Conservation Partners connecting working lands conservation from the Gulf of Mexico to the High Plains with the vision of a sustainable landscape of natural resources resilient to the threats and stressors associated with our changing world.

(903) 570-9626
Conservation Coordinator 

1-year Postdoc Position with Univ of OK, supports work of 4 LCCs

Date: 08/07/15

The University of Oklahoma’s Center for Applied Social Research seeks a one-year postdoctoral researcher to conduct in-situ, field-based interviews along the Rio Grande and Rio Conchos (Mexico) river basins in order to assess how people who manage water – including, but not limited to, municipalities, farmers and ranchers, tribal nations, the Corps of Engineers, power generators and industry, recreational managers, et al. – make decisions and how those decisions shape and are shaped by upstream and downstream conservation needs. This position has an expected start date of October 1, 2015 (contingent upon federal approval of funding) and is funded by a grant from the US Geological Survey (USGS) through the South Central Climate Science Center’s (located at the University of Oklahoma). 


The postdoctoral researcher should: 1) Be familiar with qualitative social science methods and have experience with face-to-face interviewing techniques. Applicants with a Ph.D. in the natural sciences -- especially ecological and environmental sciences -- are also encouraged to apply if they can demonstrate experience in qualitative social science research methods. 2) Be willing and able to spend 60-70 days on the road, driving the expanse of the Rio Grande (Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas) and parts of the Rio Conchos (Mexico). This will involve extensive, long-distance driving. 3) Be highly organized, responsible, and self-directed in order to schedule interviews and stakeholder-based focus groups in 10 reaches of the targeted river systems in order to capture diverse and representative perspectives from across this vast region. 4) Be a strong communicator who can work with diverse stakeholders (from federal/state water managers to representatives of industry to local community members who might lack clearly defined organizational representation). 5) Be a strong and enthusiastic collaborator who can work with collaborators across multiple disciplines (hydrology, geology, geography, economics, and scholars who work with system dynamics modeling) and is enthusiastic about scholarly publishing. 6) Be a bilingual Spanish-speaker who is able to conduct short research trips to Mexico (the project will involve 2-3 weeks of fieldwork in Mexico’s Rio Conchos river basin that will also seek to understand water management practices and beliefs as regards the interaction between the Rio Conchos and the Rio Grande). We do not require that the applicant show perfect fluency in Spanish, but, the candidate should be competent enough in Spanish to be able to conduct interviews about water management practices and decision-making. 7) Be familiar with or willing to learn about system dynamics modeling and/or theories of contingent valuation (“willingness-to-pay”) – elements central to the other PIs on this project. While this familiarity is a benefit, it is NOT required; however, a willingness to work across disciplines and with the other PIs on this project is expected.


Project Summary:  Severe droughts and human development in the Rio Grande River Basin have profoundly impacted the quantity and quality of water for natural and human systems throughout the Basin. Bringing together anthropologists, economists, integrated dynamics modelers, and geographers, this research will examine the coupled human-natural systems of the Basin. The researchers will gather primary data on socio-economic, cultural, political, and organizational factors affecting both the perceptions of publics and resource managers’ beliefs and behaviors in order to construct a system dynamics model to better inform the decisions/behaviors of managers, policy makers, and publics. This research project will support collaborations with partners from four Landscape Conservation Cooperatives – Southern Rockies LCC, Desert LCC, Gulf Coast Prairie LCC, and Great Plains LCC to identify key stakeholders and resource/conservation managers in 10 reaches of the River. We will conduct interviews, surveys, and ethnographic participant observation across the Basin to understand where, why, and what similarities and differences in perceptions and management practices exist across the Basin. These data will be integrated with existing socio-economic databases and studies of communities in the Basin in order to contribute to a system dynamics model of the watershed that will include established hydrological and ecosystem data, with the goal of providing an integrated coupled human-natural systems model of the Basin. The system dynamics model will be presented/tested at the planned Rio Grande River Forum (Fall 2016) and then operationalized for managers, policy makers, and publics throughout the region as a decision-support tool that allows users to consider a range of “what-if” scenarios that would include costs and benefits to both human and natural systems throughout the Basin.


Those who are interested in applying for this position and contributing to this research must apply for this position online at (Requisition Number 22968). The direct link to the job listing is:


Review of applications will begin on August 15, 2015 and will continue until the position is filled. For further information on this or other OU job opportunities, please call (405) 325-1826, or access our website at The University of Oklahoma is an equal opportunity institution.


Interested applicants are STRONGLY encouraged to contact Dr. Jack Friedman as soon as possible at for further details about this research opportunity.