SESYNC Postdoctoral Fellowship - Supply Chain Commitments

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May 31, 2017


The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) invites applications from early career scholars for a two-year postdoctoral fellowship that begins in August 2017. The fellow will be in residence at SESYNC in Annapolis, MD as a full participant in SESYNC’s Post-doctoral Immersion Program and will have Dr. Rachael Garrett of Boston University and Dr. Kimberly Carlson of University of Hawaii as Collaborating Research Mentors. Drs. Garrett and Carlson are leading a SESYNC Pursuit focused on zero-forest commitments, commodity flows, and land use change in South America. Travel funds are available for the fellow to visit with their mentors and to attend scientific conferences. 

This opportunity is open to applicants who have completed their PhD in a relevant field within the last two years (no later than July 15, 2017 and no earlier than August 15, 2015). Applicants are expected to propose ideas for a data synthesis or modeling project that contributes to our understanding of the effectiveness of zero-deforestation commitments in reducing the environmental impacts of agricultural expansion in South America.  Preference will be given to projects that have the potential to advance understanding of socio-environmental systems and thus projects that involve the incorporation of other social or environmental data sets are encouraged. The Fellow will conduct independent scholarship related to the project leading to one or more research papers.

The SESYNC Immersion Program is designed to advance the fellows’ understanding of theories and methods foundational to research on socio-environmental systems and to advance their understanding of the science-policy nexus. Successful candidates will have made clear in their applications how progress on their proposed projects may benefit from participation in the Immersion Program and/or how the program aligns with their specific career objectives. 

Supply Chains and Zero-deforestation Commitments: Expansion of globally traded commodities is the leading cause of tropical forest loss. Recent campaigns by NGOs have incentivized major corporations to make commitments to exclude products associated with deforestation from their supply chains. To achieve these goals, companies are increasing supply chain transparency and traceability, sourcing certified products, and working directly with producers to change land use practices. Yet, the effects of such corporate policies on producer behavior and environmental outcomes remain unclear. If zero-deforestation commitments are limited in geographical and product scope or exclude certain types of forests, they may fail to achieve stated objectives. To address these gaps, an interdisciplinary SESYNC synthesis team led by Dr. Rachael Garrett (Boston University; and Dr. Kimberly Carlson (University of Hawaii; leverages datasets on the geospatial fingerprint of zero-deforestation commitments, commodity flows, and land use change in South America to assess the impacts of zero-deforestation commitments on farmer behavior and land use change at a regional scale, as well as potential displacement of land use change worldwide.  The research involves data synthesis, modeling, and analysis to assess interactions between zero-deforestation commitments, public policies and tropical land cover dynamics and identify enabling conditions to improve the likelihood that commitments will achieve stated goals. The work focuses primarily on soy in South America, a leading driver of tropical deforestation in the region.

Successful applicants will have a background in natural resource management, agricultural economics, ecology, or similar field with strong geo-spatial and statistical expertise and programming abilities. Excellent communication, writing, and organizational skills are needed.  Those with experience in Dinamica EGO or other spatial simulation software are especially well qualified for the position. Individuals who speak Portuguese or Spanish, have lived in South America, have worked for environmental advocacy organizations or industries related to tropical commodities are encouraged to apply.  


Applying is a two-stage process: a qualification step and a proposal submission step. 

To Qualify to Apply, submit a combined PDF of your C.V. and a detailed cover letter to SESYNC's webform. The letter should: 1) “describe two or three pressing research questions related to how commodity chains influence land use and socio-environmental outcomes” (< 1/2 page); 2) provide in detail the qualifications that make the candidate competitive for the postdoctoral project(s) (<1/2 page); and, 3) how this project and an interdisciplinary fellowship will advance the candidate’s career trajectory (<1/2 page).  Qualifying Applications may be submitted until 5:00 pm Eastern Time (ET) on May 31, 2017; applicants will be informed within a week if they are invited to submit a full proposal and if so, will be given instructions.    

Invited full proposals (< 5 pages) are due June 22, 2017 at 5:00 pm EDT. 

Invited applicants that have not yet received their PhD are required to submit a letter from their graduate advisor or a committee member along with the full proposal. The letter should verify expectations for date of degree completion.  Invited applicants will also need to arrange to have two letters of reference sent directly from referee to SESYNC by the June 15 deadline.  


Submission Instructions: 

The University of Maryland is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Minorities and Women Are Encouraged to Apply

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