Research Associate - Benefits of Natural and Working Lands

Location: Duke University (Durham, North Carolina)

Start date and duration: Start September 2024, 12 months with potential extension to 18 months.

The Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability at Duke University and the Gund Institute for Environment at University of Vermont seek an outstanding research associate to lead a project on the benefits of natural and working lands across the United States, including impacts of land management activities on conservation outcomes. The work is supported by federal funds and is already informing federal initiatives such as natural capital accounting and the Conservation and Stewardship Atlas.

The first year of work produced a rapid literature review and framework for future assessment, and a second phase of work is currently underway to conduct a more formal synthesis of the impacts of timber harvest on biodiversity and carbon outcomes, and the impact of fishing on biodiversity outcomes, across US land and water systems. In the first six months of work, the research associate will oversee completion of the timber harvest meta-analyses (currently in progress) and lead the fishing meta-analysis. We will then move into the next phase of work, which will combine geospatial data with information from the previously completed rapid literature review and meta-analysis to explore how these approaches complement each other to provide information about the benefits provided by natural and working lands under different management in the U.S., and where additional data are needed to fill gaps. The research associate will oversee several graduate student assistants providing support for this project.

The research associate will be based at Duke University under the guidance of Lydia Olander. Taylor Ricketts at the Gund Institute (University of Vermont) is an advisor on this project. The research associate will join the core project research team and fully participate in co-production of the research with our government partners.

The position is for a twelve-month term with potential to extend to eighteen months. A PhD in a related discipline or a master’s degree with additional experience is required; there is the potential for this role to be reclassified as a post-doctoral research associate if the selected candidate desires. Expertise in conservation science, experience managing/synthesizing large data sets, particularly those related to climate and biodiversity, and geospatial analysis skills are required. Data management and analysis using Excel, R, MetaWin, and ArcGIS Pro is preferred. Previous experience working with government stakeholders is desirable.

To Apply


Submit your CV, a statement of research interest, and names of two references to We will begin evaluating applications in May, please apply before May 31 to ensure full consideration.

About the Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability

The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions has merged with the Duke University Energy Initiative to create a new organization: the Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability. Working closely with Duke University schools and other units, the Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability advances the university’s mission to build a more sustainable world by developing transformative educational experiences; galvanizing and conducting impactful research; and engaging with key decision makers at the global, national, state, and local levels.

About the Gund Institute for Environment

The Gund Institute for Environment at the University of Vermont is a research center dedicated to understanding and tackling the world’s most critical environmental challenges. Driven by the belief that research should inspire action, the Institute takes a cross-sector approach to solving environmental issues with stakeholders from government, business, and broader society. With over 200 scholars in Vermont and across the world, the Institute brings together a network of internationally recognized researchers from diverse disciplines, including the natural and social sciences, business, health, technology, engineering, and the humanities.

The intent of this job description is to provide a representative and level of the types of duties and responsibilities that will be required of positions given this title and shall not be construed as a declaration of the total of the specific duties and responsibilities of any particular position. Employees may be directed to perform job-related tasks other than those specifically presented in this description.

Duke University is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer committed to providing employment opportunity without regard to an individual's age, color, disability, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status.

Duke aspires to create a community built on collaboration, innovation, creativity, and belonging. Our collective success depends on the robust exchange of ideas-an exchange that is best when the rich diversity of our perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences flourishes. To achieve this exchange, it is essential that all members of the community feel secure and welcome, that the contributions of all individuals are respected, and that all voices are heard. All members of our community have a responsibility to uphold these values.

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