Post-Doctoral Researcher (Natural Capital Project)

University of Minnesota

Twin Cities, MN, US


Required Qualifications:

Ph.D. in Ecology, Hydrology, Geography, Urban Planning, Economics, Engineering or related field.
Experience with ArcGIS or other GIS software.
Interest in and affinity for working in interdisciplinary research teams.
Experience facilitating workshops and meetings.
Interest in applied conservation science and producing impactful and decision-relevant work.
Effective and responsive team member with track record of successful collaborative engagements.
Demonstrated excellence in written and oral communications skills.

Preferred Qualifications:

Experience working internationally and with diverse non-academic audiences.
Experience developing and applying ecological or economic models.
Familiarity with iTREE or InVEST software tools.
Experience with open-source software and programming languages or applications (MatLab, R, python)
Research or work experience in urban design, planning, engineering or urban sustainability.
Experience supervising interns or undergraduate research assistants.
Familiarity with urban resilience literature and current practices, initiatives such as the urban sustainable development goals and/or the New Urban Agenda.
International travel experience and foreign language skills.

About the Job

The Natural Capital Project (a partnership between The Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, the University of Minnesota, and Stanford University) seeks a post-doctoral researcher to work on urban ecosystem services and nature-based solutions in cities. The position will be based at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment and co-supervised by Dr. Bonnie Keeler (Program Director & Lead Scientist for the Natural Capital Project) and Dr. Rob McDonald (Lead Scientist for Global Cities at the Nature Conservancy).

The position will complement existing Natural Capital Project (NatCap) and Conservancy (TNC) science engagements and practitioner networks in cities around the world. TNC has a robust network of urban leads across 22 cities in the U.S. and a growing suite of international cities. NatCap has ongoing collaborations with city leaders in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, New York City, Stockholm and Durban, South Africa, in addition to international sustainability networks through private and public sector partners. Both organizations are fielding increasing demand from cities to provide timely science-based information on the potential benefits and costs of urban nature (e.g. green infrastructure, street trees, parks). TNC and NatCap have recently completed extensive literature reviews of the evidence and understanding of urban nature in providing ecosystem services such as flood protection, urban heat mitigation, recreation, and water quality improvement. The next step is to translate these reviews into actionable metrics and guidance for urban leaders and tailor science to the unique contexts of different urban environments and stakeholders. The long-term goal is to produce a visualization tool that will increase the uptake of nature-based solutions in cities, improve communication of nature’s values, and ensure that conservation and restoration activities benefit the residents and communities most in need.

The post-doctoral researcher would work with both TNC and NatCap research teams and practitioners in cities in the U.S. and abroad to refine a list of data needs and key ecosystem services metrics demanded by city leaders. The researcher would develop candidate set of metrics for rapid prototyping and match existing models and tools to the needs of decision-makers. The researcher would work directly with planners, designers and city leaders to test and refine metrics and guidelines as they relate to specific decision contexts or planning processes in cities. The researcher is expected to facilitate and manage the partnership between NatCap and TNC, communicate project goals and findings to academic and the public, and assist with stakeholder engagement and capacity-building activities.

The position is funded externally for two years. There may be an opportunity to extend the appointment depending on funding and performance. The post-doctoral researcher will be encouraged to collaborate on grants and pursue additional partnerships and funding opportunities through the University of Minnesota and the Natural Capital Project. This position will complement existing sponsored projects funded by the Natural Capital Project on sourcewater protection, the ecosystem service benefits of urban green spaces in Minneapolis, integrating ecosystem services approaches with the built environment, and social and community capacity assessments related to urban water management and environmental justice.

To be considered for this position, please submit a cover letter and your CV.

Principal Duties and Responsibilities

25% – Project management and coordination to support TNC and NatCap partnership on urban ecosystem services. Lead engagements and capacity-building efforts with stakeholders, academics, NGOs and other groups to promote collaborations and improve the uptake and impact of the work.
75% – Development and refinement of science-based metrics and guidelines to be used by urban decision makers around the world. Work may require candidate to integrate diverse methods in spatial analysis, ecosystem services modeling, hydrology, and economics. Outcome of research investments should support a visualization tool for urban ecosystem services.

Working Conditions:
The majority of the work will take place in an office setting. Work will require some international travel to Africa and Latin America. Additional domestic travel will be required to U.S. cities and Washington, D.C. to meet with TNC colleagues.

About the Department

About the Natural Capital Project:
The Natural Capital Project (NatCap) is a partnership combining research innovation at the University of Minnesota and Stanford University with the global reach of conservation science and policy at the Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund. Our project supports over forty natural and social scientists working collaboratively with partners around the world to improve outcomes for people and nature using cutting-edge science, open source software tools and meaningful engagements with end-users in the private, public and NGO sectors. For more information about NatCap, see

About the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment:
The Institute on the Environment (IonE) seeks to lead the way toward a future in which people and the environment prosper together. IonE is accelerating the transition to this future by supporting breakthrough research across disciplines, developing the next generation of global leaders and building transformative partnerships across the state, region and globe. IonE prides itself on not being academia as usual. At IonE, we go out of our way to collaborate with external partners while bringing different academic fields of expertise together within the University — all with an eye towards being responsive, agile and entrepreneurial in the face of a changing world. For more information about IonE, see

How To Apply

Applications must be submitted online.  To be considered for this position, please click the Apply button and follow the instructions.  You will have the opportunity to complete an online application for the position and attach a cover letter and resume.

Additional documents may be attached after application by accessing your applicant account and selecting the “My Activities” page and uploading documents there.  

This position will remain open until filled.

To request an accommodation during the application process, please e-mail [email protected] or call (612) 624-UOHR (8647).


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