PhD Assistantships, University of California, Merced

Merced, CA

Organization: Graduate Division Environmental Systems, University of California, Merced

Contact: Dr. Jeffrey Jenkins

Duties: The emerging School of Management at University of California, Merced is seeking 2-3 highly qualified applicants who are committed to pursuing a PhD focused on research related to natural resource management in the Sierra Nevada, in one of two areas:

1) Landscape values mapping, indicators of human well-being, and resilience. The PhD student will engage with the literature on human well-being, cultural ecosystem services, and resiliency in socio-ecological systems to co-design research that seeks to better understand the links between climatically-induced stressors (e.g. drought, fire, tree disease), vulnerability that may emerge from over reliance on an un-diversified portfolio of ecosystem service types, and the adaptive capacity of recreational and resource-dependent land users. The student will have an interest in environmental planning as it relates to USFS and NPS natural resource management plans. GIS capabilities are greatly preferred, and database management or experience with participatory mapping are an additional plus.

2) Diversity in the outdoors, conservation engagement, and rural economies. The PhD student will engage with the literature on environmental justice, conservation psychology, and diversity in the outdoors to co-design research that seeks to better understand the links between access to nature for youth and economically underserved populations, conservation practices and environmental behaviors, and rural economic development proximate to public lands. The context for this research emanates from the Department of Interior and Obama administration campaign to increase diversity in public lands attendance and management, and highlight the role that protected areas provide in sustaining rural economies. Experience with database management, stakeholder engagement, and GIS are greatly preferred.

Potential candidates should be highly motivated to engage with research on one (or a combination) of the themes outlined above. Those interested should highlight their experience relevant to the above position(s). Candidates should demonstrate an ability and willingness to collaboratively conduct: literature reviews, research design (theoretical, methodological, empirical), digital data collection and analysis (e.g. census, zoning, environmental data), field data collection (e.g. hydrological, ecological), stakeholder group engagement, GIS data collection and analysis, and writing of peer-reviewed manuscripts.

The successful candidates will apply through the Environmental Systems Graduate Group and work under the guidance of Dr. Jeffrey Jenkins.

Desired qualifications:


* Participate in group lab activities, and contribute to a vibrant university community by actively engaging with interdisciplinary researchers in the natural and social sciences.

* Research duties: Conduct literature reviews, contribute to research design and analysis, support GIS data collection and analysis, contribute to or lead academic peer-reviewed publications, present at conferences, and support website design.

* The position is in large part funded through teaching assistantships, and candidates should be comfortable with balancing these instructional duties throughout their graduate career.

* Maintain good graduate standing and make satisfactory progress toward completion of the PhD degree (normative time approximately 5 years).


* Potential candidates must meet admission standards and be fully accepted into the Environmental Systems Graduate Group program ( – priority deadline December 15th, 2016, regular deadline January 15th, 2017.

* Candidates must have highly positive recommendations from previous positions.

* Prior undergraduate and/or graduate research experience in human-environment geography, political ecology, environmental studies, environmental sociology, environmental planning, conservation psychology, or a related discipline is preferable as are familiarity with GIS, database management, and stakeholder communication.

Link to more information: Contact Dr. Jeffrey Jenkins