Job Postings

Postdoc on Agent-based Modeling of Citizen Science Data

Search: We are looking for a post-doctoral researcher, with a strong social science background and previous experience in agent-based modeling, to join our interdisciplinary team that aims to better understand the interactions between ticks, tick borne disease, forest management and human behavior using citizen science data.

Background: Our project, “Developing Adaptive Forest Management Practices to Mitigate Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health,” is funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. We are led by Drs. Allie Gardner (School of Biology & Ecology), Carly Sponarski (Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Conservation Biology), Jessica Leahy (School of Forest Resources), Anne Lichtenwalner (School of Food and Agriculture), and Laura Kenefic (USDA Forest Service). This post-doctoral researcher will be mentored by Drs. Jessica Leahy and Carly Sponarski, with support from the rest of team, and will have opportunities to interact with graduate and undergraduate project participants as well as citizen science and science communication specialists.

Resilient agroecosystems have both healthy forests and healthy forest workers. Our project integrates natural and social science research, extension, and education to develop and test adaptive land management practices to protect private forest landowners, foresters, and loggers against exposure to tick-borne disease and to manage the spread and persistence of tick-borne disease in the forest landscape. Due to climate change, Maine has experienced a five-fold increase in incidence of Lyme disease over the past decade, providing an urgent need and a unique socio-ecological context to investigate the effects of forest management on infectious disease transmission. Forest workers are at particularly high risk of contracting tickborne disease due to their high occupational exposure to ticks and low perceptions of tickborne disease risk. We are conducting applied ecological research to understand the impact of timber harvesting on risk of exposure to tick-borne disease and the causal mechanisms underlying observed patterns. We are also conducting applied social science research to understand the economic, environmental, and production factors that influence private forest landowners’ decision-making processes related to land management and tick-borne disease prevention. A key integrated dataset emerging from this project is our citizen science data which will include quantitative social science surveys and tick abundance and pathogen infection prevalence data. Combined, we hope our results will be used to inform practical recommendations to mitigate the impacts of climate change on tick-borne disease transmission that are based on scientific data and compatible with landowners’ interests. Our goal for the post-doctoral researcher is to use the citizen science data to create an agent-based model that explores this coupled social-ecological system and contributes to overall project goals.

Desired Knowledge, Skills & Qualifications:
• PhD in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources, Agriculture or Forests; Natural Resources Management; Environmental Economics; Environmental Anthropology; Ecology and Environmental Sciences; Forest Resources; Rural Sociology or related field. • Prior research experience with agent-based modeling. • Prior research experience with quantitative applied social science research. • Strong interpersonal and communication skills. • Ability to develop manuscripts and deliver presentations. • Ability to work effectively with a wide range of stakeholders.

Essential Duties & Responsibilities: • Plan and conduct assigned and/or original research projects independently while working collaboratively with project team members. • Maintain accurate records and management of research data, analysis, and findings. • Prepare manuscripts for publication in collaboration with project team members. • Present research findings at professional meetings. • Mentor graduate and undergraduate students. • Perform safety and environmental management for students and staff. • Assist with formal teaching in areas of expertise. • Perform other reasonably related duties as assigned.

Start Date & Term Length: Desired start date is January 1, 2021 with the possibility of beginning as early as September 1, 2020. The project has 18 months of funding is available, with an end date of August 31, 2022.

Work Schedule: Normal business hours are Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. There may be occasional evening or weekend meetings with stakeholders. We expect the post-doctoral researcher to establish regular office hours in Nutting Hall with no more than one day per week of remote working, and, when necessary and in consultation with supervisors, adjust the work schedule as appropriate.

Background Checks and other Policies: Appropriate background checks are required. All UMS employees are required to comply with applicable policies and procedures, as well as to complete applicable workplace related screenings, and required employee trainings, such as Information Security, Safety Training, Workplace Violence, and Sexual Harassment.

Salary: Salary is $47,500/year (non-negotiable) with additional support for conference travel and research expenses.

To Apply:
Please submit a cover letter, CV and contact information for 3 references through the University of Maine’s HireTouch System ( Search for for id: 60404. Review of applications will begin April 15th, 2020 and continue until the position is filled. Interviewing and hiring will take place in early May 2020. Please reach out to Dr. Jessica Leahy ( with any questions.


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