Background

The Alan Turing Institute and the Royal Statistical Society (RSS) are partnering on a programme of work to support the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC), which is part of NHS Test and Trace in the Department of Health and Social Care, by providing an independent source of statistical and mathematical modelling and machine learning expertise to address policy-relevant research questions through a series of projects. 

The Turing-RSS Lab are hereby advertising the opportunity for members of the academic community to conduct and lead the next research project. 

The successful team will be working with the Turing-RSS Lab to provide a deeper understanding of policy options and their potential impact in the COVID-19 response, hence the rapid nature of this open call. 

Topic

The next project will seek to understand the effect of various non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) on a range of outcomes (to be specified as the project executes). The ultimate research goal is to provide a deep understanding of the menu of policy options available to the government to help stop the spread of the virus.

Funding available

There is funding available (salary and on costs) for one Principal Investigator (suggested 0.2 FTE) and up to 1.0 FTE postdoctoral research assistant to conduct this project, on a six-month basis initially. The PI will also oversee an existing full-time postdoctoral research assistant already assigned to this project area.

Timeframe

The project team will be required to start by 1 March 2021 or earlier if possible, for an initial six month timeframe. 

There is a period of approximately four weeks for the onboarding process to enable access to the JBC Secure Research Environment. This will be in parallel to the completion of the secondment agreement. 

Brief summary of the research questions

  • What is the current state-of-the-art academic research in this area, in particular with respect to the different methodological approaches that have been taken?
  • What does this research tell us about the use of NPIs in the UK?
  • Can we quantify the effect of neighbouring Lower Tier Local Authority (LTLA) restrictions on a specified area?

What’s in it for you

  • The opportunity to do frontier research with direct impact on the UK pandemic management.
  • The opportunity to scope the research questions and project with input from The Alan Turing Institute, RSS and JBC.
  • Access to the JBC secure research environment with accompanying datasets from the UK’s Test and Trace system.
  • Be part of the Turing-RSS Statistical Modelling and Machine Learning Laboratory which provides independent research leadership to the Joint Biosecurity Centre within the Department of Health and Social Care.

Eligibility and required skills

  • The post-holders must be employed by a UK university, not limited to the Turing university partner network.
  • The post-holders must be based in the UK in order to access the JBC Secure Research Environment.
  • The post-holder will have a strong statistical background and experience in causal inference for population interventions, statistical methods, spatial statistics. Prior experience in assessment of the efficacy of non-pharmaceutical interventions would be advantageous.
  • Prior experience of leadership in the delivery of complex multi-partner projects and the ability to plan and organise work to meet externally driven project milestones.
  • Ability to work in an agile manner and deliver progress compatible with JBC fortnightly review of project advancement.
  • Research management experience – the post-holder would lead the day-to-day activity of postdoctoral researchers for this project.
  • The research team will benefit from the support of project management from within  the Turing’s Health and Medical Sciences Programme.

How to apply

Please note that applications have now closed.

  • A two-page CV and one-page cover letter from the Principal Investigator.
  • A statement of support from the applicable Head of Department to allow secondment to The Alan Turing Institute for this project (see terms and conditions below). Statement can be submitted up to a week after closing date. This is an administrative requirement only and will not be part of assessment criteria.
  • Information about the proposed postdoctoral support, ideally in the cover letter.
  • An indication of costs would be desirable.

Assessment criteria

All applications will be assessed by a multi-disciplinary panel, which includes the Turing-RSS Lab Directors, against the required eligibility skills highlighted above in addition to availability. 

The Turing is actively committed to promoting equality and diversity. 

Terms and conditions

  • The successful candidates will be seconded to Turing for the duration of this project, allowing them to access the JBC Secure Research Environment under the Data Access Agreement between The Alan Turing Institute and the Department for Health and Social Care. A secondment agreement will have to be formally put in place and no work on the project will be able to take place until the agreement is signed. As a secondment, funding will cover salary and on-costs only plus VAT if applicable. Payments will then be made on a quarterly basis.
  • Intellectual Property in all IPR Material will be the Property of The Alan Turing Institute. The Turing will grant the successful applicant’s employing University a non-exclusive, non-transferable, non-sub-licensable, royalty-free licence to use the Arising Intellectual Property for academic and non-commercial research purposes.
  • Turing is committed to designing and developing all algorithms in a transparent and reproducible manner, as well as sharing algorithms and methods publicly. 

Ways of working

  • The award team will be invited to weekly all-hands meetings within the Turing-RSS lab.
  • It is anticipated the project team will have stand-up meetings at least weekly.
  • The project team will share Sprint progress reports fortnightly.
  • It is anticipated all meetings will be undertaken virtually (Zoom & MS Teams).
  • Tools such as slack and GitHub will be available to the project team.

Find out more

If you have queries about this call please contact [email protected].