Post-doctoral research position: Hydrology & Soil Science

University of California-Davis
Davis, CA, United States
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
University/Academia/Research/Think tank
Experience Level: 
Not Specified
Degree Required: 


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Post-doctoral research position: Hydrology & Soil Science

Climate-Smart Irrigation and the Food-Energy-Water Nexus in California’s Central Valley

The Nocco Conservation Irrigation Lab and Scow Soil Microbial Ecology Labs at the University of California Davis are seeking a postdoctoral scholar for a 2-year project who is passionate about agricultural water+energy sustainability, “smart” irrigation management, and engaging with stakeholders. We are interested in working with an experienced field scientist who can think creatively and practically about what it is going to take to implement both short-term and long-term coupled water and energy saving strategies in California’s Central Valley.

The successful candidate will lead sensor-driven field studies to evaluate several different decision support tools for irrigation. The evaluations and supporting data will be made available to California growers and food-energy-water stakeholders through a public web platform in order to provide detailed, comprehensive, and generalizable comparisons of different irrigation decision support tools and stimulate more widespread adoption of smart irrigation practices, reducing California’s overall energy and water use, while maintaining food production. Within overarching project goals, the candidate will have intellectual freedom to develop and pursue the research directions they find most interesting.

This position is based at the Agricultural Sustainability Institute, a research center within the University of California, Davis, and the selected candidate will have the opportunity to collaborate statewide with scholars at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), Energy Solutions, and the Center for the Built Environment (CBE) at UC Berkeley, as part of a multi-institution project funded by the California Energy Commission. This position’s direct supervisor will be Dr. Mallika Nocco ( Mentorship will focus on helping you meet your professional development goals, whether in academia or elsewhere.


90%: Conduct fundamental research on soil-plant-water relations in irrigated Central Valley systems

  • Prepare and deploy sensors to monitor evapotranspiration, soil moisture, and soil water potential in plot and on-farm experiments
  • Measure stem water potential, photosynthesis, and stomatal conductance
  • Estimate coupled water-energy budgets using agroecosystem models
  • Coordinate project advisory group meetings with stakeholders from government, academic, extension, agricultural, tech, and private sectors
  • Prepare manuscripts for publication
  • Develop and pursue new research directions related to water in agricultural landscapes
  • Present results at conferences and publish results in peer-reviewed journals

10%: Extension, Mentorship, and Outreach within the UC Davis and greater California agriculture community

Degree Requirement
Ph.D. in soil science, agroecology, plant physiology, irrigation management, agrohydrology, or field related to soil-plant-water relations by start date
Additional (met by the start date of the position)
● Demonstrated ability to write and publish papers
● Willingness to collaborate and demonstrated ability to communicate effectively across disciplines
● Demonstrated excellent research capabilities required to carry out innovative and insightful research.
● Expertise in soil moisture, tension, and evapotranspiration measurements
● Strong scientific communication skills as evidenced by peer-reviewed publications, extension work, and conference presentations;

● Familiarity with subsurface drip irrigation systems
● Familiarity with mediterranean cropping systems
● Experience validating soil hydrologic models using field measurements
● Well-developed data processing skills, including experience with R and/or Python
● Experience with remote sensing of evapotranspiration

SALARY: Commensurate with qualifications and experience. Benefits include university staff privileges; group medical, dental, vision, AD&D, and life insurance options.

The position is 100% for 12 months initially, may be renewed based on funding and contingent on satisfactory progress.

Review of applications will begin August 24, 2020. The position will remain open until filled with a preferred start date of October 1, 2020 with option to start remotely and move to CA in time for the 2021 field season.