Tijdelijk dienstverband
Master (EQF 7)
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Uur p/wk:


Improve decision-making for high impact low probability events


Job description

Our societies are increasingly confronted with crises and disasters, ranging from the Covid19 pandemic to the climate crises, from societal fragmentation to the war in Ukraine  While risk-based approaches remain a "gold standard" for the evaluation of well-characterized threats, they are not equipped to deal with high impact-low probability (HILP) events. In this PhD project, you will analyse cascading risks and interdependencies, and aim to understand how information and decision-making can be improved to create more resilient societies.
As part of the new EU-H2020 AGILE project, you will work with an interdisciplinary team on the development of a stress testing methodology. You will have the opportunity to work on seven case studies, closely collaborating with local partners in the development of your methodology, ranging from Rotterdam (NL) to Venice (IT), from Iceland to Ukraine. The methodology will be based on the decision support cycle and entail the following steps: 
(1) Analyse and model the interdependencies across different critical societal functions and assess the nature of the dependencies. We will organize workshops based on collective problem structuring techniques to develop scenarios, cause-effect chains, and the ambitions and values of different decision-makers and stakeholders. Decision alternatives (interventions) to mitigate risks will be identified at different scales (neighbourhood, urban, to regional or national) and within different sectors or infrastructures.


(2) To assess preferences and risks, you will adjust conventional preference elicitation methods to include group dynamics, and potential volatility of risk perceptions. We will also explore the implications of different values and norms, such as taboos, or 'do no harm' principles that are often applied in crisis management. We will explore the implications of these choices as compared to standard approaches (e.g. utilitarian; CBA). 


(3) In a next step, we will analyse the impact of decisions and information flows across different sectors. To this end, you will develop collaborative mapping exercises to analyse the interdependencies between the different actors and organizations. The resulting maps will describe the decision authorities and flow of information among the actors to capture critical interdependencies organizationally. 


(4) In a final step, we will empirically investigate the impact of information sharing across different decision-makers and authorities. To this end, we will develop behavioural experiments that identify potential implications of information on sensemaking and group decision performance. 


The position is embedded at the Faculty of Technology, Policy & Management (TPM) Resilience Lab, TU Delft - see https://www.tudelft.nl/en/tpm/resiliencelab. The candidate will be joining this vibrant and growing community of researchers and educators bringing innovative and scientific breakthroughs to improve societal resilience in complex socio-technical challenges. You will be supervised by Prof. Tina Comes and Dr. Nazli Aydin. This embedding as well as the connection to the AGILE project ensure access to a broad network of partners in research, policy and practice. You may also gain experience in supervising MSc students and engage in teaching. Via our network and tailored mentoring, we will create opportunities for you to develop your career through support for conferences, collaborations and training possibilities.



You are a highly motivated and enthusiastic researcher with the ambition to conduct high-quality interdisciplinary research that pushes the boundaries of research on decision-making in crises 

- You have an MSc degree in Decision Sciences, Policy Analysis, Information Science, Systems Engineering, Artificial Intelligence, Data Analysis, or a related field (essential).
- You have knowledge in the field of crisis / disaster management or resilience (desirable) 
- You are keen to combine your analytical and quantitive skills (desirable) with your experience in stakeholder workshops, interviews and empirical validation (desirable).  
- You thrive in a collaborative and multi-disciplinary environment and look forward to interacting with researchers and experts on different domains (essential) 
- You have an excellent command of spoken and written English and good communication skills (essential) 
- You have excellent study results (essential). Academic writing skills are regarded as assets. 

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements.


Conditions of employment

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2541 per month in the first year to € 3247 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged.

For international applicants, TU Delft has the Coming to Delft Service. This service provides information for new international employees to help you prepare the relocation and to settle in the Netherlands. The Coming to Delft Service offers a Dual Career Programme for partners and they organise events to expand your (social) network.


TU Delft (Delft University of Technology)

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core values and we actively engage to be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.

Challenge. Change. Impact!


Faculty Technology, Policy and Management

The Faculty of TPM provides an important contribution to solving complex technical-social issues, such as energy transition, mobility, digitalisation, water management and (cyber) security. TPM does this with its excellent education and research at the intersection of technology, society and policy. We combine insights from both engineering and social sciences as well as the humanities. TPM develops robust models and designs, is internationally oriented and has an extensive network of knowledge institutions, companies, social organisations and governments.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management.


Additional information

For more information about this vacancy, please contact Prof. Tina Comes (t.comes@tudelft.nl)     


Application procedure

Are you interested in this vacancy? Please apply before 24 June 2023 via the application button and upload: 

  • Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  • Motivation letter indicating your research interests and experience
  • One-page proposal with a rough project description about how you will approach the presented problem
  • Diplomas/degrees including a grade transcript of previous education at Master level

The first round of interviews will take place in the first week of July.

You can apply online. We will not process applications sent by email and/or post.