Post Doctoral Fellow (Environmental Anthropology)

Southern Methodist University

Dallas, TX, United States 🇺🇸

Job Summary:


The SMU Department of Anthropology and PI Dr. Maryann R. Cairns are seeking an outstanding postdoctoral researcher to participate in the MERA Research Project, funded by the National Science Foundation Coastal SEES Program. The project is focused on the transdisciplinary study of wastewater pollution and human health risk in a coastal tourism area of Costa Rica. The position is for one year, with the possibility of an additional one year extension based on continued grant funding and performance goals. (2 years total). Appointment is scheduled to start in January 2018.


The successful candidate will carry out research that examines socio-ecological interactions in polluted waterscapes, giving specific attention to the sustainability and efficacy of infrastructure development, perceptions of risk, the impacts of tourism, and environmental health. Of particular interest are scholars with regional experience in Central America. Spanish proficiency required. Scholars with research experience on issues such as climate change, biodiversity, water, pollution, natural resource management, tourism, infrastructure, environmental health impacts, and other related areas are encouraged to apply. Experience with mobile technologies for research and data collection, GIS, risk assessment, or modeling is a plus. This position requires approximately 6 months of fieldwork in Costa Rica.

The Cairns Lab is a new and growing environmental anthropology research lab focused on environment, health, and infrastructure—and especially access to resources in polluted spaces. The ideal candidate will be interested in joining a transdisciplinary research team focused on engaged research and innovative methods. The postdoctoral researcher can expect training and mentorship from the PI related to the research project and their professional development. The successful applicant will be expected to contribute to the training and mentorship of more junior lab members.


A nationally ranked private university located near the heart of Dallas, Texas. SMU is a global research university that also has a strong liberal arts tradition. SMU’s 11,000 diverse, high-achieving students come from all 50 states and 90 countries to take advantage of the University’s small classes, hands-on research opportunities, leadership development, community service, international study and innovative programs. The University offers a strong foundation in the humanities and sciences and undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs through seven schools.


The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is the nation’s fourth largest metropolitan area and home to 6.8 million residents. More than 346,000 are students in area universities and colleges, including community colleges.  Dallas ranks fifth in the number of Fortune 500 company headquarters and is the fifth largest media market in the United States.



Essential Functions:

  • Collects, analyses, and interprets data as directed by PI independently or with little supervision.
  • Anticipates and helps resolve problems that may affect research objectives and deadlines.
  • Conducts and oversees research with human participants in research, adhering to disciplinary standards and ethical guidelines regarding such research.
  • Summarizes completed protocols and studies, writes scientific articles and manuscripts under the guidance of the PI.
  • Other duties as assigned




Education and Experience:


Seeking a highly motivated candidate who has obtained, or is about to obtain, a Ph.D. in Anthropology, Environmental Sociology, Environmental History, or other related field. Degree should be awarded prior to the position’s start date. Applicants are chosen based on scholarly potential and their ability to contribute to the research aims.



Physical/Environmental Demands:

  • Bend
  • Crawl
  • Squat
  • Stand
  • Climb
  • Walk for long distances
  • Carry/lift 25 lbs.
  • Handle objects (dexterity)
  • Push/pull
  • Sit for long periods of time
  • Exposure to marked changes in temperature or humidity
  • Work in confined quarters

Deadline to Apply:


The position is open until filled.


Initial review of applications will begin November 25, 2017, and review will continue until filled. For applicants attending the AAA meetings, initial informational meetings may be available. All candidates may contact the PI at [email protected] for further information or questions about the position.


Applicants should submit a cover letter, a full CV, and a list of three references. After initial review, reference letters will be requested from finalists.


EEO Statement:

SMU will not discriminate in any program or activity on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, genetic information, veteran status, sexual orientation, or gender identity and expression. The Executive Director for Access and Equity/Title IX Coordinator is designated to handle inquiries regarding nondiscrimination policies and may be reached at the Perkins Administration Building, Room 204, 6425 Boaz Lane, Dallas, TX 75205, 214-768-3601, [email protected].