CIRES/Earth Lab Post-Doc to Understand Disturbance Dynamics: from Trees to Ecoregions

Job description

Areas of Intereset: Research
Functional Areas: Research Institutes and Labs
Department: Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES)
Requisition Number: 13902
Location: Boulder, Colorado
Employment Type: Research Faculty
Schedule: Full-Time

Job Summary

Earth Lab, funded by the University of Colorado Boulder’s "Grand Challenge: Our Space, Our Future" and part of CIRES, seeks post-doctoral researchers to join a dynamic team pushing the frontiers of coupled Earth and social system science (

The target research area "to Understand Disturbance Dynamics: from Trees to Ecoregions" represents Earth Lab’s efforts to explore natural and social system vulnerability and resilience to global environmental change, while also capitalizing of the diversity of data available to generate new insights.

Earth Lab seeks a Post-Doctoral Associate who can advance a research agenda around scaling observations from trees to ecoregions to understand disturbance dynamics in western U.S. forests. The research goal of this project is to advance our understanding of some aspect of forest dynamics (e.g., carbon stocks, productivity, diversity, or resilience) after disturbance (e.g., wildfires, beetle-kill, drought, land use/cover change, or other) using cutting-edge technologies or sensors, machine learning approaches, and/or data harmonization techniques. Key research questions include: 1) how do compound disturbances alter forest dynamics and potentially lead to state transitions; 2) how does functional diversity change in response to disturbance; or 3) how do carbon stocks recover after different types and combinations of disturbance? Novel approaches to these questions could include: 1) use of machine learning approaches to derive species- or individual tree-level information from remote sensing data (e.g., LiDAR, hyperspectral, or other data source from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), airborne, or satellite platforms); 2) scaling across observations from these platforms and other sources to understand forest dynamics (e.g., use of NEON data coupled with other sources); 3) experience working with data from or based on recently launched or forthcoming missions (e.g., GEDI, ECOSTRESS, Planet, or other) that capture information about disturbance and forest response; or 4) novel uses of longer-term satellite-based records (e.g., Landsat, MODIS, or other) that provide new insights about disturbance and forest response. The desired applicant would ideally have experience in one or more of these approaches; and note that Earth Lab is building out capabilities in science applications of UAVs with IRISS ( The Niwot Ridge Long-term Ecological Research program ( and NEON field site (, at the university’s Mountain Research Station (an hour west of Boulder), will provide a potential base to test some of these approaches through existing partnerships.

Who We Are

At CIRES, the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, more than 800 environmental scientists work to understand the dynamic Earth system, including people’s relationship with the planet. CIRES is a partnership of NOAA and the University of Colorado Boulder, and our areas of expertise include weather and climate, changes at the Earth’s poles, air quality and atmospheric chemistry, water resources, and solid Earth sciences. Our vision is to be instrumental in ensuring a sustainable future environment by advancing scientific and societal understanding of the Earth system.

Earth Lab Joins CIRES on its 2nd Anniversary

Earth Lab will capitalize on the data deluge from space and other platforms to accelerate science; reduce environmental risk by using these data to better understand and predict Earth System change; and train a new generation of earth analytic scientists to address outstanding Earth Science questions.

Earth Lab Grand Challenge video

What Your Key Responsibilities Will Be

We are particularly interested in how our understanding of disturbance processes scales with individual tree-level information to entire ecoregions. The specific work will be determined in collaboration with the successful applicant, based on skills and interest area. The application cover letter should reflect the applicant’s thoughts on how to build a research focus that builds on these ideas and capitalizes on their past experience.

What You Should Know

This Post-Doctoral Associate position is funded for one year, with the possibility of a second year extension, depending on available funding.

CIRES commits to inclusive excellence by advancing equity and diversity in all that we do. We are an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity employer, and encourage applications from members of historically underrepresented racial/ethnic groups, women, individuals with disabilities, veterans, LGBTQ community members, and others who demonstrate the ability to help us achieve our vision of a diverse and inclusive community.

What We Can Offer

We can offer a competitive salary, commensurate with experience.


The University of Colorado offers excellent benefits, including medical, dental, retirement, paid time off, tuition benefit and ECO Pass. The University of Colorado Boulder is one of the largest employers in Boulder County and offers an inspiring higher education environment. Learn more about the University of Colorado Boulder.

Be Statements

Be Ambitious. Be Impactful. Be Boulder.

What We Require

  • Doctoral degree in natural or social sciences related to the Earth Lab research themes, geography, ecology, environmental studies, forestry, or other.

What You Will Need

  • Background expertise in and theoretical understanding of disturbance dynamics in forest systems.
  • Applicant must have demonstrated interest and skills in one or more of the approaches described above (e.g., machine learning approaches, use of UAV-derived data/remote sensing data, data integration across multiple sources, etc.)
  • The ability to work as part of an interdisciplinary team.
  • Demonstrated contributions to open science (i.e., publicly available and/or reproducible data, code, workflows, and/or tools) or willingness to contribute to open science.
  • Experience in integrating and analyzing large, and/or heterogeneous datasets.
  • Demonstrated publication and grant-writing skills.
  • Team spirit and interest in interdisciplinary settings, with a willingness to engage with Earth Lab’s Analytics Hub and Education Initiative teams.

What We Would Like You To Have

  • Experience in working with a high performance computing or cloud computing environment is a plus.

Special Instructions

To apply, please submit the following materials:

  1. Resume/CV.
  2. Cover letter.
  3. Proof of degree in either a transcript confirming highest degree or a copy of diploma.
  4. List of contact information for 3 references who would be willing to write a recommendation letter if you are selected as one of the top candidates.
  • If you are selected as one of the top candidates, we will contact you through email and request that you submit the names and emails of the references who we will then ask to submit a letter of recommendation (can be the 3 noted above). This information will be kept confidential and viewable only the search committee.

Screening of applicants will begin immediately, and full consideration will be given to applications received by November 16, 2018. However, the position will remain open until filled.

The start date will be January 1, 2019.

Posting Contact Name: Nancy Lathrop

Posting Contact Email: [email protected]

The University of Colorado is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer





Diversity Profile: University



View more

Learn more on Inside Higher Ed's College Page for University

Arrow pointing right
Job No:
Posted: 11/10/2018
Application Due: 11/11/2018
Work Type: