Postdoctoral Researcher, Wildfire and Hydrological Modeler

Desert Research Institute (DRI)

Reno, NV, USA 🇺🇸

Thank you for your interest in employment with the Desert Research Institute.  We want your  application process to go smoothly and quickly.  We ask that you keep in mind the following when completing your application:

  • Once you start the application process you cannot save your work. Please ensure you have all required attachment(s) available to complete your application before you begin the process.
  • Required attachments are listed below on the posting. Your application will not be considered without the required attachments.
  • Please see the application instructions under each posting for information on submittal deadlines.

If you need assistance or have questions regarding the application process, contact Human Resources Hotline at (775) 673-7431 or [email protected].

Job Description

The Division of Hydrologic Sciences of the Desert Research Institute (DRI) is seeking a post-doctoral researcher to conduct environmental research in its Reno facility. The research focuses on modeling of wildfire processes with emphasis on links to soil, hydrology, and vegetation processes at the catchment scale. The successful candidate will be expected to gain working knowledge and independently run existing wildfire physical models (e.g., QuicFire) to generate post-fire soil-hydrological scenarios for selected catchments in the Western U.S. The candidate will assist with developing post-fire hydrologic parameterization schemes informed by fire patterns and intensity to systematically study climate-vegetation-hydrology feedbacks using available catchment scale modeling tools, participate in data preparation and interpretation of modeling results towards generation of reports and scientific publications.   In addition to research duties, the candidate will have opportunities to participate in grant writing and proposal development. The research will be based primarily in Reno although personnel exchanges with collaborating laboratories in the U.S. are anticipated. Some field work also may be required.

Required Qualifications

  • Ph.D. in hydrology, soil science, forestry, engineering, or related discipline from an accredited institution.
  • Strong quantitative skills and ability to learn and apply large scale fire simulation and hydrological models.
  • Experience in acquisition and use of spatial information and large data management skills.
  • Excellent English-language communication skills (oral and written).
  • Demonstrated ability to perform research and publish results in peer-reviewed literature.
  • Due to the current health and safety emergency declaration, anyone hired must receive a complete (and verified) COVID-19 vaccination series or an approved medical or religious waiver request as a term and condition of employment prior to any start date at any Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) institution.

Preferred Qualifications

Greater consideration will be given to those who possess the following skills and attributes:

  • Background in large scale numerical modeling (hydrologic or climatic).
  • Knowledge of wildfire physics and model development.
  • Field and/or laboratory research experience in soil and hydrologic measurements.
  • Experience with scientific software development in C/C++, FORTRAN and/or Python.
  • Experience in writing successful grant applications.

Conditions Of Employment

  • Some travel expected for meetings, workshops, and conferences.
  • Visits to field sites and conduction of field measurements may be required.
  • Due to the current health and safety emergency declaration, anyone hired must receive a complete (and verified) COVID-19 vaccination series or an approved medical or religious waiver request as a term and condition of employment prior to any start date at any Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) institution.

Organizational Summary

For more than 60 years, the Desert Research Institute has functioned as the nonprofit, non-degree-granting environmental research arm of the Nevada System of Higher Education. Focused on basic and applied research, the Institute’s unique model blends academia with entrepreneurship to deliver a wide variety of scientific services and research-generated knowledge to its sponsors and clients.

DRI faculty are nontenured and responsible for generating their own salaries and Institute operating revenues through external funding. DRI also receives a portion of its annual operating revenues from the State of Nevada. As an autonomous organization in NSHE, DRI maintains financial and personnel policies and procedures that differ from other NSHE institutions.

The position will be based in Reno situated in northwestern Nevada at the base of the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains, 25 minutes from Lake Tahoe. Reno boasts 300+ days of sunshine and offers unparalleled opportunities for outdoor activities ranging from mountain biking, hiking, fishing, hunting, whitewater paddling, and golfing in the summer and fall to alpine skiing, snowboarding, and cross-country skiing in the winter.

Salary / Benefits

Starting salary is commensurate with experience and education. DRI offers a benefits package that includes medical, dental, vision, and life insurance, 6.2% retirement match, 1.25 annual leave days per month, a beginning balance of 15 sick leave days, 11 paid holidays, educational benefits, and the option to participate in a flexible spending account or health savings account. Additionally, there is no state income tax and no social security deduction. This position may be eligible for relocation assistance dependent on division funding.


Full-Time Equivalent 100.0%

Required Attachment(s)

Qualified individuals interested in this position must apply through Workday and upload the required documents below in the specified sections of the application.

  • Cover letter detailing how you meet DRI’s listed educational and experience qualifications.
  • Summary of your career interests and goals.
  • Current resume or CV.
  • Names and contact information for three professional references.

Qualified individuals are encouraged to apply immediately and provide all required attachments to receive full consideration. Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.

Questions should be addressed to Dr. Sean McKenna ([email protected]) or Dr. Dani Or ([email protected]). To learn more about DRI, visit us at or call the recruitment office at 775-673-7319.

Posting Close Date

Note to Applicant

Applicants should fully describe their qualifications and experience with specific reference to each of the minimum and preferred qualifications. The search committee will use this information during the initial review of application materials.  

References will be contacted at the appropriate phase of the recruitment process based on applicant notification and permission.

Newly hired faculty and postdoctoral fellows must assure that their official transcript is submitted to the Human Resources Office within 30 calendar days from the effective date of employment.  Academic degrees must have been awarded by regionally accredited institutions.

This position may require a criminal background check to be conducted on the candidate(s) selected for hire.

As part of the hiring process, applicants for positions in the Nevada System of Higher Education may be required to demonstrate the ability to perform job-related tasks.

DRI employs only U.S. citizens and aliens authorized to work in the U.S. DRI only sponsors aliens applying for research faculty or postdoctoral fellow positions (J-1 or H-1B Visas).

All applicants hired by the Desert Research Institute are subject to E-Verify.





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