Statistical Modeller

College Health and Agricultural Sciences
 School Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science
Post Title Statistical Modeller
Project Sequencing Alliance for Food Environments (SAFE)
Post Duration Up to 3 years
Reports to Professor Séamus Fanning
HR Reference No. Completed by HR
HR Administrator Completed by HR

Position Summary

Commitment to a food safety culture is enhanced via collaboration with those that can deliver cutting edge science and data analysis to better inform the decision making steps required to fulfil regulatory requirements in the industry setting.  Currently, Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) to support food safety and/or quality measures is not a routine surveillance strategy practiced by the food industry generally.

The application of molecular-based surveillance to support food safety measures and improve food quality would enable the Irish food industry to make better business decisions, by further limiting risk to their consumers and providing the means to intelligently solve food quality challenges. Recent technological advances, in DNA sequencing protocols, have resulted in the emergence of so-called NGS techniques.

The SAFE research programme will specifically focus on the challenge of implementing next generation sequencing technology in food environments through the management of an active DNA sequencing pipeline as part of the development of a bespoke surveillance plan, along with the development of statistical models and software in collaboration with each of the food companies involved in the project.

The successful applicant will be tasked with developing predictive risk and quality assessment models based on whole genome sequencing and 16S rDNA metagenomic data generated from sampling carried out in food production facilities. The models will provide insights to food industry professionals on the molecular evolution and population dynamics of bacteria in food manufacturing facilities based on sampling data. Ultimately the models and data will be housed in a cloud-based software application for routine use. This role will link to others in the project through providing data to be analysed as a means of guiding the food safety management of the respective production environments.

Salary: €29,600 – €37,700 per annum

Appointment on the above range will be dependent on qualifications and experience

 Principal Duties and Responsibilities
  • Assist with a specified programme of research and scholarship under the supervision and direction of your Principal Investigator.
  • Develop and implement statistical models describing the behaviour of bacterial ecology in food manufacturing environments.
  • Engage in appropriate training and opportunities as required by your Principal Investigator, your School or Institute, or the University.
  • Engage in the dissemination of the results of the research in which you are engaged as directed by and with the support of and under the supervision of your Principal Investigator.
  • Engage in the wider research and scholarly activities of your research group, School and Institute.
  • Assist, as appropriate and as directed, the research graduate students in your group, School and Institute.
  • Carry out administrative work associated with your programme of research.
 Selection Criteria 

Selection criteria outline the qualifications, skills, knowledge and/or experience that the successful candidate would need to demonstrate for successful discharge of the responsibilities of the post.  Applications will be assessed on the basis of how well candidates satisfy these criteria.

·       MSc or PhD in Statistics/Biostatistics/Bioinformatics/Mathematics or related discipline, ideally with some knowledge of bacteriology/microbiology/genetics/biology. The role may also be of interest to a motivated individual from a physics or engineering background.

·       A demonstrated commitment to research and publications

  • Strong knowledge of statistics and statistical modelling techniques (regression, cluster analysis, classification)
  • Experience with a statistical/numerical programming language, such as R, Matlab, or Python and Linux/UNIX operating systems
  • Experience with a database language (SQL) and data manipulation skills
  • An understanding of the operational requirements for a successful research project
  • Excellent Communication Skills (Oral, Written , Presentation etc)
  • Excellent Organisational and Administrative skills including a proven ability to work to deadlines
  • A general working knowledge of the application of whole genome sequencing (WGS) as applied to bacteria
  • Basic knowledge of microbiome-based analyses and metagenomics

·       Experience with developing novel mathematical/statistical approaches

  • Experience in setting own research agenda
Further Information for Candidates 

Supplementary information

The University:

The College of Health and Agricultural Sciences:
The School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science:
Relocation Expenses
Will not apply
Will be applied in accordance with the UCD policy
Informal Enquiries ONLY to:
Name: Séamus Fanning
Title: Professor of Food Safety &Zoonoses
Email address:
Telephone: +353 -1-7162868

Eligibility to compete and certain restrictions on eligibility

(Relevant only to those with previous Irish Public Sector experience)

Incentivised Scheme for Early Retirement (ISER)

It is a condition of the Incentivised Scheme for Early Retirement (ISER) as set out in Department of Finance Circular 12/09 that retirees, under that Scheme, are debarred from applying for another position in the same employment or the same sector. Therefore, such retirees may not apply for this position.

Department of Health and Children Circular (7/2010)

The Department of Health Circular 7/2010 dated 1 November 2010 introduced a Targeted Voluntary Early Retirement (VER) Scheme and Voluntary Redundancy Schemes (VRS). It is a condition of the VER scheme that persons availing of the scheme will not be eligible for re-employment in the public health sector or in the wider public service or in a body wholly or mainly funded from public moneys. The same prohibition on re-employment applies under the VRS, except that the prohibition is for a period of 7 years, after which time any re-employment will require the approval of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. People who availed of either of these schemes are not eligible to compete in this competition.

Collective Agreement: Redundancy Payments to Public Servants

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform letter dated 28th June 2012 to Personnel Officers introduced, with effect from 1st June 2012, a Collective Agreement which had been reached between the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Public Services Committee of the ICTU in relation to ex-gratia Redundancy Payments to Public Servants. It is a condition of the Collective Agreement that persons availing of the agreement will not be eligible for re-employment in the public service by any public service body (as defined by the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Acts 2009 – 2011) for a period of 2 years from termination of the employment. Thereafter the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform will be required prior to re-employment. People who availed of this scheme and who may be successful in this competition will have to prove their eligibility (expiry of period of non-eligibility) and the Minister’s consent will have to be secured prior to employment by any public service body.


Applicants will be required to a Pre-Employment Declaration to confirm whether they have previously availed of a public service scheme of incentivised early retirement and/or the collective agreement outlined above. The above represents the main schemes and agreements restricting a candidate’s right to be re-employed in the public service. However it is not intended to be an exhaustive list and candidates should declare details of any other exit mechanism they have availed of which restricts their right to be re-employed in the public service. Applicants will also be required to declare any entitlements to a Public Service pension benefit (in payment or preserved) from any other Public Service employment and/or where they have received a payment-in-lieu in respect of service in any Public Service employment.

Superannuation and Retirement

The successful candidate will be offered the appropriate superannuation terms and conditions as prevailing in the University, at the time of being offered an appointment. In general, and except for candidates who have worked in a pensionable (non-single scheme terms) public service job in the 26 weeks prior to appointment (see paragraph d below), this means being offered appointment based on membership of the Single Public Service Pension Scheme (“Single Scheme”). Key provisions attaching to membership of the Single Scheme are as follows:

  1. Pensionable Age

The minimum age at which pension is payable is 66 (rising to 67 and 68) in line with State Pension age changes.

  1. Retirement Age:

Scheme members must retire at the age of 70.

  1. Pension Abatement

If the appointee was previously employed in the Civil Service or in the Public Service please note that the Public Service Pensions (Single Scheme and Other Provisions) Act 2012 includes a provision which extends abatement of pension for all Civil and Public Servants who are re-employed where a Public Service pension is in payment. This provision to apply abatement across the wider public service came into effect on 1 November 2012. This may have pension implications for any person appointed to this position who is currently in receipt of a Civil or Public Service pension or has a preserved Civil or Public Service pension which will come into payment during his/her employment in this position.

Department of Education and Skills Early Retirement Scheme for Teachers Circular 102/2007

The Department of Education and Skills introduced an Early Retirement Scheme for Teachers. It is a condition of the Early Retirement Scheme that with the exception of the situations set out in paragraphs 10.2 and 10.3 of the relevant circular documentation, and with those exceptions only, if a teacher accepts early retirement under Strands 1, 2 or 3 of this scheme and is subsequently employed in any capacity in any area of the public sector, payment of pension to that person under the scheme will immediately cease. Pension payments will, however, be resumed on the ceasing of such employment or on the person’s 60th birthday, whichever is the later, but on resumption, the pension will be based on the person’s actual reckonable service as a teacher (i.e. the added years previously granted will not be taken into account in the calculation of the pension payment).


Please note that where an individual has retired from a Civil/Public Service body on the grounds of ill-health his/her pension from that employment may be subject to review in accordance with the rules of ill-health retirement within the pension scheme of that employment.

  1. Prior Public Servants

While the default pension terms, as set out in the preceding paragraphs, consist of Single Scheme membership, this may not apply to certain appointees. Full details of the conditions governing whether or not a public servant is a Single Scheme member are given in the Public Service Pensions (Single Scheme and other Provisions) Act 2012. However the key exception case (in the context of this competition and generally) is that a successful candidate who has worked in a pensionable (non-single scheme terms) capacity in the public service within 26 weeks of taking up appointment, would in general not become a member of the Single Scheme. In this case such a candidate would instead be offered membership of the UCD Pension Scheme. This would mean that the abatement provisions at (c) above would apply, and in addition there are implications in respect of pension accrual as outlined below:

  1. Pension Accrual

A 40-year limit on total service that can be counted towards pension where a person has been a member of more than one existing public service pension scheme would apply. This 40-year limit, which is provided for in the Public Service Pensions (Single Scheme and other Provisions) Act 2012 came into effect on 28 July 2012. This may have implications for any appointee who has acquired pension rights in a previous public service employment.

  1. Pension-Related Deduction

This appointment is subject to the pension-related deduction in accordance with the Financial Emergency Measure in the Public Interest Act 2009.

For further information in relation to the Single Public Service Pension Scheme for Public Servants please see the following website: