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Research Associate-Fixed Term

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Back to search results Apply now Job no: 770996
Work type: Faculty/Academic Staff
Major Administrative Unit / College: College Of Agriculture And Nat Resources
Department: Department Of Community Sustainability 10002241
Sub Area: FAS- Fac./Acad Staff
Salary: Salary Commensurate with Experience
Location: East Lansing
Categories: Agriculture, Fixed Term Academic Staff, Full Time (90-100%), Non-Union

Position Summary

The Department of Community Sustainability seeks a Postdoctoral Scholar for a full-time (1.00 FTE), 12-month position with benefits. The Postdoctoral Scholar will work on the project 'Metrics, Management, and Monitoring - An Investigation of Pasture and Rangeland Soil Health and Its Drivers' ( as part of a multi-institutional research team including Michigan State University, Oregon State University, Colorado State University, University of Wyoming, The Nature Conservancy, and others. The project team includes social scientists, economists, soil scientists, and range scientists, and is aimed at understanding the impact of grazing management on soil health, ecological functioning, and socioeconomic wellbeing. The successful candidate will focus on the social science aspects of the project and will conduct applied research on the relationship between producer decision making, wellbeing, and social-ecological resilience at the farm scale.

Principal responsibilities of this position will include conducting an integrated analysis of links between grazing strategy, producer wellbeing, and resilience, contributing to the development and validation of social-ecological resilience theory through empirical and desk research; managing project data; and summarizing major project findings in research papers, policy briefings, popular media, and/or curricula in collaboration with project team members. Field research will involve establishing and maintaining trusting relationships with participating producers; interviewing and surveying producers about their grazing practices, underlying values, wellbeing outcomes, capacity to respond to change, and motivations and barriers to adopting regenerative grazing; and facilitating group data collection activities with farmers and diverse agricultural stakeholders using resilience assessment methodology.  

This position offers an excellent opportunity to pursue independent, mentored research, to strengthen analytical and writing skills, and to both lead and co-author papers. The postdoc will also be able to interact with a rich, multidisciplinary community of scholars (including a parallel postdoc in the social science team based on Oregon State University), and to attend conferences and workshops. Remote work is possible.

The position will start in Fall 2022. It is for one year initially and renewable on an annual basis afterwards up to three times, given satisfactory progress and availability of funding.

Equal Employment Opportunity Statement

All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, citizenship, age, disability or protected veteran status.

Required Degree

Doctorate -Environmental Social Science

Minimum Requirements

Qualifications for this position include:

  • A Ph.D. in Sustainability, Human Geography, Sociology, Natural Resource Management, Environmental Studies, or related interdisciplinary field that includes a social science component focused on agriculture or natural resources;
  • Expertise in a combination of the following fields and capacity to integrate concepts from these and related fields:
    • Regenerative agriculture, Holistic Management, Adaptive Multi-Paddock (AMP) grazing etc. 
    • Social-ecological resilience theory and practice  
    • Rangeland social science  
    • Producer decision making  
    • Wellbeing
  • Excellent writing skills and experience with submission of manuscripts to academic journals, with a demonstrated publication record in peer-reviewed journals;
  • Demonstrated ability to work independently and collaboratively as part of an interdisciplinary research team;
  • Mixed methods data collection and analysis skills, including some combination of: 
    • Survey data collection 
    • Interview data collection
    • Focus group data collection 
    • Participatory mapping  
  • Demonstrated oral and written communication skills;
  • Fluency in written and spoken English;
  • Ability to think creatively about collaboration and scientific inquiry (required); 
  • Ability to interact comfortably with interdisciplinary academic partners and practitioner/producer/community partners;
  • Strong interpersonal and decision-making skills;
  • Ability to work both independently and in a team;
  • Willingness and ability to lead efforts and be an effective team member;
  • Flexibility to travel as needed and for an extended period of time (~1 month).

Desired Qualifications

Significant experience in fieldwork in US agricultural systems, preferably grazing systems, and ability to work with livestock producers.

Required Application Materials

To apply, please submit the following:

  • Cover letter describing qualifications, professional goals, and specific research interests related to this position; no longer than 2 pages
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Example of a peer-reviewed, published paper led by applicant; co-authored papers are acceptable
  • Contact information for three professional references

Together-we-will Statement

The university is requiring all MSU students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 with limited exceptions. Learn more at:

Special Instructions

For full consideration, all materials must be received by 28 April 2022. Screening will begin immediately after the deadline until the position is filled. Letters of reference will be requested from the finalists for this position, as may other supporting documentation. For further Information please contact Dr. Jenny Hodbod via

Review of Applications Begins On



Department Statement

The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Michigan State University is committed to achieving excellence by creating and sustaining an accessible and inclusive culture that values cultural and academic diversity. We are an equal opportunity / affirmative action employer. The CANR is particularly interested in candidates of all backgrounds who are committed to the principle that academic excellence is achieved through open access and proactive inclusion.

MSU Statement

Michigan State University has been advancing the common good with uncommon will for more than 160 years. One of the top research universities in the world, MSU pushes the boundaries of discovery and forges enduring partnerships to solve the most pressing global challenges while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community through more than 200 programs of study in 17 degree-granting colleges.

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