Seeking: Postdoctoral Research Associate in Landscape Ecology

In Brief:

Post-doc, co-sponsored by Smithsonian Institution and Harvard Forest, will advance research into scenario and simulation modeling of land use and private/public ownership patterns as they impact the biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Blue Ridge Region of Virginia.

Work Location:

The post-doc will be based at Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) in Front Royal, VA and work in William McShea’s Conservation Ecology Lab. In close collaboration with: Thomas Akre, SCBI; Jonathan Thompson, Harvard

Job Duties:

A postdoctoral position conducting original research on the role of landuse and biodiversity in conservation planning in 15-county region around research center, including: researching regional-scale ecological consequences of diverse land uses including development, agriculture, ranching, public forest management, conservation easements, and alternative development patterns; working with stakeholder groups and social scientists to articulate plausible alternative future trajectories of forest, farm, and developed land use; simulating landscape dynamics and changes in ecosystem processes and services under alternative scenarios of land use and climate change using landscape simulation models; collaborating with the PIs to publish results in high-impact scientific outlets; and collaborating with regional NGOs such as Virginia Working
Landscapes, Piedmont Environmental Council, Shenandoah Park Trust, and The Nature Conservancy to maximize the application and impact of the research.

Required Qualifications:

Ph.D. (awarded by start date) in landscape ecology, geography, or related field; Capable of conducting complex spatial
analyses (e.g. landscape simulation, GIS, remote sensing, and spatial statistics); Skilled at scripting using the R and/or Python programming languages; Evidence of strong scholarship, including peer-reviewed publications; Proven ability to plan and conduct independent research projects from beginning to end.

Preferred Experience:

Research within coupled human-natural systems; quantifying ecosystem services and geographically explicit trade-offs;
identifying key ecological attributes that are measurable and relevant to policy makers and landowners; working with stakeholders and social scientists to conduct policy relevant research and inform socio-ecological decision making; Experience with landscape scale simulation models such as LANDIS, VDDT/Stella, SLEUTH, Dinamica, SWAT, InVEST etc.


The initial appointment of one year is renewable for additional years based on performance. Start date would be May 2015, but is flexible for the right candidate. Smithsonian Institution is an internationally recognized center for basic and applied research in ecology, conservation and ecosystem studies, with 50 science staff. The SCBI facilities include a research and administrative complex, 3200 acres of land, and residential buildings (rental housing available onsite). SCBI is located in Front Royal, Virginia, a small rural town about 70 miles west of Washington DC, adjacent to the Shenandoah National Park and less than 10 miles from the George Washington National Forest. For more information, visit


$45,000 plus health insurance supplement through Smithsonian Institution.

To apply:

Send CV, PDFs of relevant publications, and the names and contact info for three references to William McShea: Review of application will start February 15.