Research Associate/Senior Research Associate - Indicative Topics and Approaches

Cambridge, United Kingdom
Closing date: 16 February 2020

Postdoctoral Research Associate / Senior Research Associate, Centre for the Study of Existential Risk

For more information about the posts being advertised, please visit the following webpages:

If you are unsure whether to apply at PDRA or SRA level, please do submit an application for both positions; the selection panel will assess your application at both levels. If you submit an application for both positions, please include a note in your cover letter to explain this.

Indicative Topics and Approaches

Please note that this list is non-exhaustive. Applicants are encouraged to generate their own novel ideas and break new research ground.  We our interested in proposals that draw on any relevant field of expertise to create an ambitious project aligned with CSER’s mission.

  • Compiling a robust interdisciplinary evidence base for studying at least one area of risk. This could involve developing innovative approaches for evidence gathering such as web-scraping, structured expert elicitation and scenario-based exercises.
  • Analysing and interrogating pathways to global catastrophe for challenges such as biodiversity loss, climate change or unsafe or weaponised technological developments and identifying key assumptions, uncertainties, tipping points and intervention opportunities;
  • Addressing methodological challenges associated with risk analysis of high impact events or developments that are of low probability or unprecedented in human history.
  • Bringing insights from the natural sciences and technology development to our understanding of extreme risks and their mitigation, for instance applying the life and environmental sciences to work on the interactions between climate change and (re)-emerging disease threats.
  • Developing new approaches to global disaster risk reduction and preparedness that can address our vulnerability and exposure to global risks and long-term trends, and improve resilience of critical systems.
  • Exploring the implications of AI and digital technologies for emerging nuclear security, biosecurity, cyber-, food- and other security challenges.
  • Developing sophisticated foresight methods to map future trajectories and risks associated with technologies such as advanced biotechnologies, geo-engineering, and artificial intelligence, and civilizational trends.
  • Bringing insights from political science, security studies and international relations to our understanding of the context in which threats may be realised, and the effect that geopolitics can have on our ability to respond effectively.
  • Examining the historical management of extreme risks to draw out learning points and develop ways to integrate these within our other strands of work (such as scenario-building and risk communication).
  • Investigating the role of complexity and interactions between different areas of risk, including through systems-based approaches to understanding and responding to risk, such as taking an integrated approach to tail risks associated with climate change that incorporates considerations of food security, biosphere integrity and political instability. 
  • Understanding how societies (and key groups and individuals within them) respond to crisis events and how to approach this aspect of managing extreme risks. This might examine how to foster relationships of trust for managing such risks or intersect with our work on global justice and risk governance.

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