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Research Associate - Nitrate Transport Hydrogeologist

Wsconsin Geological and Natural History Survey
Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey, Madison, Wisconsin
$59,400 with UW Madison health care benefits
Closing date
Mar 30, 2023

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Seeking postdoctoral applicants for Wisconsin Water Resources Science-Policy Research Associate

The Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey (WGNHS), in partnership with the University of Wisconsin Water Resources Institute (WRI) and the University of Wisconsin Geoscience Department seek a postdoctoral research associate interested in tackling science and policy challenges related to groundwater management in Wisconsin. This position will provide a unique educational and career opportunity for a recent graduate who in interested both in groundwater resources and in the policy decisions affecting those resources in Wisconsin. This program places a recent doctoral graduate in the program full-time for a 1.5 year appointment from July 1, 2023 to December 31, 2024.  They will bring technical skills to benefit water issues and challenges and will receive valuable real-world science-policy experience from the resource professionals who will serve as mentors. This mutually beneficial partnership will result in advancing science to support policy decisions as well as valuable training opportunities for new professionals entering the work force.

The research associate will focus on the challenges associated with nitrate in groundwater by developing a predictive tool for forecasting nitrate levels in in groundwater and surface water in the Central Sands region of Wisconsin. The project will combine an extensive historical nitrate dataset, an agricultural ecosystem model that estimates nitrate leaching, and an existing regional groundwater model to create a calibrated nitrate transport model. The results of the model will provide a tool to be used to inform actions for the reduction in nitrate leaching and timing needed to improve groundwater quality in the Central Sands.  We seek applicants who can:

  • Apply their academic background, including course work or research experience, in groundwater flow and contaminant transport processes, application of numerical models, and evaluating uncertainty in results.
  • Work independently and in teams to develop, calibrate and apply three-dimensional groundwater flow and transport models using standard groundwater modeling packages such as MODFLOW, MT3D, GWVistas, and FloPy.
  • Conduct field work, such as reconnaissance surveys, data collection, and installation and maintenance of  groundwater sampling equipment at WGNHS research sites.
  • Compile and analyze hydrogeologic data, maintain project databases, document model development and application.
  • Prepare and edit project reports and manuscripts for publication.
  • Prepare and present project findings in person to a variety of audiences, including local government officials, regulators, scientists, and interested stakeholders.
  • Work cooperatively with WGNHS partners such as USGS, WDNR, and individuals from Wisconsin’s agricultural community.

This Research Associate will be primarily stationed at the WGNHS Mineral Point Office (3817 Minera Point Road) near the UW-Madison campus, with frequent meetings at the Geoscience Department on campus, and will be working with USGS researchers in addition to stakeholders and policy-makers in Wisconsin.  Opportunities to network with other postdoctoral fellows and research associates will be offered through the WRI.

More detail on the position is below. If you have any questions, please contact:

David Hart at or (608) 262-2307.

Application Deadline April 30, 2023


Any postgraduate who will have graduated between Spring 2020 and Spring 2023 with a PHD in hydrogeology, hydrology, or a related field is eligible to apply. Research Associates must have completed all degree requirements before starting the position.

Stipend and Expenses

Annual salary is $59,400 for this Research Associate position with additional benefits (see - Travel associated with the position will be covered.

Application Requirements

Application packages should be sent to at the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey and should include:

  1. A cover letter that describes your background and abilities, your expectations from the postdoctoral experience and how this experience fits with your career goals. (2 pages or fewer)
  2. Curriculum vitae with relevant educational, professional and volunteer experience. (no length limit)
  3. Copies of all official undergraduate and graduate student transcripts. Two letters of recommendation, including one from the applicant’s major professor; if no major professor exists, another faculty member at the same institution, familiar with your academic record, may be substituted. One to four writing samples, both formal and informal (e.g., journal articles or other technical documents such as project reports, project reports, popular articles, web resources, etc.)

Selection Process

WRI, Geoscience, USGS, and WGNHS staff will identify a short list of candidates for interviews. Interviews will be conducted by the same staff to determine the best fit for the position. It is expected that applicants will possess a strong hydrogeological sciences and modeling background, strong analytical skills, an ability to manage projects and work independently, and excellent written and verbal communication skills.

Length of Assignment

The length of assignment is for 1.5 years from an anticipated start of July 1, 2023 to December 31, 2024. This timeline may be adjusted to accommodate academic semester needs or the needs of the candidates or funding institutions.

Reporting and Other Requirements

Quarterly reports will be required during the assignment.


April 30, 2023 – Deadline for submission of applications

May to June 2023 – Interviews

July 2023 (approx.) – Assignment begins


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