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Posted: JobDeadline

The USDA Forest Service (USFS) is hiring a Postdoctoral Scholar to join a project investigating community-level adaptation to wildfire in the American West. The postdoctoral candidate position will work for the USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station with joint supervision from social scientists in the Evanston, IL and New York, NY locations. The position can be located in either duty station or remote/full telework. The postdoctoral scholar will work across several sites in the American West, researching communications about wildfire and associated communication networks for wildfire management in the American West. Focal areas of research include communications among actors about wildlife adaptation and mitigation practices, including examining beliefs and knowledge and how they vary among actors in wildlife communication networks.

The USFS seeks a quantitative social scientist or computer scientist with social science expertise, to lead data collection, analysis, scientific writing, and outreach activities. Working as part of the research team, the postdoc will apply big data, social media, and conventional media to rapidly characterize wildfire risk communications for priority landscapes. The postdoc will analyze wildfire risk communications with datasets acquired via AI, including topics (themes), and sentiments of groups, individuals, and communities. The postdoc will also gather social media datasets (e.g., Twitter, Reddit, etc.). Drawing on these big data and social media datasets, the postdoc will pilot web-crawler analysis to elicit organizational-level communication networks from groups’ websites. Additionally, this work will triangulate these data with conventional media sources. Overall, this work will analyze communications networks, identify key brokers, and characterize messages that are being transmitted about wildfire risk and mitigation. The postdoctoral researcher will also contribute to broader team efforts to integrate these datasets with information on adaptation and governance.

The postdoc will join a larger team of collaborators from the USFS, FilterLabs, Community Wildfire Planning Center, University of Colorado Denver, and Portland State University. Current United States citizenship is required.

Compensation will be between $69,107 and $92,279 annually depending on credentials and location. See GS Locality Pay tables here.

This is a two-year position. The start date is flexible; applicants who can start summer or fall 2023 will be considered.



  • PhD in relevant field - quantitative social sciences and/or computer science with social science expertise, social-ecological systems scientist, geographer, or social science of natural resource management (by anticipated start date)
  • Strong publication record (relative to timing of degree)
  • Familiarity with R and/or Python languages
  • Experience with natural language processing, text mining, network analysis, social media data analysis
  • Experience researching knowledge and communication networks and/or human dimensions of natural resource management


  • Interest/knowledge in climate change impacts, fire adaptation fire management, fire ecology, and/or prescribed fire
  • Experience with webcrawlers and other AI technology
  • Expertise in GIS (e.g., ArcGIS Pro, QGIS, R geospatial packages, python - geopandas, arcpy)
  • Familiarity with ShinyApps

If interested, email a CV, cover letter, writing sample, and contact information for 3 references to Dr. Michelle Johnson and Dr. Sonya Sachdeva .

In the cover letter, please detail research experience, fit for the position (including specific methodological skills and experience with each of the other required and preferred qualifications), and career goals following the position.

Review of applications will occur on a rolling basis starting July 1, 2023. The position will remain open until filled. Contact Dr. Michelle Johnson or Dr. Sonya Sachdeva with questions. Members of underrepresented racial or ethnic groups are highly encouraged to apply.