Postdoctoral Research Associate: Exploring nature’s role in achieving U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Arizona State University

Tempe, AZ, US


Tempe Campus

Full/Part Time



Regular Fiscal Appointment

Position Type

These are grant funded positions. Continuation is contingent on future grant funding. 

Hiring Range

$47,500 – $50,000 annually, DOE

Job Description

The Center for Biodiversity Outcomes (CBO) ( at Arizona State University is pleased to invite applications for a post-doctoral position in collaboration with Conservation International (CI) (

A post-doctoral fellowship is available at Arizona State University to work on a joint collaboration with Conservation International (CI – based in Arlington, VA, to explore the role of nature in sustainable development, specifically in the context of achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The 17 SDGs (and their 169 associated Targets), for the first time at the global level, bring environmental, social and economic objectives together into a consistent structure, recognizing the close connections between environment and development.  However, the role of natural capital in achieving the SDGs is both poorly articulated and almost entirely unquantified. This position will build on nascent research that has begun to develop the conceptual underpinnings for defining the ‘natural capital component’ of relevant goals and will test that framework by quantifying the role of nature in achieving a selection of the goals and/or their underlying targets, at the global scale, complemented by appropriate national scale case studies. Such an approach is critical to understand, for example, the degree of dependence of many of the goals and targets on natural capital for their achievement, as well as the spatial distribution of ecosystems most critical for providing the associated ecosystem benefits. This approach will permit the exploration of inevitable trade-offs between goals and targets as they interact over space and time, in order to assess sustainability through 2030 and beyond.

The Fellow’s work will have the potential to impact global scale policy interventions and instruments, including processes such as IPBES, and will also be critical for informing “nationalization” of the SDGs; how should individual countries integrate the role of nature as they each define and implement a pathway to achieving the SDGs over the next few years?; a key question for CI and its partners.

Under the supervision of Leah Gerber (CBO, Director) and Dave Hole (Senior Director in Conservation International’s Moore Center for Science), the postdoctoral fellow will explore both the conceptual basis underpinning the role of nature in achievement of the SDGs, and the practicalities of attempting to quantify that role, through relevant, highly interdisciplinary research and modeling (using for example, state of the art ecosystem service or earth-system models), and based on a wide range of appropriate underlying environmental, social and economic datasets, at multiple scales.

Essential Duties
Conduct highly interdisciplinary research; compile, analyze, and synthesize data into high-profile scientific publications; liaise with additional academic/other partners as necessary, to achieve objectives.


Minimum Qualifications

  • Applicants must have completed their Ph.D. in environmental science or a relevant field by the start date of the appointment. Applicants who have not yet completed their doctorate must indicate the date the degree is expected. 
  • Applicants must have training or experience in one or more of the following disciplines: sustainability science, ecosystem services, earth system science.
  • Strong quantitative skills in working with and analyzing large data sets and geospatial data.
  • Evidence of ability to conduct independent research, to collaborate across disciplines, and to publish research results.

Desired Qualifications

Demonstrates experience in one or more of the following skills: survey research methods; statistical analysis or modeling; compilation and analysis of existing data from public sources; ecological modeling; institutional analysis. 

Application Instructions

Instructions to Apply

Applicants must submit:

  1. Cover letter explaining how prior experience and qualifications are appropriate to the job activities.
  2. Statement of research accomplishments. Applicants should describe experience and goals related to the program, highlighting strengths of the applicant’s experience towards developing and implementing proposed research. Applicants are encouraged to discuss relevant research questions, approaches, scientific significance, and significance to action-oriented research.
  3. Curriculum Vitae or resume.
  4. Letters of recommendation. Provide the name, phone number, address, and e-mail address of three references.

Only electronic applications will be accepted.

Application Close Date

The deadline will be February 28, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time. 

Department Information
The Center for Biodiversity Outcomes is a partnership between the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability (ASU Wrigley Institute) ( and the School of Life Sciences (SOLS) ( ASU Wrigley Institute is the hub of ASU’s sustainability initiatives, advancing research, education, and business practices for an urbanizing world. SOLS offers various undergraduate and graduate degrees in medicine, biotechnology, microbiology, conservation biology and ecology.

Background Check Statement

ASU conducts pre-employment screening for all positions, which includes a criminal background check, verification of work history, academic credentials, licenses, and certifications.

Arizona State University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer. The Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability actively encourages diversity among its applicants and workforce.

For further information about CBO, please contact [email protected].

This institution is using Interfolio’s ByCommittee to conduct this search. Applicants to this position receive a free Dossier account and can send all application materials, including confidential letters of recommendation, free of charge.

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