Research Associates (x2) – Digital Twins for Communities and Healthy Cities, ASG Ecosystems of Digital Twins CTP

Alan Turing Institute London United Kingdom
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Company Description

The Alan Turing Institute is the UK’s national institute for data science and artificial intelligence. The Institute is named in honour of the scientist Alan Turing and its mission is to make great leaps in data science and artificial intelligence research in order to change the world for the better.


This post has specific responsibility for digital twins of urban and regional systems, for example in relation to transport and mobility, land use planning, retail and service delivery. You will be working as part of a group of 15-20 full-time data scientists in the Turing Urban Analytics Programme, and as part of a community of around 80 Turing Fellows, academic project leaders and postgraduates with shared interests in this field. You will report to Professor Mark Birkin as Director of the Turing Urban Analytics programme and lead investigator for the ASG (Urban Digital Twin) theme.

The Urban Digital Twin is under development in partnership with stakeholders in a variety of government departments, local authorities and business partners. We expect the successful applicant to engage with stakeholders, either directly or through colleagues with responsibilities in this area, and to look for opportunities to focus on specific datasets and problems. We envisage that the Department for Transport and Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will be particularly important stakeholders.

The post is funded through the UKRI AI for Science and Government programme. This is a five year, £40 million investment to stimulate growth in the national research base for artificial intelligence and data science. As part of the ongoing development of this programme, Turing is creating a new team of 8-10 researchers on the theme of Ecosystems of Digital Twins. The ambition of this theme is to promote applications of the digital twin concept in multiple contexts ranging from manufacturing, supply chains, economies and cities, and to develop common mathematical foundations and connections across such diverse ecosystems.


The research associates will work closely with the project investigators based at The Alan Turing Institute with the aim:

  • To take initiatives in the planning and execution of research;
  • To identify and develop suitable techniques, and apparatus, for the development and implementation of the exiting programmes;
  • To conduct data analysis;
  • To ensure the validity and reliability of data at all times;
  • To maintain accurate and complete records of all findings;
  • To undertake any training and or professional development;
  • To prepare material for presentation in oral and poster formats;
  • To draft publications and prepare them for submission to refereed journals;
  • To write and publish articles in peer-reviewed journals/digests that highlight findings from research ensuring consistency with the highest standards of academic publication and showcasing the Institute’s research leadership;
  • To contribute to writing bids for research grants;
  • To provide guidance to staff and students;
  • To supervise practical work and advise students on techniques;
  • To take responsibility for organising resources and effective decision making in support of research;
  • To attend relevant workshops and conferences as necessary;
  • To develop contacts and research collaborations within the Institute and the wider community;
  • Teaching and related activities may be required as part of collaboration work;
  • To work in close co-operation with the principal investigator and collaborators on the project;
  • To provide regular updates on progress to the team;
  • To undertake appropriate administration tasks;
  • Support the Principal Investigator and research group in the design and development of the research programme.


  • Develop a thorough understanding of the state of the art in data science approaches to Urban Analytics, in particular the representation of the city as a digital twin;
  • dentify, curate and where necessary acquire datasets relating to urban and regional environments;
  • Perform advanced spatial analysis e.g. GWR, spatial autocorrelation, geodemographic analysis;
  • Develop and apply modelling techniques e.g. agent-based simulation, spatial interaction models, microsimulation;
  • Explore the application of AI algorithms including machine learning, data assimilation
  • Work in partnership with software developers and mathematicians elsewhere in the team to develop, test and apply new methods
  • Write your own code and deploy via github or similar environments to promote open science;
  • Disseminate your findings to the group, at conferences, workshops and learned journals;
  • Work with stakeholders both internally and externally to articulate, agree and implement solutions to relevant problems;
  • Presentation of data through reports, presentations and dashboards.



  • Research associate level: Holds a PhD or equivalent level of professional qualification in geography or a related discipline;
  • Research assistant level: Near completion of a PhD or equivalent level of professional qualification in geography or a related discipline;
  • Understanding, knowledge and previous experience in the use of spatial data sets e.g. census of population, road networks, sensors or satellite imagery;
  • Experience of mapping information through a GIS or equivalent technology;
  • Broad knowledge of spatial statistics and analytical methods;
  • If no previous software development experience, then willingness and some evidence of aptitude to develop these skills;
  • Excellent written communication skills, including the ability to write for publication, present research proposals and results, and represent the research group at meetings;
  • Adapts the style of communication to the audience and ensures understanding;
  • Ability to communicate complex, specialist or conceptual information clearly and persuasively, presenting compelling arguments to influence and/or negotiate satisfactory outcomes;
  • Ability to work with others, especially postdocs,research assistants and PhD students;
  • Ability to direct the work of a small research team and motivate others to produce a high standard of work;
  • Works across the organisation and externally in order to influence developments, promote, market and build a reputation which generates benefits for the organisation as a whole;
  • Networks with others with shared interests, collaborating on projects and strengthening future e relations;
  • Leads and develops internal networks, such as working groups or committees in order to deliver collaborative and cross functional projects or initiatives;
  • A proven ability to collaborate successfully in a multidisciplinary environment and to manage delivery of projects;
  • Ability to organise and prioritise own work with minimal supervision;
  • Ability to carry out original research and to produce published research papers;
  • Previous experience of conducting studies of related literature and research to support the design and implementation of projects;
  • Previous experience and ability of developing reports, ensuring conceptual relevance, comprehensiveness, and currency of information;
  • Ability to identify, develop and apply new concepts, techniques and methods;


  • Previous experience of an appropriate statistical package such as Stata, SPSS or Matlab;
  • Software development skills in Python, R or an advanced programming language (e.g. C++);
  • Some previous experience of spatial modelling e.g. ABM, spatial interaction models or microsimulation an advantage;
  • Basic knowledge and understanding of AI and machine learning;
  • Ability to encourage research culture in others;
  • Experience in cross-disciplinary academic collaboration;
  • Experience in interacting with policy-makers and translating data-driven findings into meaningful insights and policy-focused reports;
  • Creative approach to problem solving;
  • Ability to delilver routine lectures or training on a regular basis where content is standard or provided by someone else. Assesses learners’ progress and provides feedback during the event.

Other Requirements

  • Commitment to meeting deadlines
  • Flexible attitude towards work
  • Commitment to EDI principles and to the Organisation values

Other information

These full-time post is offered on a fixed-term basis for two years. The annual salary is £35,000 to £41,000 plus excellent benefits, including flexible working and family friendly policies

Candidates who have not yet been officially awarded their PhD will be appointed as Research Assistant within the salary range £32,000-£34,000 per annum.

This job description is written at a specific time and is subject to change as the demands of the Institute and the role develop. The role requires flexibility and adaptability and the post holder needs to be aware that they may be asked to perform tasks and be given responsibilities not detailed in this job description.


If you are interested in this opportunity, please register on the applicant portal and complete the application form including your CV, covering letter and contact details for your referees. If you have questions about the role or would like to apply using a different format, please contact them on 0203 862 3575 or 0203 862 3340, or email


The Alan Turing Institute is committed to creating an environment where diversity is valued and everyone is treated fairly. In accordance with the Equality Act, we welcome applications from anyone who meets the specific criteria of the post regardless of age, disability, ethnicity, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

Reasonable adjustments to the interview process will be made for any candidates with a disability.

Please note all offers of employment are subject to continuous eligibility to work in the UK and satisfactory pre-employment security screening which includes a DBS Check.

Full details on the pre-employment screening process can be requested from