Young Scientist Summer Program (YSSP)

 (c) Ilfede |

(c) Ilfede |

The overall objective of the Energy Program (ENE) is to understand the nature of alternative future energy transitions, their implications for human well-being and the environment, and how they might be shaped by current and future decision makers.

The provision of adequate energy services is a precondition for socioeconomic development and human well-being. Yet, present energy systems face a number of major challenges, which need to be addressed urgently and simultaneously. These range from the lack of access to modern energy in impoverished parts of the world to environmental problems of climate change and air pollution as well as concerns with respect to security and resilience of present systems.

Taking a system’s perspective, the ENE Program has pioneered the application of new methodologies in the areas of integrated assessment, spatial and behavioral heterogeneity, multi-criteria analysis, energy technology assessments, and uncertainty and risk analysis. These methodologies are used in systematic and holistic scenario studies to assess the costs and benefits of the energy transformation.

ENE's research activities combine solution-oriented and policy-relevant research with exploratory and empirical analysis. The main areas of research comprise:

YSSP applications should be related to at least one of these fields. More specifically, ENE is looking for YSSP applicants interested in working on the following topics:  

  • Analyzing the linkages (including synergies and trade-offs) between energy and climate policy objectives, such as GHG mitigation and energy security, and broader sustainable development goals, such as alleviating energy poverty, improving air quality, maintaining food security, ensuring water availability, and increasing resilience to climate variability. Of high interest is how these complex relationships play out at different regional scales, from global to local.
  • Exploring the future role of transformative solutions for mitigating climate change and how to transition to a net-zero emissions society, including the policy incentives and investments to achieve these goals.  This includes negative emissions technologies (e.g. Bioenergy+CCS) and extends further to exploring game-changing societal trends and innovations that lead to fundamental transformations of demand, lifestyles and behavioral changes.
  • In conjunction with the ESM and WAT programs, modeling the water-energy-land nexus, including (a) assessing the impacts of bioenergy expansion on land-use and food production and (b) quantifying water use associated with future energy transitions, (c) coupled water-energy-land systems optimization modelling at the river basin scale.
  • Improving the representation and granularity of demand-side modelling in the context of integrated assessment modeling, including the roles of consumer choice and behavioral changes, and determining the energy gaps required to meet the SDGs provide people with decent living energy.
  • Understanding policies, institutions and the political economy of sustainable energy system transitions to better represent and model the feasibility of decarbonization pathways
  • Improving the representation of spatial and socioeconomic heterogeneity in energy models as a means to, for example, refine resource supply curves, quantify regional infrastructure requirements, and better understand energy demand and affordability across diverse socioeconomic groups.
  • Understanding the impacts of climate change on the energy system, both energy supply and demand, and considering both extreme events and long-term gradual changes. Furthermore, making stylized representation of these impacts in integrated assessment models and understanding the avoided impacts of decarbonization.
  • Exploring the prevalence and consequences of historical energy industry contractions in order to understand the feasibility as well as the social and political implications of the fossil fuel phase-out needed under the Paris climate target.

This list is not meant to be exhaustive and applicants are encouraged to suggest other research topics for the YSSP that fit into the Energy Program’s research agenda.

The MESSAGE model stands at the core of ENE’s modeling framework - developed for medium- to long-term energy system planning, energy policy analysis, and scenario development.

For candidates interested in applying to be a YSSP in the ENE Program, please read all the information, the conditions and eligibility and the FAQs. Furthermore, familiarize yourself with recent publications from the group to help guide your proposal development.

If you have further questions or are unsure who would be a suitable supervisor, please contact Edward Byers in the first instance with:

  • your CV
  • either a proposal abstract, or as a minimum bullet points on proposed research topic and how it aligns with ENE Program activities.

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Last edited: 22 October 2018


Edward Byers

Research Scholar


T +43(0) 2236 807 262

Keywan Riahi

Program Director


T +43(0) 2236 807 491

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313