Senior Research Associate

Cambridge, United Kingdom
Closing date: 16 February 2020

DEADLINE: 16 February 2020

The Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER) invites applications for a Senior Research Associate from any relevant field of expertise or experience who is best able to contribute to our urgent mission. We study global risks, including those that could lead to human extinction or civilisational collapse, develop collaborative strategies to reduce them, and foster a global community of academics, technologists and policy-makers working to safeguard humanity. We are interested in applications from candidates who can either contribute to our existing strands of work, or who might lead the development of work in additional areas of, or approaches to, such extreme risks.

As part of CSER's growing interdisciplinary research team, this role will support our engagement in further ambitious, longer-term research projects, and build on our unparalleled networks to translate our findings into strategies for global risk reduction.

Key activities associated with the role include:

  • Independent and collaborative research to be published as papers, reports, and other more innovative forms of outputs.
  • Contribution to the development and implementation of CSER's research programmes and collaborations.
  • Participation in and some coordination of Centre-wide activities, and support for other members of CSER's research team, including through supervisory or mentorship roles.
  • Maintaining coordination and active dialogue about Centre activities with CSER's management board, collaborating centres, financial supporters, and other stakeholders.

The Role

The Senior Research Associate will be expected to contribute to the production of individual and collaborative research outputs relevant to their particular focus area, and to more broadly participate in the scholarly and outreach activities of the Centre. Candidates should also be able to demonstrate a strong interest in the research foci of the Centre.

Candidates will have a high level of education, with at least three years experience at a postdoctoral level, or equivalent experience within a relevant setting (e.g. policy, industry, think tank or NGO) and should provide strong evidence of potential for research and publication at a high level. CSER is home to a community of researchers who work together on the complex challenges of managing global risks. We are looking for candidates who would contribute to such a community, and work as part of a growing team, both within CSER, and with our many research partners.

Part of the application process includes submitting a two-page indicative research proposal outlining what you plan to achieve during your time in the role. We welcome proposals that engage with and / or expand our research themes, demonstrate some connection with wider communities and practice, and have potential for significant impact. We expect the proposal to explicitly address issues of catastrophic and existential risk, such as dealing low probability, high impact scenarios, and the long-term future of humanity.

There is a list of some indicative topics and approaches here, which connect to our existing research and future plans. This list is non-exhaustive; applicants are encouraged to generate their own 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.

Applicants must have:

  • A high level of education, preferably to a PhD level, and at least three years of postdoctoral research experience or equivalent experience in a relevant setting.
  • Expertise relevant to CSER's mission and work.
  • Excellent organisational skills, including the ability to organise own workload effectively, maintain a high level of research productivity, and support others in managing competing demands.
  • Excellent written and oral communication and presentation skills, including the ability to represent CSER and its research to diverse stakeholders and expert communities.
  • The inclination and the intellectual versatility to engage with a range of 'big-picture' questions, and the ability to pursue such questions in a rigorous way.

Funding for this post is available until 31 July 2024 in the first instance.

How to apply

If you are interested in applying, please click on the 'Apply online' button on this webpage (or at the button below). This will route you to the University's Web Recruitment System. Our hiring panel can only consider applications made through this system.

Interviews will be held in the week commencing 2 March 2020 to start as soon as possible.

The full job description can be found here.

If you have any questions about this vacancy you can contact Catherine Rhodes at, or about the application process, please contact Helen Aston, HR Administrator on

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.

Find out more & Apply

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