USFS Climate Change Research Fellow

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Job Type Paid Internship
Salary Details The stipend range is $63,508 or $69,777 per year, post-master's. or post-doctorate, respectively.
Deadline May 31, 2024

*Applications will be reviewed on a rolling-basis.

USFS Office/Lab and Location: A fellowship opportunity is available with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service (USFS) within the Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS) located in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

At the heart of the U.S. Forest Service's mission is their purpose. Everything they do is intended to help sustain forests and grasslands for present and future generations. Why? Because their stewardship work supports nature in sustaining life. This is the purpose that drives the agency’s mission and motivates their work across the agency. It’s been there from the agency’s very beginning, and it still drives them. To advance the mission and serve their purpose, the U.S. Forest Service balances the short and long-term needs of people and nature by: working in collaboration with communities and our partners; providing access to resources and experiences that promote economic, ecological, and social vitality; connecting people to the land and one another; and delivering world-class science, technology and land management.

The Fellow will be a part of the Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS) and Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center (WWETAC). The RMRS Research Station is a USDA Forest Service research center that delivers scientific knowledge and innovative technologies that inform policy and land-management decisions. WWETAC, which is housed at the Pacific Northwest (PNW) Research Station, is a Forest Service center that focuses on applied science and tools related to fire, drought, insects, invasive species, and climate change across the western United States.  The RMRS and WWETAC comprise a vibrant group of research scientists and technical specialists located around the Western United Stations.  

Research Project: In collaboration with WWETAC and RMRS team members, the Climate Change Research Fellow will facilitate development of new knowledge following principles of science-management partnerships to develop climate change vulnerability assessments and analyses for western landscapes including National Forests and Grasslands. Under guidance of an RMRS scientist, the Fellow will conduct research and develop tools and syntheses that help policymakers and land and watershed managers understand the effects of climate variability and change on natural resources, including water, soils, vegetation, wildlife habitat, cultural resources, and other ecosystem services. The Fellow will assemble, interpret, and disseminate data and information to provide options and priorities for managing natural resources in a changing climate. Projects may focus on interactive impacts of climate and other disturbances on a diverse set of landscapes and ecosystems. The participant will also assemble technical information, perform analyses, contribute to technical reports, and provide leadership in writing peer reviewed journal papers. 

A key role for the participant will be to collaborate with WWETAC and RMRS team members to generate products geared towards manager needs, who range from governmental to non-governmental institutions and include (among others) federal and state natural resource management agencies; Tribes; industrial and non-industrial private landowners; and national and international policymakers addressing natural resources. The Fellow will present concepts and research results to diverse groups, such as scientists, federal and state agency managers, tribal representatives, universities, and non-governmental organizations. This fellowship will play a critical role in bridging the gap between science and land management by facilitating development of accessible climate change vulnerability reports and analysis in order to develop tools and information that aid assessment of resources and implementation of adaptation planning. These activities will help promote the use of the best available science in natural resource management in the western U.S.

Learning Objectives: This fellowship provides learning opportunities to:

  • Learn about climate change science and cultural and natural resource management issues in the West while helping integrate climate change information into national forest planning and projects.
  • Gain first-hand knowledge of Forest Service Research & Development science and National Forest System management.
  • Develop technical and analytical skills.
  • Understand and facilitate interactions at the intersection between science and land management.

The Fellow will have the opportunity to interact with scientists in Forest Service research stations, and managers in the National Forest System and other land management agencies and entities. The Fellow may explore additional training opportunities available through the USFS system.

Mentor: The mentor for this opportunity is Jessica Halofsky (jessica.halofsky@usda.gov). If you have questions about the nature of the research, please contact the mentor.

Anticipated Appointment Start Date: June 2024.  Start date is flexible and will depend on a variety of factors.

Appointment Length: The appointment will initially be for one year but may be extended upon recommendation of USFS and is contingent on the availability of funds.

Level of Participation: The appointment is full time.

Participant Stipend: The participant will receive a monthly stipend commensurate with educational level and experience. The stipend range is $63,508 or $69,777 per year, post-master's. or post-doctorate, respectively.

Citizenship Requirements: This opportunity is available to U.S. citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR), and foreign nationals. Non-U.S. citizen applicants should refer to the Guidelines for Non-U.S. Citizens Details page of the program website for information about the valid immigration statuses that are acceptable for program participation.

ORISE Information: This program, administered by ORAU through its contract with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to manage the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE), was established through an interagency agreement between DOE and USFS. Participants do not become employees of USDA, USFS, DOE or the program administrator, and there are no employment-related benefits. Proof of health insurance is required for participation in this program. Health insurance can be obtained through ORISE.

Questions: Please visit our Program Website. After reading, if you have additional questions about the application process please email ORISE.USFS.PNWRS@orau.org  and include the reference code for this opportunity.


The qualified candidate should be currently pursuing or have received a master's or doctoral degree in the one of the relevant fields (e.g. ecology, biology, environmental science, forestry, fisheries/wildlife management). Degree must have been received within the past five years, or currently pursuing.

Preferred skills:

  • Experience applying scientific analyses and results to resource management issues. 
  • Knowledge related to climate change or other disturbance (wildfire) effects on ecosystems and/or landscape analysis.
  • Familiarity with climate impact models that project ecosystem changes with climate change. Experience in applying model output to explore how climate change effects might play out in localized areas. 
  • Familiarity with climate-disturbance interactions (wildfire, hydrological change).
  • Familiarity with climate change vulnerability assessments and adaptation.
  • Strong organizational skills and the ability to balance multiple projects simultaneously. 
  • Ability to write clearly and effectively for technical and non-technical audiences.
  • A record of publishing scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals.
  • Strong presentation skills and the ability to communicate highly technical information to non-technical audiences.
  • Ability to effectively synthesize scientific information.
  • A collegial and collaborative research style.

The application must be completed through Zintellect. https://www.zintellect.com/Opportunity/Details/USDA-USFS-PNWRS-2024-0132 

When you apply, please indicate that you are responding to the posting on Conservation Job Board.

Category Ecology
Tags Climate Change