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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - School of Business and Economics

We are looking for a highly motivated PhD Candidate for our research project:

Optimization and uncertainty in smart grids for smart cities in developing countries.

At the School of Business and Economics of the Humboldt University of Berlin we look for a PhD-track researcher for the duration of three years. The successful candidate will be financed through a doctoral scholarship to engage themself undisturbed into the research work. The work will be supervised by Prof. Dr. Dr. hc. Franz Hubert and Dr. Tatiana Grandón.

There is a need for investment for the electrification and mobility infrastructure of peri-urban and rural areas in developing countries. Effective approaches to this challenging task require planning and optimal operation of grid extension, decentralized renewables and transport-to-grid technology. The bidirectional flow of electricity from and into the micro-grids requires smart charging and logistics management of different generation equipment.

Uncertain parameters introduce significant complexity to the design of technologies and the dispatch processes. Given these uncertainties, decisions based on deterministic models entail a high risk of being suboptimal. Therefore, it is important that energy and transport management models account for the most relevant stochastic processes.

For this project, we will create an open source stochastic optimisation toolbox for smart grids and transport-to-grid technology with a focus on solutions for energy and transport deficits in developing countries. Results will be disseminated through publications in peer-reviewed journals and presentations at international conferences. To foster interaction and cooperation, the candidate is expected to get involved in seminars and documentation/teaching materials for the project.

Within the framework of this research project, the candidate is expected to start in winter semester 2021/2022. The PhD candidate is also encouraged to partake in a stay abroad during their doctoral education (of at least 6 months until one year) within the Universal Energy Lab in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston or at Comillas University in Madrid.

We are looking for a candidate with solid quantitative skills, strong programming skills and capacity in modelling applications to understand the broader socio-economic impact of energy development and electric mobility in rural communities. The search committee will consider candidates from various disciplines including economics, informatics, engineering, geography, or other relevant disciplines.

Our research on the construction and analysis of mathematical models related to energy management and engineering is fundamental and inspired by technical and societal challenges in developing countries. The candidate should be interested in learning to work with optimization problems with equilibrium constraints as well as with stochastic optimization algorithms. All of the foregoing will be conceived within a problem based learning (PBL) education for Postgraduates.


We are looking for an excellent candidate with the following qualifications, knowledge and skills:

  1. A Msc. degree in operations research, informatics, engineering or geography.

  2. Proficiency in at least two programming or AMPL modelling software (Python, R, GAMS).

  3. Basic knowledge of optimization and/or control theory with applications in economics or engineering.

  4. Demonstrated competence for quantitative modelling.

  5. Strong interest in interdisciplinary research and collaboration with NGOs and industries.

  6. Excellent verbal and written skills in English and German.

  7. Excellent interpersonal skills, as demonstrated through collaborative interdisciplinary interactions or community engagement.

  8. Ability to contribute directly to research and teaching programs in smart grids for smart rural communities.

All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply. In order to complete your application, please send your application with the subject line “PhD Smart Grids” to Dr. Tatiana Grandon at grandont (at) hu-berlin.de (cc. Maria Putignano maria.putignano (at) hu-berlin.de). Your application package must include:

  • CV;

  • One recommendation letter;

  • A motivation letter (max. one page);

  • A copy of your grades and transcripts form both undergrad and Master;

  • Copy of Master thesis (final) manuscript.

Application deadline: 15th of January 2021.


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