United Nations University Job Vacancy: Research Officer - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Research Officer

POSITION: Personnel Service Agreement
LOCATION: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
CLOSING DATE: Open until position is filled

Organizational Unit: UNU International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH)

United Nations University objectives:
The United Nations University (UNU) is an international community of scholars engaged in research, postgraduate teaching and capacity development, and dissemination of knowledge in furtherance of the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. The mission of UNU is to contribute, through research and capacity building, to efforts to resolve the pressing global problems that are the concern of the United Nations and its Member States.

UNU International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH):
UNU-IIGH undertakes research, teaching and capacity development, and dissemination of knowledge related to key issues of human health. It aims to contribute to the development and strengthening of health policy frameworks and management actions, particularly for people in developing countries, and to support implementation of promotive and preventive approaches to human health. UNU-IIGH embraces an eco-social view of health that recognises its origins in ecological, economic, and social contextual factors, and adopts a systems approach to understanding and addressing health challenges. For more information, please visit http://iigh.unu.edu.

Cardiff University, Sustainable Places Research Institute (CU-PLACE):

Founded in 2010, CU-PLACE is an internationally recognised multidisciplinary research institute which progresses sustainability science for more sustainable places. It operates across all three colleges of Cardiff University, and brings together leading researchers at Cardiff University in the environmental field with a commitment to place-based solutions and innovation. As a key meeting place for researchers and stakeholders, CU-PLACE examines the interdependencies and trade-offs between key resource sectors, such as energy, food, water, and waste, while working with place-based community, business, environmental, and governance interests to find solutions and adaptations to the challenges of diminishing resources and a changing climate.

Newton-Ungku Omar Fund:
On 5 December 2013, the UK Chancellor announced the creation of an Emerging Powers Research and Innovation Fund of £375 million over 5 years to support science and innovation partnerships with emerging powers. The fund forms part of the UK’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment, and its primary focus is to develop partner countries’ research and innovation capacity for long-term sustainable growth. The fund covers three broad categories of activity: (i) People: capacity building, people exchange and joint centres; (ii) Programmes: research collaborations on development topics; and (iii) Translation: innovation partnerships. Under the Newton-Ungku Omar Fund in Malaysia, the British Council, as one of several UK delivery partners working with the Higher Education International Unit, is aiming to run programmes in the “People” strand of Newton, in partnership with the Malaysian Industry–Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT) as part of the Science to Action (S2A) initiative undertaken by the Government of Malaysia.

Project: Systems Thinking and Place-based Methods for Healthier Malaysian Cities (SCHEMA):

Cities are now the dominant human habitat, with more influence than ever on economies, environments, and health. Despite progress, intractable urban health problems persist — often the unintended consequences of decisions in other sectors. These problems carry substantial costs and are unevenly distributed. Unravelling urban complexity requires systems approaches grounded in a social-ecological understanding of health. In illuminating linkages between health and physical and social environments, such work can lead to healthier, greener, more equitable cities.

This project is funded by Newton-Ungku Omar Fund and joins partners with expertise in systems and place-based methods, urban planning, and public health to examine urban health in Malaysia. It will apply such methods to catalyse and inform urban decision-making for local health and environment goals, while developing local research capacity. In particular, two workshops will focus on 1) green infrastructure and 2) urban food as they relate to urban health.

The research officer will contribute to workshops and other research-related project goals during a one-year term, spending nine months at UNU-IIGH in Kuala Lumpur and three months at CU-PLACE in Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom. He or she will work with and learn from global experts in urban health and sustainability and gain valuable connections to global and regional research and policy networks.

Under the authority and guidance of the Director of UNU-IIGH and working under the direct supervision of the Project Leads at UNU-IIGH and CU-PLACE, the Research Officer will:

  • Assist in planning, organising, and implementing a transdisciplinary workshop for about 30 researchers, policymakers, and urban practitioners
  • Carry out original research using systems methods and/or place-based approaches on urban health in relation to a relevant aspect of urban food systems
  • Attend project meetings and participate in institutional seminars at UNU-IIGH and CU-PLACE
  • Contribute to the design of a website and other outreach tools for the project, including social media communications and media messages
  • Design and use evaluation tools to measure the effectiveness of transdisciplinary engagement during workshops and through other project activities
  • Assist in the design and production of educational materials to promote the uptake of effective systems thinking and place-based strategies to improve urban health
  • Publish findings in international peer-reviewed journals
  • Produce a final report summarising project activities upon completion of term
  • Perform other relevant duties as assigned
Required qualifications and experience

Required qualifications and experience include:

  • Completion of doctoral-level degree in an area of research related to the project; potential areas include, but are not limited to, public health, urban planning, epidemiology, nutrition, architecture, civil engineering, environmental studies, systems analysis, public policy, and governance
  • Current knowledge of urban health research in relation to food systems or a related theme
  • History of successful publication in international peer-reviewed journals
  • Excellent communication skills in spoken and written English
  • Strong interpersonal skills, including the ability to work in a multicultural, multi-ethnic environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity
  • Ability to travel overseas (i.e., to the United Kingdom) for work
Desirable qualifications and experience

Desirable qualifications and experience include:

  • Prior work experience in an international organisation
  • Experience in planning and organising events and/or multidisciplinary workshops
  • Experience in building and strengthening academic and non-academic networks
  • Familiarity with website design and management
  • Graphic design skills
  • Experience with social media outreach
  • Experience with designing and developing teaching materials

Remuneration will commensurate with qualifications and experience.

Duration of contract:
This is full-time employment on a Personnel Service Agreement (PSA) with UNU-IIGH. Initial appointment will be for one (1) year, with the possibility of renewal subject to satisfactory work performance. The combined duration of appointments shall not exceed six (6) years.

This is a locally recruited post; no relocation allowance applies. Eligibility is limited to Malaysian citizens. The successful candidate will be employed under a local contract and will not hold international civil servant status nor be a ‘staff member’ as defined in the UN Staff Rules and Regulations.

Starting date:

This post is available from May 1st, 2016.

Application Details:
Interested applicants should submit their applications, preferably by e-mail to recruit.iigh@unu.edu; applications must include the following:

  • A cover letter explaining how their qualifications and experience match the requirements of the position
  • A curriculum vitae with a completed and signed UNU Personal History (P.11) form; please avoid using similar forms provided by other United Nations organisations
  • A short (1-2 page) writing sample demonstrating the applicant’s ability to produce high-quality scientific text in English
The application should indicate the reference number (2017/UNU/IIGH/PSA/RO/11) of the vacancy announcement.

Closing Date: 24 March 2017