Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
Rudolf Agricola School for Sustainable Development
Bringing sustainability science forward
More News & Events

Vacancy: PHD Realistic Computational Models Of Behavior In Cascading Disasters (1.0 FTE) (V23.0774)

30 November 2023
decorative image

About the research

There has been a significant change in the risk landscape in recent years. Climate change is only one of the many factors that increase the likelihood and magnitude of extreme events, triggering compound disasters with unforeseeable consequences.

A single disaster such as an unexpected flood can turn into a cascading event if an earthquake happens, causing disruptions in communicative networks, unclear evacuation behaviors and resulting in road congestion and further accidents.

To improve preparedness for, and management of, cascading disasters it is necessary to adopt a systemic risk approach, because human decisions are embedded and shaped by the physical and the social context.

This project's full title "Realistic computational models of human behavior in cascading disasters: Agent-based models and citizen science to enhance disaster risk preparedness in Groningen" shows its inter- and trans-disciplinary nature. The project will combine computational models and citizen science approaches to develop a set of agent-based simulations of a cascading disaster and its consequences for the province of Groningen.

The aim of this inter- and transdisciplinary project is to investigate disaster preparedness by means of a simulation model of behavioral preparedness and emergency management in the case of a cascading disaster.

The province of Groningen, due to its existing vulnerabilities, offers an instructive case study to model the combination of a major earthquake and a dyke failure. The project will be interdisciplinary (integrating theories from analytical sociology, cognitive psychology and citizen science), multi-method (agent-based modeling and citizen science) and transdisciplinary (adopting a problem-centered approach that allows citizens, first responders and policy makers to contribute to the development of the project).

This project is part of an interdisciplinary collaboration between Sociology, Complexity science and Agent-Based modeling.

Supervisory team

The supervisory team is composed of: Dr. Wander Jager, University College Groningen, Promoter; Prof. Andreas Flache, Sociology, Promoter; Dr. Francesca Giardini, Faculty of Behavioral and Social Sciences, and Dr. Mohammad Gharesifard, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Supervisors.

The tasks of the PhD candidate are:

  • conduct research that results in a dissertation and is in line with the objectives and requirements of the project
  • organize and execute the data collection for the different studies
  • publish the results of the research in international scientific journals
  • present the research findings to fellow scientists and developers in the larger project, and collaborate with them
  • provide a limited number of educational activities at the Sociology department.


The University of Groningen is a research university with a global outlook, deeply rooted in Groningen, City of Talent. Quality has had top priority for four hundred years, and with success: the University is currently in or around the top 100 on several influential ranking lists.

The Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences excels in teaching and research in the fields of human behaviour, thinking, learning, and how people live together. We work on societal issues and problems that people experience in daily life. Central to this is individual and societal resilience and how to increase this. To this end, we focus on the topics of migration, the environment and climate, health, upbringing and education, the protection of vulnerable minorities, and sustainable partnerships. The Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences employs over 800 staff members. For more information about the Faculty please check the link


The project is funded by the M20 PhD Program 2023 and the activities of the projects will be conducted in close connection with the Agricola School for Sustainable Development. The student will be trained in the ICS and will be hired at the Department of Sociology. The Interuniversity Center for Social Science Theory and Methodology (ICS) is an internationally renowned Research Center and Graduate School in the field of Sociology, located in the Netherlands at the Universities of Groningen, Utrecht, Nijmegen, and Amsterdam (UvA).

Job requirements

For this position, you are expected to:

  • have a (research) master's degree in Sociology, Psychology, Computer Science (or a related discipline)
  • have a solid training in either quantitative methods and statistics, and/or computational social science, and a motivation to learn new methodologies
  • experience with agent-based modelling and/or knowledge of citizen science or other participatory approaches is an advantage
  • be enthusiastic about writing international publications and a dissertation
  • have good academic English writing skills
  • have good social and communication skills and are willing to work with other team members
  • be enthusiastic about translating scientific insights into practical guidelines and advice
  • have good organizational skills and the motivation to organize and realize data collection
  • have demonstrable competences as conceptual capacity, presenting, planning and organizing and monitoring
  • speaking Dutch (or willingness to learn it) is considered an advantage.

working conditions

We offer you in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:

  • a salary of € 2,770 gross per month in the first year of the appointment, rising to € 3,539 gross per month in the fourth year for a full-time position
  • a holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income an 8.3% end-of-the-year allowance
  • attractive secondary terms of employment
  • the position is classified in accordance with the University Job Classification (UFO) system; the UFO profile is PhD candidate
  • a temporary employment of 1.0 FTE for a period of four years. You will first be employed for a period of one year. After a positive result and development interview, the contract will be extended for the remaining period of three years.

Intended starting date: February 1st, 2024


You can apply by submitting:

  • CV including 2 references (contact data)
  • letter of motivation (max. 2 pages)
  • copy of your diploma (including grades), or a statement indicating when you are expected to finish your degree (including grades) if you have not finished yet
  • copy of your master thesis (or draft if you have not finished yet)
  • reference letter(s) – optional.

You may apply for this position until 19 December 11:59pm / before 20 December 2023 Dutch local time (CET) by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website). Only submissions via the application form will be considered.

The selection interviews will take place 08-09 January 2024.

The University of Groningen strives to be a university in which students and staff are respected and feel at home, regardless of differences in background, experiences, perspectives, and identities. We believe that working on our core values of inclusion and equality are a joint responsibility and we are constructively working on creating a socially safe environment. Diversity among students and staff members enriches academic debate and contributes to the quality of our teaching and research. We therefore invite applicants from underrepresented groups in particular to apply. For more information, see also our diversity policy webpage:

Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP): and European Commission's European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers:

We provide career services for partners of new faculty members moving to Groningen.

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.

More Information

Francesca Giardini, Associate Professor of Sociology,   f.giardini

Last modified:30 November 2023 10.05 a.m.

More news

  • 11 December 2023

    Join the 'Language and AI' community

    As a part of the Jantina Tammes School, the 'Language and AI' theme is an interdisciplinary initiative that aims to encourage collaboration among academics, PhD candidates, students, and industry representatives who share a keen interest in the...

  • 13 October 2023

    Moniek Tromp appointed Captain of Science of the Top Sector Chemistry

    Prof. Moniek Tromp has been appointed Captain of Science of the Chemistry Top Sector by the Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy. As from 1 July 2023, she succeeded Prof. Bert Weckhuysen from Utrecht University.

  • 12 September 2023

    Art in times of AI

    Leonardo Arriagada Beltran conducted his PhD research on the interface of computer-generated art and the constantly evolving field of Artificial Intelligence (AI). He will defend his Phd thesis on 21 September. His research offers valuable insights...

Follow us onyoutube twitter