U.S. nationals: Chemical Patterns in Soils and Waters of Alaskan Coastal Rainforest Watersheds Fellowship

U.S. Forest Service (USFS)
Juneau, AK, United States
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
Experience Level: 
Not Specified
Degree Required: 


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Application Deadline

1/4/2021 3:00:00 PM Eastern Time Zone


*Applications will be reviewed on a rolling-basis.

A postdoctoral research opportunity is currently available at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Forest Service (USFS), Pacific Northwest Research Station (PNWRS) located in Juneau, Alaska. The opportunity location is negotiable depending on candidate selection and COVID-19 protocols.

At the heart of the U.S. Forest Service's mission is their purpose. Everything they do is intended to help sustain forests and grasslands for present and future generations. Why? Because their stewardship work supports nature in sustaining life. This is the purpose that drives the agency’s mission and motivates their work across the agency. It’s been there from the agency’s very beginning, and it still drives them. To advance the mission and serve their purpose, the U.S. Forest Service balances the short and long-term needs of people and nature by: working in collaboration with communities and our partners; providing access to resources and experiences that promote economic, ecological, and social vitality; connecting people to the land and one another; and delivering world-class science, technology and land management.

The Alaskan perhumid coastal temperate rainforest (pCTR) is a region with dynamic exchanges between terrestrial and aquatic environments. The pCTR is a large terrestrial carbon reservoir due to the accumulation of biomass combined with cool, wet climate conditions. The transfer of energy through precipitation drives rock and soil weathering further developing carbon turnover and storage dynamics. Future changes in temperature and precipitation patterns are predicted to alter the current terrestrial conditions with uncertain cumulative watershed impacts. One of the notable features of this region is the close association of terrestrial biogeochemical reactions with flowing waters that feed coastal estuaries and oceans with soluble terrestrial elements and compounds. Understanding current conditions and predicting future flows of materials from terrestrial landscapes to freshwater and coastal saltwater is a critical information need due to the human use of terrestrial and coastal foods, notably Pacific salmon.

This opportunity will provide an experience to explore chemical patterns in soils and freshwaters that flow into coastal saltwaters. The participant will gain applied science skills from interdisciplinary scientists and land managers coordinated through the PNWRS Auke Lake Field Station. The participant will conduct research using long-term datasets collected at a soil hydrologic observatory by the PNWRS and partners at the University of Alaska, USGS, and Tongass National Forest. The participant will collaborate with scientists developing models to investigate patterns of material derived from weathering soils that are delivered to flowing waters. The participant will gain experience in combining long-term datasets with models for prediction of present and future constituent loads of elements and compounds from soils to water. A focus will be placed on the cycling of carbon due to the enormous terrestrial carbon stock present in the coastal forest and the potential for delivery or reactive carbon to nearshore coastal waters. In addition, elements such as silica and iron will be examined through the data from the observatory.

Under the guidance of a mentor, the participant will gain experience through hands-on learning in the following activities:

  • Creating a project design with a definition of project area, expected data products, reporting and outreach plan and expected results (acceptable techniques) for constituent load modeling;
  • Using data to parameterize, validate, and verify a spatially explicit constituent load model to predict patterns of element and nutrient flow from watersheds to estuaries in the Alaska drainage basin;
  • Presenting results and data interpretations to scientists, land managers, and stakeholders;
  • Coordinating and developing a collaborative approach to working across diverse landscapes, landtype use, and effectively communicating results to partners to enhance use of data products.

Anticipated Appointment Start Date: November 16, 2020

This program, administered by ORAU through its contract with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to manage the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE), was established through an interagency agreement between DOE and USFS. The initial appointment is for eight months, but may be renewed upon recommendation of USFS and is contingent on the availability of funds. The participant will receive a monthly stipend commensurate with educational level and experience. Proof of health insurance is required for participation in this program. The appointment will be full-time. Participants do not become employees of USDA, USFS, DOE or the program administrator, and there are no employment-related benefits.

This opportunity is available to U.S. citizens only.

For more information about the USFS Research Participation Program, please visit the Program Website.


The qualified candidate should have received a doctoral degree in one of the relevant fields. Degree must have been received within five years of the appointment start date.

Preferred skills:

  • Highly organized and efficiently skilled at handling and manipulating large data sets
  • Experience with data organization, coding, and modeling in R
  • Experience with GIS platforms including raster-based data sets and data manipulation
  • Experience with chemical reactions and chemistries of ionic solutions including fresh- and saltwaters
  • Some experience with long-term research
  • Excellent writing skills

Eligibility Requirements

  • Citizenship: U.S. Citizen Only
  • Degree: Doctoral Degree received within the last 60 month(s).
  • Discipline(s):
    • Earth and Geosciences (2 )
    • Environmental and Marine Sciences (2 )
    • Other Physical Sciences (4 )