Quick facts

    • Amsterdam
  • Full time
  • Recruitment

Categories:

  • Economy
  • Environmental science
  • Psychology
  • Social science

Subjects:

  • Phd

Apply by: 2022-07-10

Two PhD positions: Tailored behavioural interventions to stimulate energy efficiency in residential homes

Published 2022-05-23

Are you interested in behavioural economics and eager to contribute to deploying clean energy technologies in residential homes rapidly and at scale? Please apply at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

JOB DESCRIPTION
The energy and the climate crisis reinforced the urgency of energy efficiency in residential buildings. Yet, we observe that the energy transition in residential buildings is greatly hampered as individual citizens and citizen collectives bear high information, coordination and transaction costs. At the same time, policymakers are expected to orchestrate a complex process, in which a myriad of critical investments determine the overall energy system efficiency and decarbonisation costs.

The 4-year project ALIGN4Energy, funded by the Netherlands Science Foundation (NWO), aims to contribute to deploying clean energy technologies in residential homes rapidly and at scale. The ALIGN4energy consortium provides a total of 11 PhD positions aimed to simultaneously address the citizens, policy and business perspectives of the residential energy transition by: 1) mapping citizens' preferences and investment barriers, 2) modelling the impact of diverse investments on overall energy system efficiency, 3) developing an adaptive decision-support system for citizens and policymakers supported by artificial intelligence that simultaneously optimises investments at the individual and collective level, and by 4) co-creating and field-testing behavioural interventions to stimulate investments in energy efficiency in combination with participation mechanisms. The Department of Environmental Economics of the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM) at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam will coordinate ALIGN4Energy and will host two of the 11 PhD positions with a strong focus on the behavioural and quantitative economic sciences. Both PhDs hosted at IVM will strongly collaborate with researchers from other Dutch universities and research institutes and will form part of a larger PhD network.

For PhD 1 you will co-design tailored decision-support for investments in residential energy efficiency, including behavioural interventions such as nudges. Based on the insights on the different types of decision-makers, you will co-design personalised behavioural interventions in a collaborative way with our societal partners (e.g. municipalities, ministries, digital platform developers, utilities, banks). These personalised behavioural interventions will be tested in selected test beds in several Dutch municipalities through one of the energy transition platforms we have access to (i.e. Habitata, BuurtWarmteWijzer). In this step, we will compare the outcomes of the interventions to a control group without personalised interventions. The objective is to design and test interventions which are the most effective in stimulating energy efficiency, and thereby, make an important contribution to the sustainable energy transition.

For PhD 2 you will test the digital tailored individual and collective decision-making support on a large scale through one of the energy transition platforms we have access to (i.e. habitata, BuurtWarmteWijzer). Amongst others, you will compare whether such a mechanism helps to effectively coordinate the investment decisions within citizen collectives (such as a VVE or a group of tenants), comparing the treated group to a comparable group without participation mechanism. Moreover, you will implement the personalised interventions at a large scale on the habitata platform and apply the learning algorithms developed to further refine the prediction model. The objective is to design and test decision-making mechanisms to stimulate energy efficiency of citizens and citizen collectives at scale, and thereby, to make an important contribution to the sustainable energy transition.

Your duties
  • analysis of survey data and field experimental data
  • co-design of tailored decision-support & behavioural interventions
  • testing of tailored decision-support & behavioural interventions (incl. nudges) in online and offline test beds
  • testing of collective decision-making mechanism in selected online and offline test beds
  • large-scale field-testing of interventions based on learning algorithm
REQUIREMENTS
PhD 1
  • a Master's degree in (Behavioural) Economics, Econometrics, Social Psychology, Sociology, Environmental Studies or a related discipline with a strong behavioural science focus
  • affinity with and interest in behavioural economics/social psychology, behavioural interventions and prior experience with experimental behavioural science research
  • strong background and/or strong interest in quantitative economics/statistical data analysis, including analysis of survey data and field experimental data (randomized controlled trials / RCTs)
  • strong collaboration and communication skills to work in a larger team of researchers from other disciplines and with societal stakeholders
  • Dutch language skills and/or experience in the Dutch context are an asset but not a requirement
PhD 2
  • a Master's degree in (Behavioural) Economics, Econometrics, Data Science, Social Psychology, Sociology, Environmental Studies or a related discipline with a strong focus on quantitative research
  • affinity with and interest in behavioural economics/social psychology, behavioural interventions and prior experience with experimental behavioural science research
  • strong background and/or interest in quantitative economics/statistical data analysis, including analysis of field experimental data (RCTs) and use of machine learning techniques
  • strong collaboration and communication skills to work in a larger team of researchers from other disciplines and with societal stakeholders
CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT
A challenging position in a socially involved organisation. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2.443 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €3,111 (PhD) per month during the fourth year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 0.8 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for one year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a duration of three years.
Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:
  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment, 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus, solid pension scheme (ABP), contribution to commuting expenses, optional model for designing a personalised benefits package
EMPLOYER
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavor - from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 30,000 students. We employ over 5,500 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam's Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

Diversity
We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

The Faculty of Science
The Faculty of Science inspires researchers and students to find sustainable solutions for complex societal issues. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to medicines and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research programmes cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. We share knowledge and experience with leading research institutes and industries, both here in the Netherlands and abroad.

Working at the Faculty of Science means working with students, PhD candidates and researchers, all with a clear focus on their field and a broad view of the world. We employ more than 1,250 staff members, and we are home to around 6,000 students.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your motivation letter, curriculum vitae, and the names and contact details of two references (we will only contact these for candidates selected for an interview) by 10 July 2022. Also indicate for which PhD position you are applying.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Prof. P.J.H. van Beukering
Position: Director Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM)
E-mail: pieter.van.beukering@vu.nl
Website: www.ivm.vu.nl

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