience: Reinhard Mechler

With over 20 years’ experience in analyzing and addressing socioeconomic aspects of disaster and climate change risks, Reinhard Mechler will lead the Systemic Risk and Resilience group. Their focus will be to anticipate and manage critical risks in ecological, economic, and social networked systems and make these systems more resilient to future shocks of various kinds.

Nadejda Komendantova © IIASA

Cooperation and Transformative Governance: Nadejda Komendantova

Led by Nadejda Komendantova, the aim of the Cooperation and Transformative Governance group will be to design feasible institutions that would promote cooperation across actors in situations of social dilemmas and how to harness the power of systems thinking to inform cooperative consensus-based solutions and novel decision support systems for sustainability transitions at different levels and scales. Komendantova’s expertise includes participatory and multi-risk governance of climate change mitigation and adaption, based on understanding of views and perceptions of stakeholders, governance structures, civil society, and political processes.

Biodiversity and Natural Resources Program

Program Director: Yoshihide Wada

The Biodiversity and Natural Resources Program will address ecosystem management and modeling, biodiversity and land use matters, and fresh water and marine issues. 

Piero Visconti © IIASA

Biodiversity, Ecology, and Conservation: Piero Visconti

The Biodiversity, Ecology, and Conservation group will be led by Piero Visconti. The group will integrate theory, data, and models from these disciplines into IIASA’s existing and new models of system dynamics, harnessing the trans-disciplinary research and system thinking of the institute.​ Research will draw on expertise in spatial analyses, decision theory, statistical modeling, and machine learning, and how these can be applied to ecological and nexus issues.

Taher Kahil © IIASA

Water Security: Taher Kahil

The Water Security group will take an interdisciplinary approach to water resources management connecting different sectors and solution-oriented policy assessments of complex water challenges. Taher Kahil, who will lead the group, has a background in integrated water resource modeling and optimization, and water economics and policy.

Florian Kraxner © IIASA

Agriculture, Forestry, and Ecosystem Services: Florian Kraxner

The Agriculture, Forestry, and Ecosystem Services group will lead the development of IIASA’s biophysical and process-based modeling cluster for the design of resilient and sustainable management strategies in agriculture and forestry, including optimal spatial allocation relying on a landscape approach. Florian Kraxner, who will lead the group, has a background in forestry and environmental sciences, with proven track record in sustainable land management research with focus on restoration and natural climate solutions. He also serves on numerous international scientific boards and expert groups and is president of the International Boreal Forest Research Association.

Petr Havlík © IIASA

Integrated Biosphere Futures: Petr Havlík

The Integrated Biosphere Futures group will focus on integrated biosphere modeling to develop transformations in land, water, and ecosystems management to satisfy human needs while ensuring the sustainable use of natural resources. Petr Havlík, who will lead the group, has extensive experience in global land use related foresight and policy impact assessment activities and he and his team have been developing the global agricultural and forest sector economic model GLOBIOM since 2007. He is also a Top 1% Highly Cited Researcher in the category Social Sciences.

Energy, Climate, and Environment Program

Program Director: Keywan Riahi

The aim of the Energy, Climate, and Environment Program is to understand the nature, dynamics, and pace of feasible systems transformations that can address environmental impacts in a socially and economically sustainable manner.

Zbigniew Klimont © IIASA

Pollution Management: Zbigniew Klimont

Led by Zbigniew Klimont, the Pollution Management group will design bottom-up, multi-sectoral policy intervention strategies for managing all types of pollution. Klimont currently leads the development of models to estimate emissions and mitigation costs of pollutants, and has been involved in emission control strategies and policy studies on air pollutants and their future evolution. He is also a lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report for Working Group 1.

Volker Krey © IIASA

Integrated Assessment and Climate Change: Volker Krey

The Integrated Assessment and Climate Change group will explore transformation pathways at global, regional, and national scales that are informed by local constraints and opportunities. Volker Krey, who will lead the group, has been a lead author of multiple IPCC reports and has extensive experience in the development and application of integrated assessment models.

Bas van Ruijven © IIASA

Sustainable Service Systems: Bas van Ruijven

Bas van Ruijven has a background in integrated assessment and energy demand modelling, and currently works on novel tools to assess future energy demand and on the role of the finance sector in climate scenarios. Van Ruijven’s group will research demand-side systems, lifestyles, and services as critical entry points for environmental policy.

Shonali Pachauri © IIASA

Transformative Institutional and Social Solutions: Shonali Pachauri

Shonali Pachauri will lead this group that will seek solutions to environmental issues that integrate socioeconomic, governance, and equity concerns, with an emphasis to enhance the resilience of the most deprived and vulnerable sections of society. Pachauri has extensive experience in technological, institutional, and social innovations for inclusive human development, she holds numerous advisory board positions, and is a lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report.

Population and Just Societies Program

Program Director: Raya Muttarak

The Population and Just Societies Program will study changing demographics and social structures, as well as their impact on sustainability, resilience, and equitable human wellbeing.

Samir K.C. © IIASA

Multidimensional Demographic Modeling: Samir K.C.

Samir KC currently leads a project on modelling human capital formation, and is developing methods of population projections at sub-national levels. His research group will work towards advancing demographic modeling methods to assess and forecast population dynamics with a focus on social and spatial heterogeneity under different socioeconomic scenarios.

Raya Muttarak © IIASA

Migration and Sustainable Development: Raya Muttarak (Acting)

Led by Raya Muttarak, the Migration and Sustainable Development group will apply advanced data collection and estimation methods to quantify and improve the understanding of trends, patterns, drivers, and consequences of different types of migration considering its interactions with the social, economic, and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.

Thomas Schinko © IIASA

Equity and Justice: Thomas Schinko (Acting)

The Equity and Justice group will develop and apply conceptual and analytical frameworks for integrating equity and justice concerns into IIASA’s core global and universal transformational issues, while respecting the plurality of values and in light of underlying societal inequalities and injustices that have been starkly amplified during the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Thomas Schinko, who will lead the group, has expertise in quantitative economic modelling and qualitative social science methods with a focus on participatory processes and action research.

Social Cohesion, Health, and Wellbeing (TBC)

The Social Cohesion, Health, and Wellbeing group will measure and improve the understanding of causes and mechanisms underlying lifelong health and wellbeing considering the equitable distribution of quality of life and material living conditions across generations, gender, age cohorts, and population subgroups.


Appointments above will commence as of 1 January 2021.

The new program structure also includes the Economic Frontiers and Strategic Initiatives programs. Research groups for the Economic Frontiers program will be developed in 2021, and the Strategic Initiatives program will initiate projects using resources from across all the programs.


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