Postdoctoral Fellow II (WATS - Colorado River Basin)

Utah State University

Logan, UT, US


State and federal agencies will soon begin negotiating water-supply agreements that will establish future policy regarding water supply and storage in the Colorado River basin. These agreements will shape annual and seasonal allocation of flows, as well as water quality, especially water temperature, throughout the basin, with implications for river ecosystems and the recovery of federally listed fish species. While there are many active research projects in the basin, there is a need for synthesis of how potential changes in flow regime, river temperature, and other ecosystem drivers may facilitate or hamper recovery of federally listed fish species and restoration of aquatic ecosystem.


General Activities

The primary products developed by the fellow will be published as white papers on the website of the Center for Colorado River Studies ( and as peer reviewed reports or journal articles describing synthesis and decision support tools. The results of science roundtable discussions and workshops will be summarized as Working Papers on the website. Decision support tools and models will be integrated into the Future of the Colorado River project as part of the analysis of alternative management paradigms and the analysis of tradeoffs between water supply and environmental objectives. At both the midway point (after phases 1 and 2), and end of the project, the fellow will work with the PIs to give presentations to stakeholder groups describing results of our synthesis, key uncertainties identified, and progress towards developing decision support tools. At the end of 18 months, the fellow will have submitted one or more peer reviewed reports or journal articles describing synthesis and decision support tools and also identifying critical uncertainties and cross-basin transferability that could be addressed through future research. Concurrent with publication of these manuscripts, code and data for the decision support tool will be made available through a data/code release.

Specific Activities

Phase 1: Identify existing models and datasets and synthesize literature. 

  1. Identify the current assemblage of fish species in each river segment of concern;
  2. Synthesize known responses or non-responses of the current fish assemblage that occur either directly or through species interactions in response to changes in ecosystem drivers;
  3. Identify and synthesize on-going management activities, including “designer flows,” that seek to mitigate adverse impacts of water-supply management and nonflow management such as nonnative fish removal. Where possible, quantify the effectiveness of these activities;
  4. Identify specific factors that distinguish each segment (e.g., unique habitat, barriers that fragment the rivers, unique water quality or flow regulation attributes);
  5. Synthesize the state-of-river-science and the ability to predict ecosystem effects of significant changes in ecosystem drivers; and,
  6. Identify uncertainty in predictive strategies in each of the above.

Phase 2: Evaluate the potential impacts to different predicted flow and thermal regimes associated with alternative water storage management paradigms – concurrent work of Futures Project. These alternative management paradigms are being identified by the Futures Project in consultation with climate and water policy experts and by stakeholders representing water users, federal agencies, and water districts. Use findings of the Futures Project concerning the river temperature implications of alternative paradigms for storing and releasing reservoir water to determine the plausible range of stream-flow and temperature regimes that might exist in each river segment in the future. We will also evaluate whether “designer flows,” defined as short duration reservoir releases implemented to achieve desired ecosystem outcomes, can be plausibly implemented under conditions of declining watershed runoff.


Phase 3: Identify conditions that might occur under alternative management paradigms that significantly differ from current conditions, especially no-analogue conditions. Predict responses of fish populations, including workshop held at Upper Basin researchers meeting). We define “no-analog conditions” as conditions where:

  1. there are non-native species that are not currently present, but have a reasonable probability of introduction, or
  2. flow and thermal regimes are predicted that have not previously occurred.

We will use expert elicitation and synthesis of data from all river segments to make predictions (including uncertainty) for these no-analog conditions.


Phase 4: Aggregate understanding and develop simple models (or modify existing models) that can be linked with model outputs of the Futures Project. These models will make segment- specific predictions under different end-member alternative management paradigms and different hypothesized relationships between fish communities and ecosystem drivers. We will evaluate each end-member alternative water management paradigm. Thus, our approach will allow decision makers to evaluate trade-offs among a wide range of future reservoir storage scenarios.


Phase 5: Meet with roundtable groups of regional experts as well as various water system managers (e.g., Reclamation, Western Area Power, state water agencies, municipal water agencies, water conservancy districts, and tribes) to present, discuss, and revise predictions and syntheses to better inform on-going negotiations about water supply allocation and reservoir storage.


  • PhD in Aquatic or Fish Ecology. 
    • Note: Degree is not required to have been officially awarded, but dissertation, including revisions must have been defended and accepted by the committee.
  • Ability to interpret and analyze data. 
  • Skilled in statistical analysis. 
  • Knowledge of the principles of the peer review process. 
  • Ability to present research in both spoken and written formats. 
  • Ability to implement existing methodology and develop new approaches to experiments. 

Required Documents

Along with the online application, please attach:


1. Resume to be uploaded at the beginning of your application in the Candidate Profile under “Resume/CV”

2. Cover Letter to be typed/pasted at the end of your application


**Document size may not exceed 10 MB.**

Advertised Salary

Commensurate with qualifications and experience, plus excellent benefits


The environment and physical requirements may change depending on the specific function of the work each department performs. Incumbents may be in both indoor and outdoor environments; however, most of the work will be conducted indoors based on department needs. Indoors, in an office space, event space, or public space are protected from weather conditions, but not necessarily from temperature changes. Incumbents may nearly continuously sit and often use repetitive hand motion (such as typing).


Outdoors, incumbents may not be protected from weather conditions and may be exposed to extreme heat and extreme cold. Additionally, indoor or outdoor work environments may include being confined or in narrow spaces for periods of time. The incumbent may also be exposed to loud noises or vibrations from equipment, and conditions that may affect the respiratory system, such as fumes, odors, dusts, mists, gases, and poor ventilation. Bending, crawling, and crouching may be required. Incumbents may be required to lift, push, and/or pull objects and be required to walk and/or stand for long periods of time.

University Highlights

Utah State University (USU) was founded in 1888 and is honored to be Utah’s land-grant and space-grant university. USU is a Carnegie RU/H (Research University/High Research Activity) institution with approximately 27,800 students (24,660 undergraduates and 3,140 graduate students) on the Logan main campus. Utah State’s statewide system features eight campuses and 23 education centers and serves all counties in the state with Extension programs. USU offers 165 undergraduate majors, 138 graduate programs, and a variety of innovative stackable associate and certificate credentials. Washington Monthly ranked USU 14th in their national university rankings in 2019 and the 5th best public national university in the nation in 2018. As one of the two premier research institutions in Utah, USU is proud to provide a high-quality education at an affordable price. Additional information about Utah State University can be found here.


A core characteristic of USU is engagement with communities and people in economic development, improvements to quality of life, and human capital. Through the practical application of knowledge, the University and its faculty engage and share expertise with the state, nation, and world, preserving the historical land-grant tradition of partnering with communities to address critical societal issues in the interest of the public good.


The USU main campus is located in beautiful Logan, Utah; a city of about 50,000 situated in a picturesque mountain valley about 80 miles north of Salt Lake City. Outstanding recreational opportunities abound in the nearby mountains and proximate region.


USU recognizes and values the importance of diversity and inclusion in enriching the employment experience of its employees and in supporting the university’s academic mission of learning, discovery, and engagement. USU is an Equal Opportunity employer and does not discriminate in any of its programs and activities based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, genetic information, sexual orientation or gender identity/expression, disability, status as a protected veteran, or any other status protected by University policy or local, state, or federal law (

The following individuals have been designated to handle inquiries regarding USU’s non-discrimination policies: Executive Director of the Office of Equity Alison Adams-Perlac, [email protected], Old Main Rm. 161, 435-797-1266; Title IX Coordinator Hilary Renshaw, [email protected], Old Main Rm. 161, 435-797-1266.

For further information on the notice of non-discrimination, you may contact the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, 303-844-5695, [email protected].

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USU is sensitive to the needs of dual career couples and provides a Dual Career Assistance program to support careers for partners who are also seeking employment.





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