Postdoctoral Research Associate (Geosciences)

University of Montana

Missoula, MT, US

The Department of Geosciences at the University of Montana seeks applicants for a 12-month Postdoctoral Research Associate position renewable for multiple years. The research associate will work directly with Assistant Professors of Geosciences, Hilary Martens (Geophysics) and Payton Gardner (Hydrology), on an NSF-funded research project titled “Collaborative Research: New science, tools, and observations to couple geodesy with hydrology for modeling, water storage change, and streamflow forecasting in mountain watersheds.” This research bridges traditional disciplinary boundaries in geophysics and hydrology to generate new knowledge about the storage and flow of water through mountain watersheds. Recent advances in geophysics, including the development and expansion of global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) that measure subtle changes in the shape of the Earth caused by the weight of groundwater and surface water, have transformed the ability to study Earth’s water cycle, especially at spatial and temporal scales that are relevant to complex mountain watersheds. By precisely observing and modeling the centimeter-scale deformation of Earth due to fluctuations in mountain snow and water storage, this project aims to place new constraints on hydrologic models at the intermediate watershed scale, create enhanced operational tools for water-resource management, and develop a prototype hydrologic early-warning system that can alert downstream communities to flood risk or flash droughts.

The multidisciplinary and team-based study combines fieldwork, data analysis, and modeling to investigate three hydrologically distinct mountain watersheds in the western USA: two in California and one in Montana. The fieldwork will involve the deployment and maintenance of GNSS, hydrologic, and meteorological sensors. The data analysis will involve the processing and interpretation of the geodetic, hydrologic, and meteorological data streams. Geodetic modeling will involve the development of software to forward and inverse model the deformation response of the solid Earth to hydrologic loading and unloading on daily to multi-year time scales. Hydrologic modeling will involve estimating watershed-scale storage and release using high-resolution, distributed, integrated hydrologic models.

The person assigned to this position will take a leading role in at least one of the major components of the project: fieldwork, data analysis, and modeling. The data analysis and modeling may be in the realm of geodesy and/or hydrology, depending on the applicant’s academic background and interests. Also, the research associate will have opportunities to engage in professional development activities, formal presentations, mentoring of graduate and undergraduate students involved in the project, and close collaborations with project partners at UC San Diego (Scripps) and NASA JPL. The research associate will be expected to maintain high standards of scientific ethics and to take the lead on the development of at least one scientific publication.

Position Details

  • The salary for this postdoctoral research associate is $45,000/year.
  • Position is full-time, 1.0 FTE, Letter of Appointment, and includes a comprehensive and competitive benefits package including insurance, mandatory retirement plan, partial tuition waiver, and wellness program.

Required Education and Skills

  • Ph.D. in Geoscience, Geophysics, Hydrology, or similarly aligned fields.
    • Applicants with diverse backgrounds are encouraged to apply.
  • Applicants must be able to clearly communicate complex ideas in writing and be willing to learn in a fast-paced, self-directed environment.
  • Evidence of publishing in academic journals.
  • Strong theoretical foundations in quantitative earth system science including but not limited to geophysics, hydrology, geology, and/or atmospheric sciences.
  • Familiarity with Linux computing platforms.
  • Ability to travel safely in remote field locations.
  • Proficiency with quantitative computational techniques and languages
  • Proficiency in scripting languages such as R, Python, MatLab, etc.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Familiarity with GNSS data processing and analysis.
  • Familiarity with modeling elastic deformation of the Earth due to surface loading.
  • Familiarity with hydrologic modeling.
  • Familiarity with engines and mechanical devices.
  • Familiarity with electronics and instrumentation.
  • Familiarity with backcountry and wilderness travel in mountainous environments.
  • Familiarity with snow and avalanche safety.

About the Department of Geosciences, Missoula, and UM

The mission of the Department of Geosciences is to develop new knowledge of Earth’s history, environment, and resources; engage our students in the process, and share that knowledge broadly. We emphasize research goals and questions that simultaneously address issues of global importance and serve the people of Montana, hence our interest in water, climate, geologic resources, and natural hazards.

The University of Montana is a unit of the Montana University System with approximately 12,000 undergraduate and graduate students and 500+ full-time faculty members. It is located in Missoula, a culturally vibrant community of about 70,000, surrounded by mountain grandeur which was recently ranked in the “top 20 best college towns with a population of less than 250,000” by the American Institute for Economic Research and ranked 9th in Outside Magazine’s “The 16 Greatest Places to Live in America” in 2014. Many national publications recognize Missoula for its high quality of life. Abundant recreational opportunities in surrounding state and national forests and nearby Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park complement a thriving intellectual atmosphere.

UM is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity employer and has a strong institutional commitment to the principle of diversity in all areas. In that spirit, we are particularly interested in receiving applications from a broad spectrum of qualified people who would assist the University in demonstrating its five priorities for action: Place student success at the center of all we do; drive excellence and innovation in teaching, learning, and research; embody the principle of “mission first, people always”; partner with place; and proudly tell the UM story.

To learn more about the University of Montana, Missoula, and the State of Montana, please visit the links below.

Criminal Background Investigation is required prior to the Offer of Employment In accordance with University regulations, finalists for this position will be subject to criminal background investigations. ADA/EOE/AA/Veteran’s Preference Reasonable accommodations are provided in the hiring process for persons with disabilities. For example, this material is available in alternative format upon request. As an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer, we encourage applications from minorities, veterans, and women. Qualified candidates may request veterans’ or disabilities preference in accordance with state law. References: References not listed on the application materials may be contacted; notice may be provided to the applicant. Testing: Individual hiring departments at UM may elect to administer pre-employment tests, which are relevant to essential job functions. Employment Eligibility: All New Employees must be eligible and show employment eligibility verification by the first date of employment at UM, as legally required (e.g., Form I-9).

How to Apply

Application Deadline: July 20, 2020 by 11:59 PM (Mountain Time)

Application review will begin after the date above and continue until the position is filled. 

Please submit the following application materials via “New Resume/CV” button below. 

*Please note: only five (5) attachments are allowed per application. Please combine documents accordingly.

  • Letter of Interest addressing the stated required skills for the position
  • Detailed resume listing education and describing work experience
  • Names and contact information for three (3) professional references