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USFS Fellowship for Social Science Approaches to Assess Ecosystem Benefits in the Pacific Northwest: Summer Positions

We seek two (2) social science research fellows to participate in projects to develop a science-based approach to gather public input on values, preferences, and needs for national forest lands. In each case, we seek to understand public perceptions of priority ecosystem benefits on the national forest and drivers of change that affect their ability to render those benefits from landscapes. This will be done through participatory activities that ask people to identify their benefit preferences and then use maps to indicate places on the national forest that they visit or use to gain those benefits. The project involves collaborating with the science lead and forest officials to help collect, analyze, and disseminate social science information.

Project planning is underway in collaboration with national forest officials. We are actively engaged in scheduling of public sessions to be held in the summer and fall of 2023. We are beginning to prepare research tools with input from forest officials, staff from the NW Climate Hub, California Climate Hub, USFS ecologists engaged in postfire restoration, community leaders, and project partners.

Duties: The research analysts will engage in this process by working together and with the lead scientist to:

  • Conduct literature reviews on (a) social science of postfire restoration; (b) public engagement for forest and wildfire planning;
  • Develop and test research instruments and adapt based on pilot feedback
  • Prepare materials and supplies for public engagement sessions
  • Travel to and with data collection in public workshops on site (Oregon and California)
  • Learn to establish database and practice data management skills
  • Apply skills in qualitative and quantitative data analysis
  • Summarize study results in reports and help in the preparation of manuscripts, presentations, and other science dissemination outputs.

Skills Developed: The participants will build research skills, gain experience working as a research fellow for the U.S. Forest Service, gain experience working on a multi-disciplinary research team, learn about collaborative research, and further their professional development in the human dimensions of natural resource management.  There is potential for the work to be woven into a student thesis/project, or other student research, as desired (M.A. thesis or Ph.D. dissertation).

Qualifications: Following are the preferred qualifications for the candidate:

  • Have or currently enrolled in a MA or PhD degree program in a social science-related field
  • Background in qualitative and/or quantitative research methods
  • Experience analyzing data in Excel
  • Some knowledge of natural resource management issues in the U.S. West (including fire)
  • Experience with literature reviews and synthesis
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Knowledge of GIS or spatial analysis would be especially helpful, not required.

Stipend and Hiring Authority: $35/hour. The position will be hired through the graduate or recent graduate fellowship program of the U.S. Department of Energy ORISE program:

Supervisor: Dr. Lee Cerveny, Research Social Scientist, PNW Research Station

Location: Flexible. Candidate can work at mutually agreed site, including home or university office. Office space is available at one of the PNW Research Station facilities (Seattle, Olympia, Corvallis, Wenatchee, LaGrande) and other spaces as negotiated.  Some travel to study sites in Washington, Oregon or northern California would be expected and travel costs are covered by this agreement.

Dates: Flexible.  May – September (ideal) with potential to extend to December.  Mix of full & part-time work possible to accommodate academic calendar, as needed.

Hours: Work hours are negotiable and may fluctuate depending on project needs and candidate schedules.  Hours can be adjusted to accommodate academic schedules.  We anticipate about 15 hours/week on a regular basis, with closer to 40 hours/week in summer months.

Apply: Please send a cover letter, CV, and names and contact information for two references to Lee Cerveny: [email protected]  by April 28, 2023. Positions will remain open until filled.