Education and training


Participants in capacity-building activities by member (blue) and non-member (orange) countries. Click to view participants.

Young Scientists Summer Program

For three months every summer, the flagship Young Scientists Summer Program (YSSP) provides an opportunity for PhD students to work alongside IIASA researchers. During the program, each participant is required to prepare a research paper. Many of these papers are published in prestigious journals. Since 1977, over 2,090 early-career researchers from over 90 countries have benefitted from the program. The 2020 program, which was held virtually for the first time, hosted 25 participants from 18 countries.

2020 YSSP Awards

IIASA has instituted two annual awards for exceptional young scientists participating in the YSSP. The Peccei Award is awarded in recognition of rigorous research that makes a policy contribution, while the Mikhalevich Award is given to students who use mathematical tools to solve realworld questions. The recipients of these awards return to IIASA for another three months.

Setu Pelz from the Europa Universität Flensburg, Germany and Johns Hopkins University, USA received the Peccei Award for his study: “Impacts of grid electricity access on rural non-farm entrepreneurship and employment in Ethiopia and Nigeria”.

Bernardo Buarque from University College Dublin (UCD), Ireland, won the Mikhalevich Award for his study: “Evolving the knowledge space: Towards a selection dynamics model of patent classes”.

An honorable mention went to Janet Molina Maturano from Ghent University, Belgium, for her study on: “Responsible scaling of citizen science projects for farmers: Developing a SDGs-guided toolkit.”

An honorable mention was also awarded to Simon Plakolb from the Technical University and the University of Graz in Austria, for his study on: “Using the Future State Maximization paradigm to analyze the emergence of socially sub-optimal mobility behavior”.

Postdoc program

Postdoc opportunities at IIASA allow early career scientists to research a topic related to the institute’s scientific agenda and hone their skills in systems analysis. Recognizing the expanding number of external funders wishing to partner with IIASA to support postdocs at the institute, in 2020 IIASA primarily focused its postdoctoral activities on these partnerships.

These programs are an effective way for NMOs and other interested institutions to increase the number of its nationals who are postdocs at IIASA, and to develop expertise in systems analysis among its researchers. In 2020, IIASA had bilateral programs with the Brazilian Federal Agency for Support and Evaluation of Graduate Education (CAPES); Peking University, China; Israel; the National Research Foundation of the Republic of Korea; the Fonds du Recherche de Quebec, Canada; and the Natural Environment Research Council, UK.

In 2020, there were a total of 19 postdocs at IIASA.

Building systems analysis expertise

In 2020, IIASA scientists hosted or coordinated 76 events at IIASA, worldwide and increasingly virtually, including a number of workshops and activities designed to build capacity in systems analysis. Examples include:

  • A workshop to train researchers from China, Egypt, Israel, and Japan in using MESSAGEix—a framework for medium- to long-term energy system planning, energy policy analysis, and scenario development.
  • An expert meeting of 18 partners from Scandinavia, the Mediterranean, the UK, and Austria to find solutions to pollution caused by shipping.
  • An expert dialogue to explore research needs for informing China’s mid- and long-term development, energy, and environmental strategies with the Energy Foundation China, and University of Maryland, USA.
  • A training workshop on the GAINS model—a scientific tool to combat air pollution and climate change simultaneously—for researchers from India.