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Post-doctoral research scientist

Urban Forest Institute
San Luis Obispo, California
Closing date
May 2, 2024

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Urban ecosystem ecology, Other
Job Type
Postdoc, Researcher
Organization Type

An opportunity is open for a post-doctoral research scientist to work on climate adapted tree selection for California’s urban forests. The position is based at the Urban Forest Institute (UFI) and California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, CA.


About UFI

The Urban Forest Institute’s mission is to use science to create thriving urban and community forests now and into the future. Specifically, we carry out this mission by conducting research and generating science-based resources to help communities manage their urban forest in a sustainable and resilient way. Drawing together expertise from biology, geography, computer science, and economics, we use an interdisciplinary approach to create publicly available tools that empower communities to solve urban forestry challenges.


Currently, we are seeking a post-doctoral researcher to assist on a project that aims to (1) identify California’s most vulnerable urban forests and determine which climate-adapted tree species are best suited for California’s most disadvantaged communities, (2) leverage an existing and widely-used web based tree selection guide, SelecTree, to provide this information to communities, (3) develop and provide resources and training to stakeholders about climate-adapted species selection and care, and (4) to leverage existing relationships with large-scale nurseries to ensure supply of climate-adapted trees as well as connect grantees to these nurseries so they can effectively source appropriate species. This position will be primarily responsible for conducting climate niche modeling for tree species. A successful candidate will have skills in manipulating large datasets such as climate data and species occurrence data, and strong geo-spatial skills in ArcGIS and R. Experience with novel methods of climate niche modeling is required.


Position Description

The position will support the research, resource development, and education goals of UFI. They will be working under the direction of Dr. Matt Ritter. They will collaborate closely with state and federal agencies, industry groups, academic institutions, and other nonprofits to carry out the goals of various UFI projects. This position will offer opportunities for mentorship, professional development, and networking. Publications are expected.


The position is potentially a good fit for those with experience in several fields including, but not limited to, biology, geography, ecology, forestry, urban forestry, urban planning, climate science, and/or environmental science. Successful candidates will be organized, highly curious, self-starting, competent scientists, and problem solvers who are comfortable operating and communicating in a variety of settings.


This is a 2-year position with opportunities for extension. Remote work is possible, but the candidate will be expected to make a minimum of quarterly trips to San Luis Obispo, CA. Conferences and research will also require travel which will be supported. Starting salary is dependent on expertise and experience, ranging between $70,000 and $75,000. Anticipated appointment start date is August 1st, 2024. Start date is flexible and will depend on a variety of factors.


Research activities may include:

  • Predictive climate modeling as it relates to urban forests Species niche modeling Analysis of urban forest health across California using existing datasets Tree species analysis and tree palette development Literature reviews Developing curriculum and online resources relevant to climate-adapted trees in California Attending and presenting at state and national conferences Providing education about climate adapted trees and urban forest resilience to a variety of audiences via workshops and webinars


Preferred skills/experience:

  • Received a PhD degree in the last 5 years Familiarity with urban forestry issues in California, particularly as they relate to climate change Interest and experience in applied research and education within urban forestry Excellent communication skills including scientific writing Experience managing and mentoring a research team including students Evidence of ability to publish research results in peer-reviewed journals Experimental design, project planning and delivery Demonstrated skills working with large quantitative data sets Strengths working with R and ArcGIS Strong programming and statistical skills Experience developing interactive web applications or data dashboards Experience with field work Ability to build relationships with existing and new collaborators in academic, governmental, professional and nonprofit settings.



To apply, please send the following materials to

  • Cover letter describing your relevant experience, qualifications, and interest in the position Resume/CV Contact information for two educational or professional recommendations

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