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Company: The Nature Conservancy
Location: Portland, OR
Career Level: Director
Industries: Government, Nonprofit, Education


Job Title Urban Tree Conservation Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Job ID 48714 Location Oregon Full/Part Time   Favorite Job Regular/Temporary Regular OFFICE LOCATION

Portland, Oregon, USA



Portland State University & The Nature Conservancy
Urban Tree Conservation Postdoctoral Research Fellowship

The Digital City Testbed Center (DCTC) at Portland State University (PSU) is seeking a postdoctoral research fellow (“postdoc”) to work in partnership with the Sustaining Urban Places Research (SUPR) Lab and The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) Oregon Chapter to help develop the scientific foundations for improved and equitable urban tree conservation across the Portland metropolitan area and as a national model.

DCTC is a PSU initiative focused on “smart city” applications—the use of sensor networks, cloud computing, analytics and artificial intelligence to improve the functioning of city governments and the quality of life for urban residents. Most such programs concentrate on the built environment—buildings, roads, bridges, the electric grid, telecom systems, etc. The current postdoc position is part of an effort to expand the smart-city paradigm to monitor and improve cities’ non-physical, arboreal infrastructure.

The goal of the position is to guide the development of resilient and sustainable land management through hyperlocal descriptions of urban trees and supporting management decision making. The postdoc will work in collaboration with PSU faculty in the DCTC and SUPR Lab, TNC staff and other local and national partners, to: (1) Develop protocols using LiDAR, hyperspectral, and other regional datasets for assessing the distribution and characteristics of urban trees; (2) Conduct spatial and statistical analyses to evaluate the effect of urban trees on human and ecological health (likely with additional support from graduate or undergraduate students and external partners); and (3) Lead “spatial action mapping” of urban tree conservation strategies for equitable human health outcomes in the Portland metropolitan region. The postdoc will be expected to communicate results through workshops with partners, peer-reviewed journal articles, conference presentations, and briefings with government and elected officials.

Research Objective: The postdoc’s research agenda will have three components: (1) Review literature and relevant datasets to identify techniques for assessing urban tree health, which here refers to how trees are affected by physical stressors such as air pollution, extreme temperatures, soil impoverishment, drought, and insect infestation; (2) Use existing LiDAR and hyperspectral imagery to develop metrics of tree health that are consistent with the literature and with local and regional datasets collected from 2014 through 2019; and (3) Integrate the evaluation of the urban canopy / tree health with additional existing data on the built urban environment, human health, and community values in a spatially explicit formal decision support / structured decision-making framework to guide urban tree conservation strategies (tree planting, preservation, and maintenance) across the Portland metropolitan region. The resulting “spatial action maps” will be collaboratively developed with key community-based organizations, municipal agencies including the Metro Regional Government, the Intertwine Alliance, and other NGOs in order to provide a comprehensive and cohesive regional vision for trees and equitable human health outcomes.

The regional scale of the project offers a unique opportunity to assess changes in tree health through time. These analyses will be highly resolved, requiring a good understanding of spatial analysis techniques, land cover change assessments, remote sensing, and inferential statistics that help to explain changes in urban forest health. Similarly, passage of the Portland metro region voter approved 2019 Nature for All bond provides a timely and unique opportunity to inform substantial regional scale investments in urban tree conservation.

In funding and managing this position, the DCTC is collaborating with the SUPR Lab and TNC to maintain an interdisciplinary focus on the interactions between sustainable ecosystems and human communities, with faculty and researchers spanning the social, biological, and physical sciences. PSU has over 27,000 students (including nearly 6,000 graduate students) and 124 post-graduate programs hosted in eight schools and colleges. PSU’s campus is located in vibrant downtown Portland, 90 minutes’ drive from the Pacific Coast, the Cascade Mountains, and the Columbia River Gorge. PSU’s location gives faculty, postdocs, and students easy access to a range of community and agency (from the city through the federal level) partners, a diversity of cultural experiences, awardwinning public transportation, a strong biking culture, and a network of urban trails and natural areas.

TNC is the world’s largest conservation non-governmental organization, striving to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. The research associate will work as part of the Conservancy’s Oregon science team and will have opportunities to connect and network with Conservancy scientists across the globe.

Start date: by July 1st, 2020
Term: The initial appointment is for 1-year (1.00 FTE); funding exists for a 1-year renewal based on

Compensation: The starting annual salary rate for this position will be between $52,704 (0 years
exp) - $64,008 (7 years exp). The starting salary will be dependent upon the years of experience in a
postdoctoral position. PSU’s excellent benefits package includes 95% premium paid healthcare; a
generous retirement and vacation package; and reduced tuition rates for employee, spouse or
dependent at any of the Oregon Public Universities.

Requirements: Candidate for the position must have a PhD in natural resource management,
ecological planning, environmental science, geography, ecology, forestry, or other related discipline.

  • Demonstrated scientific writing and communication skills;
  • Recent experience with quantitative data analysis (GIS, R, Python, etc.); and
  • Demonstrated interdisciplinary experience.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Prior experience/ training in climate-human-ecosystem interactions to impact management and decision making from local to global scales;
  • Prior experience/ training in the co-generation of knowledge with stakeholders in need of management solutions;
  • Experience with theory integration and/ or analysis of large data sets;
  • Development of spatially-relevant web-based applications; and
  • Experience facilitating small to medium sized meetings with academic and external partners.
  • Experience working directly with external partners on collaborative / co-developed scientific projects.

Questions: Dr.Vivek Shandas (, Dr. Ryan Haugo (

To apply: Please submit your application to the Portland State University employment website at

The following materials will be required for your application:

  • Cover letter describing your scholarly interest and relevant experience
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Writing sample of 1 or more relevant publications
  • Three names of references who can speak directly to the research capacity of the individual (including, name, phone number, email, and relationship)

Applications review will begin around June 8th, 2020.

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