Senior Researcher: Water and the Circular Economy

  • The James Hutton Institute
  • 29 Sep, 2020
Full time Engineering

Job Description

Water Research at the Hydro Nation International Centre at the James Hutton Institute

Water is central to our global sustainability, increasingly so, in these extremely challenging times. It provides the crucial link between society and prosperity, our environment and ecosystems. Water is also at the heart of the Climate Emergency and underpins our future low carbon transition and green economy.

We are delighted to announce a new post at the James Hutton Institute within the Hydro Nation International Centre, focussed on the challenge of rural sustainability and the provision of off-grid low carbon systems for water provision and treatment. This is a great opportunity to be part of an ever-growing team of researchers working in water resources at the Hutton. This post is launched to compliment the recently announced fellowship in Rural Water Security funded by the Macaulay Development Trust: MDT Fellow in Rural Water Security (advertised as Hutton 23-20, closing date 12 October 2020)

Senior Researcher: Water and the Circular Economy (Hutton 30-20)

For this post, we seek an enthusiastic senior research innovator to work on contemporary and future challenges facing the low-carbon transition of the water sector, increasing resource efficiency, and promoting the circular economy.

The primary aim is to develop this area of research to support off-grid low carbon, low energy water systems to enhance sustainable rural community potable supply and treatment both nationally and internationally.  This post will be responsible for steering the development of a research programme in this area and contribute to an integrated programme of activity to increase water use efficiency and resource re-use supported through the Scottish Government’s Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services Strategic Research Programme, the Centre of Expertise for Waters (CREW) and Scottish Government’s Water Industry Team. This role will be based in the Environmental and Biochemical Sciences Department at the Institute and within the Hydro Nation International Centre recently established at the James Hutton Institute. This research will link across emerging industry, regulatory, and policy agendas.

The work undertaken by the James Hutton Group is right at the top of the global agenda tackling problems such as the impact of climate change and threats to food, soil and water security. As such, much research at the institute is framed through a collaborative inter-disciplinary lens and with positive stakeholder co-construction, providing added value and increased impact.

The position will benefit from the collaboration and support of a wide range of scientists (e.g. biogeochemistry, hydrology, microbiology, soil sciences, isotopic & analytical chemistry) within the Environmental and Biochemical Sciences Department. In addition, there are dedicated field and catchment experimental platforms, and excellent world class laboratory facilities within the Institute to support research and experimental manipulation. The work carried out at the James Hutton Institute and associated Centres is interdisciplinary and colleagues for other departments such as Social Economic & Geographical and Information & Computational Science departments can be part of the team.

The applicant for this senior post should have a proven track record in winning and delivering projects as well as good communication skills. The post holder will help to unite existing aspects of our work to oversee the operational delivery of the Institute’s developing research agenda in meeting the challenges of the climate crisis by focussing on low energy drinking-/waste- water systems.  They would be expected to lead research, initiate and manage existing projects and engage with experts within academia to establish strong consortia for proposals in support of future research through competitively won income. This will also require liaison with key stakeholders (e.g. from the water industry and regulatory authorities) and management of projects, finances and staff and to develop the portfolio of national and international activities.

This post will be based in Aberdeen; there will be a requirement for occasional national and international travel.

An enhanced salary is available for exceptional candidates who can clearly demonstrate their ability to make an immediate impact. The ideal candidate should be able to articulate how their skills and experiences add value to the research undertaken at the institute to deliver tangible benefits in meeting the climate crisis.

We would be keen to learn how your personal skills, experience and attributes could add value to current and new research in this exciting area.

More information can be found below in the person specification.


Essential Qualifications

  • Engineering Degree with suitable chartered status 
  • Educated to at least degree level, preferably M.Eng) with a chemical/environmental engineering bias
  • A chartered Member of a recognised engineering/environmental institution (i.e. CEng/IEng or CEnv)

Desirable Qualifications

  • PhD in waste-water management research or related topic to the post

Essential Experience

  • Understanding of water and wastewater treatment technologies; an interest in developing and/or exploiting new and emerging technologies and techniques
  • Successful development of tender/specification documents for Water and Wastewater projects
  • Project management experience
  • Experience of leading research teams and developing researchers in the area
  • Preparing project budgets and working with Contract teams
  • A well-developed understanding of the design process
  • An ability to manage and mentor teams and/or individuals and/or projects, potentially split across disciplines, locations and stakeholders

Desirable Experience

  • Broad experience within the water and/or wastewater engineering sector
  • Managing multiple collaborative research projects
  • Academic experience commensurate with salary of published technical science and supervision of post-grad students
  • Working with academic/industrial partners
  • Engagement with social scientists in the design, development of waste or drinking water treatment systems
  • General knowledge of the main international challenges facing academics/industry in the water sector
  • General understanding of Scottish/International water policy

Essential Skills

  • Good people skills and proven ability to liaise with scientists, industry and policy makers
  • Ability to translate complex science into succinct reports
  • Proven ability to work to very tight timescales and manage competing demands
  • Proven ability to complete projects on time, within budget and to a high technical standard
  • Good organizational, planning and communication skills
  • Computer-literate and able to work effectively work with the basic Microsoft suite of programmes as a minimum

Desirable Skills

  • Willingness to contribute to and develop our technical knowledge networks

Other Skills

  • Driving License

We will not consider the use of 3rd party recruitment agencies for the sourcing of candidates for this position.   

The James Hutton Institute is an equal opportunity employer. We celebrate diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for all employees.

The James Hutton Institute is a: Stonewall Diversity Champion; Athena SWAN Bronze Status Holder; Disability Confident Committed Employer and a Living Wage Employer.