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Research Associate - Earth Sciences in Ecuador

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University of Bristol
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Job title - Research Associate in Landslide Hazard Assessment for Quito, Ecuador
Job number - ACAD104424
Division/School - School of Civil, Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
Contract type - Fixed Term Contract
Working pattern - Full time
Salary £33,797 - £38,017
Closing date for applications - 1st March 2020

The city of Quito, Ecuador, is exposed to multiple geophysical and hydro-meteorological hazards including volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, intense rainfall and landslides.

Rapid urban expansion coincides with hazard-prone areas, creating new risks and amplifying existing inequalities.

Rainfall-triggered landslides present a frequent and widespread hazard.

Recent development in landslide research at the University of Bristol have shown that stochastic slope stability modelling can potentially enhance landslide hazard assessment in data-scarce locations like Quito – informing community-based risk reduction, changes to the way we build on slopes and land use management.

Applications are invited for a 1-year PDRA position at University of Bristol to apply and refine these prototype methods and support the delivery of new landslide hazard assessment methods and information for Quito.

This project is part the international interdisciplinary research hub, ‘Tomorrow’s Cities’, which aims to “catalyse a transition from crisis management to multi-hazard risk-informed planning and decision making for disaster-prone cities in low-to-middle income countries” (

The five-year hub is funded by the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and is led by research teams and stakeholders in Quito, Kathmandu, Istanbul, Nairobi and the UK.

The PDRA will be based in the Department of Civil Engineering and will collaborate with colleagues in the School of Earth Sciences, Escuela Politécnica Nacional (EPN), Quito, and other UK universities, to refine data sets, design modelling experiments and analyse results.

The PDRA will:

i) Benchmark landslide hazard assessment models and methods against case study sites;
ii) Use MATLAB to statistically analyse parameter distributions;
iii) Implement tens-of thousands of stochastic slope stability simulations on Bristol’s High Performance Computer;
iv) Analyse sensitivity and uncertainty of simulation results to generate hazard assessment and decision support information;
v) Review methods to represent multiple landslide triggers and cascading landslide-flow hazards in Quito;
vi) Prepare papers for publication.

The successful candidate will have a strong civil engineering or physical science background applied to the numerical modelling of environmental processes.

They will have a PhD in Civil Engineering, Geology, Environmental Science, Geographical Sciences or Physical Sciences, either completed or close to completion.

Essential attributes include expertise in MATLAB programming; experience of using physics-based numerical models to represent environmental processes; experience of using statistical methods; familiarity with using Unix/Linux; and a working knowledge of soil geotechnical and hydrological properties and methods for analysing slope stability.

For further enquiries regarding this position, please contact Dr Liz Holcombe (

We welcome applications from all members of our community and are particularly encouraging those from diverse groups, such as members of the LGBT+ and BAME communities, to join us.

Click Here to Apply

Status: Research Scientist
Location: Bristol, UNITED KINGDOM
Advert Published: 1 Feb 2020
Expiry date: 2 Mar 2020
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