YSSP and Postdoc Program

The Water Program is dedicated to supporting and promoting YSSP students and Postdocs. We select students and scholars from all over the globe, with an interest in water related research 

If you are interested in applying to be a YSSP or a Postdoc in the Water Program, this page gives an overview of the Water Program’s research agenda. It also highlights research topics and skills of interest to the Water Program.

The Water Program’s Research Agenda

Building on IIASA’s system analysis perspective, the Water Program is pioneering the application of new methodologies in the areas of sustainable water resources management and stakeholder oriented solution pathways integrating hydrological and water resources modeling, hydro-economic systems analysis, agricultural assessments, water governance perspective, and climate change impact assessments at regional as well as global scales. These methodologies are applied to the world’s water challenges in order to provide robust scientific evidence to support the identification and assessment of strategies, technologies and governance options for countries with different water issues.

Areas of Research

The Water Program’s research activities combine solution-oriented and policy-relevant research with exploratory and empirical analysis. The main areas of research comprise:

  • Integrated assessment of global and regional water resources and water futures
  • Innovating solution pathways and relevant indicators towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Paris Agreement
  • Advancing stakeholder oriented model development
  • Global and regional agricultural systems analysis
  • Global and regional hydro-economic systems analysis

Applications should be related to at least one of these fields. In particular, we are looking for YSSP and Postdoc applicants interested in working on the following topics:

  • Modeling large-scale hydrological processes and water resources including surface water, groundwater, wetlands, and lakes. A special emphasis is put on integrating human impacts on water resources such as agriculture, water use, reservoir regulation, and inter-basin transfer. See Community Water Model (CWatM)
  • Modeling large-scale water quality processes under increasing pressure from human activities and climate change. Our focus on water quality includes but is not limited to nutrients (phosphorus, nitrogen), salinity, and eutrophication at different spatial scales, but preferably at large-scales such as a large basin or continent. See Community Water Model (CWatM)
  • Modeling and analyzing large-scale hydro-economic systems that represent spatially distributed water resource systems, infrastructure, management options and economic values in an integrated manner. Our focus includes balancing water supply and demand at different temporal and spatial scales using an economic optimization procedure that simulates a variety of basin management decisions including inter-basin transfers, resource extraction, reservoir storage, and water infrastructure investments. See Hydro-Economic model (ECHO)
  • Modeling and analyzing agricultural systems at different spatial scales considering synergies and trade-offs of alternative uses of agro-resources (land, water, technology) for food and energy production, while preserving environmental quality. See Global Agro-Ecological Zones (GAEZ)
  • Analyzing water supply and demand balance including water quality at different spatial and temporal scales integrating hydrological models, satellite information, and country statistics. A special emphasis is put on the supply-demand analysis under future socio-economic development and climate change. Our current focus regions include but not limited to East Africa, the Zambezi, and the Indus. See WFaS, WFaS East Africa, ISWEL
  • Water Security in East Africa. Research contributing towards mid- to long term projections of future water availability and demand in East Africa and in Africa as a whole. Research on water resources management challenges and solution options under different socio-economic, demographic and climatic scenarios. Research on the economic benefits and trade-offs of water resources development investments and political economy aspects across the entire water/food/energy/environment nexus or selected elements of it. See WFaS
  • Exploring integrated solutions to water, energy, and food, and ecosystem security at different regions, that face multiple water, energy and land use challenges and rapid demographic and economic changes, and increasing climate variability and change. A special emphasis is given on answering questions about how to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs) with respect to climate change and the associated Paris Agreement. See ISWEL, ISIpedia, EUCP
  • Developing and designing the state-of-the-art climate change impact indicators from multi-sectoral model simulations including water, agriculture, energy, and ecosystem. A key focus is on fulfilling the needs of the broad set of users and to ensure the production of global and regional climate-impact assessments. A special emphasis is put on global and regional climate impacts at appropriate levels of aggregation and complexity, including information about models limitations, the most important sources of uncertainty, and missing process-understanding. See ISIpedia, COMICC, ISWEL
  • Innovating sectoral and cross-sectoral indicators to assess future hydro-meteorological risks including flood, drought, and water scarcity at various spatial scales relevant to end users in support of monitoring SDGs 6 and 13 for the near term (1-40 year). A key focus is on help advancing climate and non-climatic (i.e., human activities) attribution of hydro-meteorological events and impacts at various spatial scales, using Community Water Model. See EUCP
  • In cooperation with the ENE, ESM, and TNT programs, modeling the water-energy-land-ecosystem nexus, integrating Community Water Model (CWatM), Hydro-Economic model (ECHO), MESSAGE, and GLOBIOM. See ISWEL
  • Understanding policies, institutions, and other factors that contribute to the adaptation and sustainable use of global and water resources in developed and developing countries. A special focus is put on integrating modeling and water governance. See WFaS, ISWEL

This list is meant to be informative not exhaustive. Potential applicants are welcome to suggest other research topics which fit into the Water Program’s research agenda.


  • Data analysis
  • ArcGIS (alternative open-source GIS applications are also welcome)
  • GAMS for mathematical optimization
  • Any programming language (e.g. R, Python) for the analysis of large data sets.

Applicants are encouraged to contact the Water Program's YSSP and Postdoc coordinator Sylvia Tramberend for any scientific related questions.

Staff and YSSPs enjoying the Water Program's summer outing

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Last edited: 16 November 2017


Sylvia Tramberend

Research Scholar

Water Security Research Group - Biodiversity and Natural Resources Program

T +43(0) 2236 807 401

More about the Water Program

Water at IIASA

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313