Citizen Science Postdoctoral Researcher

California Academy of Sciences San Francisco, California
Deadline 09/01/2018
Job Type Student / postdoc

The 18-month Postdoctoral Researcher (Postdoc) funded by the California Ocean Protection Council will design innovative approaches and analyses in support of marine protected area (MPA) management in California.  The Citizen Science Postdoc will focus on scientifically tractable questions specific to the management of California’s MPAs, California coastal ecology, Snapshot Cal Coast and other MPA outreach efforts, grounded in a) the State of California’s long-term MPA monitoring Action Plan and b) the continuing development and improvement of Snapshot Cal Coast and the use of the iNaturalist platform. We are interested in answering questions about California coastal ecology and changing ocean conditions, the integration of citizen science efforts into MPA management, and refinements to Academy citizen science efforts including but not limited to: investigating patterns in community structure and diversity, documenting and understanding implications of species range shifts, integrating species occurrence records with climate data, modeling species distributions, etc.

This project is a collaboration between the California Academy of Sciences (Academy), the California Ocean Protection Council (OPC), and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).  The Postdoc will be housed at the Academy and work directly with the Academy Citizen Science team. The Postdoc will also be mentored by OPC and CDFW staff. This unique position will provide opportunities for the Postdoc to develop innovative scientific approaches that directly affect marine resource management decisions in California as well as develop expertise in community engagement. The Postdoc will lead the development of data analyses that integrate citizen science-collected species occurrence (presence only) data and available environmental data (temperature, salinity, pH, etc.) to build predictive spatial models for coastal species using iNaturalist and other species occurrence data. The Postdoc will make recommendations in planning for future Snapshot Cal Coast events and ongoing citizen science data collection, as well as help determine best practices for incorporating iNaturalist and Snapshot Cal Coast data into MPA monitoring to inform MPA management.

The Citizen Science Department is within the Academy’s Institute for Biodiversity Science & Sustainability. The Citizen Science team at the Academy is led by two marine biologists. We are committed to developing a community of naturalists working together to document biodiversity, connecting people to their local nature and simultaneously collecting data critical to science and management. We accomplish these goals through a variety of programs including community bioblitzes, long-term intertidal monitoring, City Nature Challenge, and Snapshot Cal Coast, which scaffold collecting biodiversity observations using the iNaturalist platform with in-person citizen science field experiences. The Citizen Science team is also dedicated to building best practices around engagement through citizen science and is actively working on research related to science learning and development of environmental science agency through participation in citizen science. Academy Citizen Science has delivered a broad range of innovative projects since 2012, reaching thousands of people and collecting hundreds of thousands of species occurrence records throughout California and beyond.

The California Academy of Sciences welcomes people of all backgrounds, identities, and beliefs to join us in achieving our mission to explore, explain, and sustain life on Earth. We place diversity, equity, and inclusion at the heart of our recruiting efforts and strive to build a culture centered on mutual respect, equal treatment, and the opportunity to succeed.


  • Data analysis integrating community-gathered presence-only species occurrence records with environmental data to answer key research and management questions
  • Participation in the Academy’s rocky intertidal field work to become familiar with citizen science data collection
  • Critical thinking, creativity, and independence
  • Outreach to a variety of stakeholder groups, including data visualization and science communication (written and oral)
  • Technical report writing, publication, and communication at scientific conferences
  • Regular communication with the Academy Citizen Science Team, OPC, and CDFW
  • Travel to Sacramento and to stakeholders and partners along the California coast and presenting research results at conferences and meetings, as needed.
  • Ability to work early mornings, evenings, and weekends, as needed
  • Follow all Academy safety regulations
  • Other duties as assigned

To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required.


A qualified candidate will possess a combination of the following education and/or equivalent experience:

  • PhD degree in biology, ecology, marine science, statistics, bioinformatics, data science or related fields
  • Research expertise in spatial ecology, species distribution modeling, data visualization, mapping, museum collections data, etc.
  • Experience and/or interest in both advancing scientific frontiers and addressing real-world challenges in sustainable ocean resource management
  • Strong background in science communication with diverse audiences
  • A marine naturalist, someone who, in addition to these skills, cares deeply about California marine biodiversity and can communicate that passion


  • Proficiency in programming (python)
  • Experience in species distribution modeling is required
  • R: The R environment is required for modeling and analyzing species distributions, diversity, and community structure
  • GIS experience and an interest in telling stories with maps and data
  • Knowledge of how to work with Application Program Interfaces (APIs) to pull data
  • Experience and familiarity working with GitHub
  • Experience finding, working with, and integrating diverse data sets from different sources (environmental data, social science data, etc.)
  • A background in California nearshore marine biodiversity is preferred
  • Excellent writing and science communication skills
  • Confident and flexible communicator, both written and verbal, to diverse audiences
  • Excellent organizational skills and attention to detail
  • Ability to work independently, and as a team member
  • Ability to effectively work in interdisciplinary teams on cross-cutting issues
  • Demonstrated ability to successfully collaborate with non-scientists
  • Flexible and creative
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office and Google Apps
  • Reliable transportation and ability to travel throughout California

Ability to read and interpret documents such as safety rules, operating and maintenance instructions, and procedure manuals. Ability to write routine reports and correspondence. Ability to speak effectively before groups or individuals. Bilingual (spoken and/or written) in Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, or other non-English language preferred.

The physical demands and work environment described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. While performing the duties of this job, the employee is frequently required to stand, sit, walk, reach with hands and arms, talk and hear.  The employee will spend time out-of-doors (varies seasonally, 10-30% of the time) at events and programs, occasionally in hot or inclement weather. Must be able to lift 30 lbs. Must be able to perform repetitive motions 50% of the time.

Please apply online and include the following attachments: cover letter highlighting candidate’s motivation to apply, skills and science research background and expertise which support the application; detailed CV including a list of publications and other achievements; and names and contact details of three referees.Duration of position:
The successful candidate will be offered a position for 18 months initially, starting preferably before November 2018.

The California Academy of Sciences will consider for employment all qualified applicants with criminal histories in a manner consistent with the requirements of the San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance (SF Police Code, Article 49).

The California Academy of Sciences is an Equal Opportunity Employer and is committed to ensure that all employees and applicants receive equal consideration and treatment, regardless of race, color, creed, gender (including gender identity or gender expression), religion, marital or domestic partner status, age, national origin or ancestry, physical, mental or medical disability, sex, sexual orientation, citizenship, military service status, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by state or federal law or local ordinance.

The California Academy of Sciences is a non-smoking facility. Smoking is also prohibited in Golden Gate Park.


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