Junior Science Officer

Job Title: Junior Science Officer [Download job opening]
Office: Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR)
International Programme Office (IPO)
c/o Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth (RADI)
Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS)
Location: No. 9 Dengzhuang Nanlu, Haidian District, Beijing 100094, China
Duration: two years initially, renewable subject to satisfactory performance and funding availability
Application deadline: 5 January 2015, no later than midnight China Standard Time (CST) [Sunday, 4 January 2015, 16:00 Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)]

 Background Information – About IRDR

Over recent decades, our knowledge and understanding of natural hazards has grown greatly. Scientists can more accurately characterise the possible magnitude of hazard events and can better estimate the probability of their occurrence at specific magnitudes, especially for weather-related events. Far more is now known about the socio-economic dimensions of disasters, for instance human exposure and vulnerability (lack of resilience) to natural hazards and locations where poverty and multiple stresses influence the incidence of losses.

Yet, despite this growth in knowledge, losses associated with environmental hazards have also risen rapidly. IRDR seeks to address this dilemma and to improve the ways in which science is used to shape social and political decision-making in the context of hazards and disasters. The challenges are such that potentially successful approaches need to integrate expertise in research and policy-making and experiences across all hazards, scientific disciplines, geographic regions, societal sectors and political institutional frameworks.

IRDR is co-sponsored by the International Council for Science (ICSU), the International Social Science Council (ISSC), and the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR). It is a decade-long global, trans-disciplinary and cross-sectoral research programme that addresses major challenges of natural and human-induced environmental hazards and helps to curb disaster losses through better use of relevant science. Through its four core projects, led by world-class experts, IRDR therefore intends to provide a baseline of the current state of the science on integrated research on disaster risk (AIRDR: Assessment of Integrated Research on Disaster Risk); examine issues such as the underlying and root causes of disasters (FORIN: Forensic Investigations of Disasters); seeks to improve disaster loss databases (DATA); and investigates Risk Interpretation and Action (RIA), encompassing also areas of inquiry and practice such as policy-making, the role of communications, and public and political perceptions of and responses to risk.

The IRDR programme is also establishing International Centres of Excellence (ICoEs) worldwide and is working through dedicated National and Regional Committees (NCs and RCs) as mechanisms to mainstream an integrated approach to disaster risk reduction research and practice efforts at national and regional levels, and on an institutional basis, thereby further developing links with capacity-building activities.

Background Information – Job-Specific

Organisational Setting and Reporting Relationships: Formally established in May 2010, the International Programme Office, located in Beijing, China, is the focal point for the coordination, execution and other related functions of the IRDR programme. Led by an Executive Director, the IPO has four supporting scientific/technical and administrative staff—Junior Science Officer, Communications Officer, Administrative Officer and Office Assistant—all of whom report to the Executive Director and are formally employed by the IPO’s host institution, the Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth (RADI) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

Key Responsibilities: The Junior Science Officer will be responsible for:

  • Providing planning and programming support to the IRDR Executive Director.
  • Monitoring and analysing the implementation and development of IRDR’s core projects and related programme activities.
  • Preparing various written outputs, e.g. annual reports, background papers, inputs to publications and websites, etc.
  • Providing substantive support to the Executive Director in the planning and execution of workshops and other events (national and international), the bi-annual meetings of the IRDR Science Committee (SC), biennial global IRDR Conference, as well as the annual Consultative Forum, including proposing agenda topics, identifying and interacting with participants, preparing background documents and presentations, and preparing the reports of these meetings.
  • Tracking follow-up actions from meetings.
  • Acting as a focal point for the wider IRDR community, including IRDR ICoEs, IRDR NCs and RCs and partner organisations in disaster risk reduction research.
  • Giving presentations about IRDR to diverse audiences within China and internationally.
  • Undertaking domestic and international travel to promote and represent the programme when required and to support the Executive Director.
  • Assisting the Communications Officer in the implementation of the IRDR Communications Plan.
  • Performing other duties as required by the Executive Director.

Work implies frequent interaction with the following:

  • Working group co-chairs of IRDR’s four core projects.
  • Counterparts and technical officers located at the respective headquarters of IRDR’s Co-Sponsors—ICSU, ISSC and UNISDR—and the regional offices of ICSU and UNISDR.
  • Counterparts and technical officers within the IPO’s host organisation, RADI.
  • Directors and representatives of organisations designated IRDR ICoEs, NCs and RCs.
  • Counterparts and technical officers within partner organisations of the IRDR programme.
  • IRDR IPO team for the daily discharge of all programme management tasks.

The successful candidate will be able to learn how to operate in an international environment at the interface of science, practice and policy-making, including interactions with the United Nations (UN) and other regional organisations. S/he can acquire a good insight into the functioning of relevant global scientific networks and funding structures, and can gain an understanding of planning and foresight processes.


  • Professionalism: Knowledge and understanding of disaster risk reduction theories, concepts and approaches. Ability to identify and anticipate issues, and analyse, develop solutions, and participate in the resolution of such issues in programme management as they arise. Ability to plan own assignments, work independent of daily or on-site supervision, and manage conflicting priorities.
  • Accountability: Takes ownership of all responsibilities, and delivers the outputs of such responsibilities within the prescribed time, cost and quality standards. Complies with the rules and regulations of the IRDR IPO and its host, RADI.
  • Teamwork: Works collaboratively with other staff members to achieve the goals of the IRDR IPO, proactively contributing to better team performance. Willing to assist and solicit others’ inputs and expertise and keen to learn from others.
  • Planning and Organising: Develops clear goals that are consistent with agreed strategies and uses time efficiently; prioritises and monitors activities and assignments, and adjusts priorities as required.

Education / Experience / Knowledge / Technical Skills / Language Requirements

  • Education: Advanced university degree (Master’s degree) in a scientific discipline (including social sciences) relevant to natural hazards and disaster risk reduction.
  • Experience: A minimum of three to five years of progressively responsible experience in project or programme management, preferably at an international level.
  • Knowledge: Background in/familiarity with disaster risk reduction required; familiarity with climate change adaptation and/or sustainable development desirable.
  • Technical Skills: Mastery of regular office software (Microsoft Office Suite); some understanding and experience of website management; some experience with professional use of social media (working with the Communications Officer).
  • Language: Native/near native English speaker required; ability to express oneself clearly and unambiguously in both written and spoken English. The working language of the IPO is English; knowledge of Mandarin can be helpful, but is not a requirement and not among the selection criteria.

Contract Type and Duration

  • Contract type: Fixed term
  • Contract duration: two years initially, renewable subject to satisfactory performance and funding availability

How to Apply

Closing date for applications: Monday, 5 January 2015, no later than midnight China Standard Time (CST) [Sunday, 4 January 2015, 16:00 Greenwich Mean Time (GMT),

Only online applications will be accepted. Please submit the following documents in PDF format (there is no application form):

  1. Application letter, explaining why you are interested in the post and outlining the skills and experiences you feel you could bring to IRDR and its IPO.
  1. Current CV with your contact details, nationality and residency, giving evidence for the competencies and experiences required for this position, and also including the names, institutional affiliations, telephone, e-mail and Skype contacts (where available) of three individuals who have indicated their readiness to provide a professional reference, indicating their relationship to you.

Submit applications by e-mail to jobs@irdrinternational.org, stating “Application JSO Post” in the subject line.

The application letter should be addressed to:

Dr Rüdiger Klein
Executive Director
Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR) Programme
c/o RADI/Chinese Academy of Sciences
Room B713, No. 9 Dengzhuang Nanlu
Haidian District
Beijing 100094

Interview date: the first round of interviews will be held via Skype from 14-16 January 2015.

Additional Considerations and Next Steps

  • Applications received after the closing date will not be considered.
  • Only those candidates short-listed for an interview will be notified.
  • It is expected that the successful candidate will take up his/her appointment no later than 1 June 2015.
  • Once recruited the candidate will sign an employment contract with RADI/CAS.

For more information about the IRDR programme please visit: www.irdrinternational.org.

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