IIASA Water Security Research Group (WAT) is dedicated to supporting and promoting students and postdocs who have an interest in water-related research.  

If you are interested in applying for the Young Scientists Summer Program (YSSP) or for a Postdoc position in WAT, we invite you to propose a research project of your interest that is aligned with the WAT research agenda and research topics. See the WAT home page for an overview of the WAT research agenda, current research topics and skills of interest.

WAT Research Agenda

Building on the IIASA system analysis perspective, WAT 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 across scales from local to regional and global. 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

WAT 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 scenario development and regional water-food-energy-environmental nexus assessments
  • Global and regional hydro-economic and agricultural systems analysis

Applications should be related to at least one of these fields. 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 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 Global 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 v4)
  • 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 WFaSWFaS East AfricaISWEL
  • 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 WFaSISWEL

This list is meant to be informative not exhaustive. Potential applicants are welcome to suggest other research topics which fit into the WAT 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 WAT YSSP and Postdoc coordinator, Sylvia Tramberend for any research related questions.