Post-Doctoral Associate (ecosystem services scientist)-The Nature Conservancy

In 2011, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) embarked on a five-year, $10M collaboration with Dow Chemical Company (Dow) to help companies recognize, value and incorporate biodiversity and ecosystem services into global business goals, decisions and strategies. A central focus of the TNC-Dow Collaboration is initiatives at three pilot sites to implement and refine models that support corporate decision-making related to the value and resources that nature provides to business.

The Post-Doctoral Associate will support research at the second pilot site in Brazil, which aims to develop a methodology and tools to guide business and land use decisions to maximize agricultural (sugar cane) production and biodiversity and ecosystem services through forest restoration. This site is a joint venture of Dow and Mitsui & Co. Ltd, of Tokyo, Japan, called Santa Vití³ria Açíºcar e ílcool (SVAA), and is located in Santa Vití³ria in the heart of the agricultural frontier of Brazil. When fully operational, SVAA will be one of the largest integrated facilities for producing biopolymers (polyethylene) derived from renewable sugar cane. Collaboration research will focus on improving land use decision-making around the placement of sugar cane fields and required forest restoration to meet the requirements of Brazil’s Forest Code in SVAA’s 200,000 hectare licensing area. Pilot analyses will include modeling of sugarcane expansion, legal requirements of the Forest Code, habitat connectivity/viability, and ecosystem services including water quality (including sediment and nutrient loads), water quantity and carbon sequestration. Economic, ecological and ecosystem service models will be integrated to develop and test different scenarios to examine conservation, planning and economic implications for varying land use and restoration options. Scenarios will be used to evaluate trade-offs among sugarcane production, biodiversity, and the supply of specific ecosystem services in spatial, biophysical, and economic value terms.

Job Description:

The Post-Doctoral Associate will lead the economic valuation components of the Brazil pilot research. He/she will work closely with other TNC scientists/corporate practices leaders and business managers from Dow and SVAA, as well as interfacing with modelers at the Natural Capital Project and other partner organizations.

The Post-Doctoral Associate will be an employee of The Nature Conservancy for one year, with potential to extend to two years. He/she will report to lead scientists of the TNC-Dow Collaboration pilot site in Brazil (senior scientists in TNC’s Development by Design program and Atlantic Forest & Central Savannas program in Brazil). He/she will be co-supervised by a university faculty (Steve Polasky, University of Minnesota, or other appropriate).

The essential functions of this position include the following:

  • Quantitatively analyzing ecosystem services using appropriate economic valuation methods and providing technical support related to landscape analyses on sugar cane expansion and ecosystem services (i.e., nutrient/sediment retention and water supply)
  • Working with project team to spatially model and value sugar cane expansion, considering biophysical and logistical constraints as well as economic costs associated with production (spatial analysis/modeling experience preferred but not required).
  • Applying appropriate valuation tools and models to measure trade-offs among land use/restoration scenarios in both economic and biophysical terms.
  • Identifying priority sites for sugar cane and forest restoration based on ecosystem service benefits using, modifying, or developing optimization modeling tools/techniques.
  • Working with project team to produce landscape maps/evaluation methods and to integrate tools into appropriate business planning processes and decision making.
  • Communicating regularly with key Collaboration partners (Collaboration Project team, TNC personnel, Dow/Mitsui/SVAA business managers, and University/Natural Capital Project scientists) to convey and interpret key findings, maintain strong partnerships, and facilitate conservation-business learning.
  • Preparing results for presentations, reports, and peer-reviewed scientific publications.

Responsibilities:

  • Work with TNC, Dow, and SVAA personnel to lead economic valuation and provide technical support related landscape analyses on sugar cane expansion and water resources (i.e., nutrient/sediment retention and supply).
  • Apply appropriate valuation tools and models to measure trade-offs among land use/restoration scenarios in both economic and biophysical terms.
  • Work with TNC personnel to spatially model and value sugar cane expansion, considering biophysical and logistical constraints as well as economic costs associated with production.
  • Identify priority sites for sugar cane and forest restoration based on ecosystem service benefits using, modifying, or developing optimization modeling tools/techniques.
  • Work with TNC, SVAA and Dow personnel to produce landscape maps/evaluation methods and to integrate tools into appropriate business planning processes and decision making.
  • Communicate regularly with key Collaboration partners (Collaboration Project team, TNC personnel, Dow/Mitsui/SVAA business managers, and University/Natural Capital Project scientists) to convey and interpret key findings, maintain strong partnerships, and facilitate conservation-business learning.

Qualifications: A Ph.D. in environmental or natural resource economics, ecology, or related field. The following specific skills are required.

  • Demonstrated experience with applying economic valuation methods and knowledge of current trends in the field of ecosystem services and environmental economics.
  • Knowledge of statistical analysis and programs (e.g., R, SAS, MATLAB), particularly related to economic and environmental data.
  • Proficiency with ecosystem services valuation models and tools, relevant for agricultural crops and water resource modeling. Familiarity with InVEST models desirable.
  • Experience with optimization modeling techniques and tools.
  • Analytical skills including manipulating, analyzing, and interpreting spatial (vector and raster) data, landscape ecology and/or ecosystem service models and data are desirable. Experience working with Geographic Information Systems (including ArcGIS systems) desirable.
  • Ability to work on multiple projects simultaneously with professionals from a diverse background.
  • Strong written and oral communication skills. Peer reviewed publication record in relevant discipline(s) strongly desirable.
  • International experience and Portuguese or Spanish language skills are desirable.

This position also requires:

  • Ability to travel in both the US and internationally.
  • Flexibility to work long hours during deadline periods.

How to Apply: Apply through The Nature Conservancy Careers

Apply to position number 40466, submit resume and cover letter as one document.

All applications must be submitted in the system prior to 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on October 28, 2012.

For more information, contact Christina Kennedy, The Nature Conservancy, Email: ckennedy@tnc.org, Phone: (970) 484-9598

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