Summer student position: Developing protocols for socioeconomic monitoring in the Gulf of Mexico

Position Summary

We are looking for a student to join the Ecosystem Services Program at the Nicholas Institute, focusing on the Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem Service Logic Models & Socio-Economic Indicators (GEMS) project.  The objective of this project is to advance standardized metrics of restoration success in the Gulf of Mexico, focusing on the benefits that coastal restoration projects create for people and communities.

During spring 2020, the GEMS team developed a set of metrics for important socioeconomic outcomes expected to occur due to water quality projects and habitat restoration projects in the Gulf of Mexico region.  Water quality projects include approaches to manage storm water runoff and improve wastewater treatment; key socioeconomic outcomes are human health effects (e.g., waterborne bacterial disease, seafood-associated disease), economic activity related to tourism, and costs of drinking water and wastewater treatment.  Habitat restoration projects include beach renourishment, marsh restoration, and mangrove restoration; key socioeconomic outcomes are shoreline and property protection and social impacts of climate change.  

To make the final set of socioeconomic metrics easier for project developers and funders to incorporate, the next step is to write up more detailed protocols for measuring each of these metrics.

This student will be reporting to Ecosystem Services Program policy associates and under the guidance of program director Lydia Olander.  The student may also work with faculty and student collaborators at Duke and external collaborators.  This is a full-time (40 hours/week) paid position for summer 2020.

Work during the summer will include:

  • Literature research to identify standard methods used to measure socioeconomic metrics
  • Investigating available data sources, including government databases, that can be used to model or estimate socioeconomic metrics
  • Identifying and speaking with experts in relevant fields to get more information about methods and data for socioeconomic metrics
  • Drafting detailed metrics protocols and refining draft protocols based on feedback from the project team and experts
  • Contributing to writing and editing of other project products


  • Knowledge of socioeconomic measurement approaches, including survey instruments
  • Ability to read and summarize scientific literature and technical materials
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Strong organizational and interpersonal skills
  • Familiarity with the concept of ecosystem services
  • Interest in habitat restoration, water quality issues, and their impacts on people and communities

To Apply

To apply, please send your resume or CV and a cover letter to Donna Brown,  

We will begin interviewing Monday, February 24th on a rolling basis.


The intent of this job description is to provide a representation of the types and level of duties and responsibilities that will be required of positions given this title. It shall not be construed as a declaration of all specific duties and responsibilities of the particular position, as 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 also makes good faith efforts to recruit, hire, and promote qualified women, minorities, individuals with disabilities, and veterans.