Local recruitment: Post Doc Research Associate on Coastal Social-Ecological Systems

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Seattle, WA, USA 🇺🇸

Job Description


The Coastal Sciences Division, headquartered at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Sequim Marine Research Operations on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula, is the Department of Energy’s only marine research laboratory. This unique facility and the capabilities of its researchers deliver science and technology that is critical to the nation’s energy, environmental and security future.

Building upon a history of research related to marine and coastal resources, environmental chemistry, water resources modeling, ecotoxicology and biotechnology—and more recently, national and homeland security—the MSL is emerging as a leader in these three areas:

  • Enabling sustainable development of ocean energy
  • Understanding and mitigating long-term impacts of human activities, including climate change, on marine resources
  • Protecting coastal environments from security threats 

PNNL seeks a creative, collaborative, and talented post-doctoral associate to conduct research on the effects of global change on coupled human-natural systems, and to develop innovative solutions to support climate and energy resilience for coastal communities across the US.

Recent legislation and executive actions on climate and clean energy are designed to reduce the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions and improve Americans’ quality of life. However, realizing national decarbonization goals will involve massive investments in renewable energy infrastructure that could affect local communities and environments. Taking a more interdisciplinary and community-driven approach to clean energy development has the potential to foster demand for renewable energy and result in a more equitable energy transition.

Depending on their expertise and interest, the selected candidate will have the opportunity to advance their social-ecological research interests through three major topic areas:

  • Developing a social-ecological framework for renewable energy development and implementation in coastal communities,
  • Quantifying ecosystem services to understand the benefits and costs of renewable energy for coastal communities, and
  • Developing approaches and tools to understand and respond to the needs of coastal remote, island, and islanded communities engaging in renewable energy transitions and climate adaption. 


The selected candidate will be expected to:

  • Review and synthesize literature, programs, case studies, and tools related to these topics.
  • Collaborate with an interdisciplinary research team at PNNL, the University of Washington, and other national laboratories and research institutions.
  • Advance modeling approaches and tools for ecosystem services and community-driven energy transitions.
  • Lead and contribute to scientific, peer-reviewed publications.
  • Assist with project management.

This position requires excellent technical, organizational, communication, and independent research skills as well as an aptitude for interdisciplinary collaboration, not only with scientists but with regional partners, community leaders and organizations, colleagues at the U.S. Departments of Energy and Defense, and other stakeholders.

The position will be supervised by Dr. Katie Arkema, Senior Scientist at PNNL and Affiliate Faculty at the School of Marine Affairs (SMEA) at the University of Washington.  Please reach out to Katie with any questions katie.arkema@pnnl.gov.


Minimum Qualifications:

  • Candidates must have received a PhD within the past five years (60 months) or within the next 8 months from an accredited college or university.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Strong background in coupled human and natural systems
  • Strong interpersonal communication skills
  • Strong problem-solving abilities and creativity
  • Experience with integrated modeling and quantitative analysis
  • Demonstrated interest and ability to publish work in peer-reviewed journals
  • Experience working with collaborators with diverse backgrounds and interdisciplinary teams
  • Proficiency with programming/scripting in R, MatLab, Python, or Linux/Unix environments and/or spatial analysis in QGIS or ArcGIS.
  • Experience with modeling ecosystem services or “nature’s contributions to people” in coastal and marine ecosystems.
  • Knowledge and experience engaging in science-policy processes, such as applications of social-ecological science to sustainable development, climate adaptation, conservation, and/or renewable energy transitions.
  • Ph.D. in earth or environmental science, geography, environmental economics, natural resource economics, marine science, ecology, or a related discipline.

Hazardous Working Conditions/Environment

Not Applicable.

Additional Information

Not Applicable.

About PNNL

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is a world-class research institution powered by a highly educated, diverse workforce committed to the values of Integrity, Creativity, Collaboration, Impact, and Courage. Every year, scores of dynamic, driven people come to PNNL to work with renowned researchers on meaningful science, innovations and outcomes for the U.S. Department of Energy and other sponsors; here is your chance to be one of them!

At PNNL, you will find an exciting research environment and excellent benefits including health insurance, flexible work schedules and telework options. PNNL is located in eastern Washington State—the dry side of Washington known for its stellar outdoor recreation and affordable cost of living. The Lab’s campus is only a 45-minute flight (or ~3 hour drive) from Seattle or Portland, and is serviced by the convenient PSC airport, connected to 8 major hubs.

Commitment to Excellence, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Equal Employment Opportunity

Our laboratory is committed to a diverse and inclusive work environment dedicated to solving critical challenges in fundamental sciences, national security, and energy resiliency. We are proud to be an Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer. In support of this commitment, we encourage people of all racial/ethnic identities, women, veterans, and individuals with disabilities to apply for employment.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory considers all applicants for employment without regard to race, religion, color, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity), national origin, age, disability, genetic information (including family medical history), protected veteran status, and any other status or characteristic protected by federal, state, and/or local laws.

We are committed to providing reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities and disabled veterans in our job application procedures and in employment. If you need assistance or an accommodation due to a disability, contact us at careers@pnnl.gov.

Drug Free Workplace

PNNL is committed to a drug-free workplace supported by Workplace Substance Abuse Program (WSAP) and complies with federal laws prohibiting the possession and use of illegal drugs.

Beginning 05/01/23, if you are offered employment at PNNL, you must pass a drug test prior to commencing employment. PNNL complies with federal law regarding illegal drug use.  Under federal law, marijuana remains an illegal drug.  If you test positive for any illegal controlled substance, including marijuana, your offer of employment will be withdrawn. 

Mandatory Requirements

Battelle requires employees to have a COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of employment, subject to accommodation.  Applicants are required to disclose their vaccination status following a conditional offer of employment and must attest to being fully vaccinated with a Center for Disease Control (CDC)-approved COVID-19 vaccination, or provide documentation of need for medical or religious exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement.

Please be aware that the Department of Energy (DOE) prohibits DOE employees and contractors from having any affiliation with the foreign government of a country DOE has identified as a “country of risk” without explicit approval by DOE and Battelle. If you are offered a position at PNNL and currently have any affiliation with the government of one of these countries you will be required to disclose this information and recuse yourself of that affiliation or receive approval from DOE and Battelle prior to your first day of employment.

Rockstar Rewards

Employees and their families are offered medical insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance, health savings account, flexible spending accounts, basic life insurance, disability insurance*, employee assistance program, business travel insurance, tuition assistance, supplemental parental bonding leave**, surrogacy and adoption assistance, and fertility support. Employees are automatically enrolled in our company funded pension plan* and may enroll in our 401k savings plan. Employees may accrue up to 120 vacation hours per year and may receive ten paid holidays per year.

* Research Associates excluded.

**Once eligibility requirements are met.





IHE Delft MSc in Water and Sustainable Development