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

Boulder, Colorado
Oct 25, 2018
Nov 24, 2018
Career Level
Education Level
Job Type
Relocation Cost
No Relocation
Sector Type

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. 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.

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.


  • 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.