Postdoctoral Fellow (Water in the West)

Stanford University

Stanford, CA, USA 🇺🇸

Water in the West, a joint program of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and the Bill Lane Center for tWater in the West, a joint program of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and the Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford University, is seeking a Postdoctoral Fellow to conduct applied research in their Watershed Health & Allocation program. The program’s interdisciplinary research seeks to find solutions to the problem of preserving rivers and streams while supplying adequate water to cities, farms, and industry.

The Fellow will be a recent graduate who has received a Ph.D and who has substantial experience in water resources computational modeling. The Fellow will join a new interdisciplinary solutions-oriented research project evaluating how to improve ecological outcomes from environmental water rights transactions in the Upper Colorado River basin. The Fellow will help to develop and deploy a novel decision-support model for conservation non-profits and agencies to use when implementing real water transactions. The Fellow will be co-advised by Professors Steven M. Gorelick (Earth System Science) and Barton H. Thompson (Stanford Law School) and will work closely with another postdoctoral fellow in Stanford’s Water in the West program. The Fellow is funded for 1.5 years but is extendable dependent on funding.

The Colorado River basin supplies water to 40 million people and 5.5 irrigated acres of farmland, and it provides critical in-stream and riparian habitat. However, water law historically reserved no water for riverine ecosystems, and today the basin’s rivers routinely run so dry that severe ecological damage to fish habitat occurs, with 44 of 49 native fish species endangered, threatened, or extinct. Buying water to protect ecosystems through private water rights transactions – a proven mechanism to restore river flows – entails conservation buyers pursuing individual water sellers on a mostly ad hoc basis instead of exercising an optimal, cost-effective regional strategy. This project aims to deploy a novel ecohydrologic-economic-legal model that maximizes ecological preservation. The model identifies the most beneficial set of surface-water market transactions for ecosystems in the Upper Colorado River basin. This project comes at a critical time, with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation issuing its first-ever shortage declaration for the Colorado River in August 2021. As Colorado River states continue to experience water scarcity, Upper Basin states are contemplating starting a new market-based program for interstate water deliveries under the Colorado River Compact.
The Fellow will perform a variety of tasks, including:
• Writing peer-reviewed research articles and other research reports
• Presenting research results at academic and practitioner conferences and workshops
• Build partnerships with government agencies and NGOs
• Developing the computational model, novel model scenarios, and a user-friendly model interface that conservation organizations and agencies can use
• Contribute to grants, funding applications and grant reporting  Required Qualifications: 

Applicants must have:
(1) Be fluent English speakers and writers 
(2) The Fellow will be a recent graduate who has received a Ph.D. and who has substantial experience in water resources computational modeling.
Stanford University limits postdoctoral fellows to a total of five years spent as a postdoc, including time as a postdoc at other universities or organizations.
Successful candidates will have demonstrated:
(1) strong experience in communicating research to a variety of audiences in both written and oral format;
(2) strong quantitative research and modeling skills;
(3) experience with interdisciplinary collaborations;
(4) a growing record of scholarship or other activities of high impact in their field; and
(5) demonstrated interest in solutions-oriented research that can directly improve environmental outcomes.   Required Application Materials: 

  • Curriculum vitae
  • Undergraduate and graduate transcripts (official copies required for finalists)
  • Names and contact information for three references
  • Writing sample
  • One-page cover letter detailing qualifications

Stanford is an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.





IHE Delft Institute for Water Education - MSc in Water and Sustainable Development