The Western Forest and Fire Initiative (WFFI), based at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability, invites applications for several one-year Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in behavioral, socio-cultural, economic, political, technical, and/or ecological aspects of wildfire risk. The successful candidates will join a transdisciplinary working group organized to understand and develop strategies for managing fire-prone forests and human communities in the western U.S. as an integrated social-environmental system. Each fellow will undertake a one-year focused research project that culminates in a practical policy recommendation and a scholarly journal article. The project will entail an in-depth problem analysis of one aspect of wildfire risk that also recognizes larger complex system dynamics. The exact challenge and analytical approach will be identified and developed in collaboration with practitioners and experts convened through the WFFI.

Start date: June 2022 (flexible)

Term: One year, 1.00 FTE

Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan (flexible)

Salary: $53,000 (benefits eligible)

Institution: University of Michigan

Qualifications: Ideal applicants will be scholars with a Ph.D. in an interdisciplinary field and experience working on wildfire, forest or land management, or community socio-economic development issues in the western US. Other helpful training and skills include:

  • Formal training and research experience in behavioral science; sociology; anthropology; economics; engineering; politics, policy, and planning; climate science; or ecosystem science
  • Exposure to or experience with interdisciplinary research, stakeholder engagement, knowledge co-production
  • Familiarity with forest, wildfire, climate change, and/or community socio-economic issues

The Western Forest and Fire Initiative at University of Michigan

The hires will work as part of the Western Forest and Fire Initiative (WFFI) at the University of Michigan, a project made possible with support from Kathy and Steve Berman. The WFFI is a multi-disciplinary team of faculty, students, and postdoctoral fellows from the fields of ecology, engineering, economics, policy and planning, and behavioral sciences. The overarching goal of the WFFI is to improve society’s ability to mitigate the risks of large wildfires, exacerbated by climate change, to western forests and communities in forested areas. The WFFI aims to serve as a research hub and a bridging organization, working closely with practitioners and other researchers in the US West to identify research questions and undertake intensive problem analyses to answer those questions. The WFFI will pursue four main objectives:

  1. Improve scientific understanding of fire-prone forests and communities as a social-ecological system, and how to manage forests and communities as such under changing climate conditions.
  2. Support the network of west-wide stakeholders in communicating and coordinating their programmatic and policy efforts around forest management, fire risk, community socio-economic development, and climate change.
  3. Build the capacity of future scholars to work on fire-prone forest and community issues in the West from a complex adaptive systems perspective.
  4. Create a robust agenda and set of strategies for policy and management changes.

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To apply, please submit the following in a single PDF file to [email protected] with “WFFI postdoc application” in the subject line:

  • Cover letter describing your relevant experience and scholarly interests
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Relevant publications
  • References (to be contacted after an initial interview)

Applications will be considered beginning January 5, 2022, and until the position is filled.

The University of Michigan is an equal opportunity employer.