Young Summer Scientist Program (YSSP)

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 and directed by current and future decision makers.

The provision of adequate energy services is a precondition for socioeconomic development and human wellbeing. 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 is pioneering 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 specific energy technologies for mitigating climate change.  There is specifically interest in concentrating solar power (CSP), shale oil/gas, and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (CCS).
  • Developing tools and methods for assessing energy security or national energy capacities under different energy scenarios through either qualitative (e.g. policy and discourse analysis) or quantitative (e.g. cluster-analysis or game-theoretical approaches) analysis.
  • In conjunction with the ESM program, modeling the food-water-energy 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.
  • Improving the representation of demand-side technologies in the context of integrated assessment modeling, including the role of consumer choice and behavioral change in energy transitions.
  • Understanding policies, institutions, and other factors that contribute to the adoption and sustained use of modern energy carriers and technologies in developing countries.
  • Improving the representation of spatial and socio-economic 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 socio-economic groups.

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.

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Last edited: 10 November 2016


Keywan Riahi

Program Director


Senior Research Scholar

Transitions To New Technologies

T +43(0) 2236 807 491

David McCollum

Research Scholar


T +43(0) 2236 807 586

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