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How to Apply

To apply, please submit the following in a single PDF file by May 31, 2021 to Michael Craig at Applications will be considered on a rolling basis until the position is filled.  

  • Cover letter describing your relevant experience and scholarly interests and preferred start date
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Relevant publications
  • 2-3 references (name, title, affiliation, email address, and phone number) (letters are not required with your initial application)

Job Summary

The Western Forest and Fire Initiative (WFFI), based at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability, invites applications for a one-year Postdoctoral Research Fellowship to explore distributed energy architectures and solutions, including wood-burning biomass facilities, that can increase the reliability of electric power for communities in wildfire-prone areas. Our analysis will leverage optimization and techno-economic methods to quantify the cost and value of different solutions. The primary objective of this research is to improve electricity access for communities in fire-prone areas across the Western United States, where wildfire severity has increased in recent years. To prevent the ignition of wildfires from electric power infrastructure, utilities have started to engage in preemptive de-energization of power lines and other equipment. This de-energization, sometimes referred to as Public Safety Power Shutoffs, has curtailed access to electricity in many communities, threatening human and community wellbeing. Continuing climate change will likely exacerbate these issues.

This position is part of a new multi-disciplinary working group (see below) that aims to understand forests and human communities in the western U.S. as a social-environmental system and develop strategies to reduce risk from fire and climate change to ecosystem health and socio-economic well-being. The postdoctoral fellow will also join a vibrant group of postdoctoral, PhD, MS, and undergraduate researchers in the ASSET Lab.


The Western Forest and Fire Initiative at University of Michigan
The hire will work as part of the Western Forest and Fire Initiative (WFFI) at the University of Michigan, a project made possible with support from Kathy and Steve Berman. The WFFI is a transdisciplinary team of faculty, students, and postdoctoral fellows from the fields of ecology, engineering, economics, policy and planning, and behavioral sciences. The overarching goal of the WFFI is to improve society’s ability to mitigate the risks of large wildfires, exacerbated by climate change, to western forests and communities in forested areas. The WFFI aims to serve as a research hub and a bridging organization, working closely with practitioners and other researchers in the US West to identify research questions and undertake intensive problem analyses to answer those questions. The WFFI will pursue four main objectives:

  1. Improve scientific understanding of fire-prone forests and communities as a social-ecological system, and how to manage forests and communities as such under changing climate conditions.
  2. Support the network of west-wide stakeholders in communicating and coordinating their programmatic and policy efforts around forest management, fire risk, community socio-economic development, and climate change.
  3. Build the capacity of future scholars to work on fire-prone forest and community issues in the West from a complex adaptive systems perspective.
  4. Create a robust agenda and set of strategies for policy and management changes.

Required Qualifications*

Applicant should be an interdisciplinary scholar with a PhD in energy systems, electrical engineering, environmental engineering, risk assessment, or a similar field. Required and desired training, experience, knowledge, and skills are as follows.

  • Formal training and experience with optimization, risk analysis, and/or technoeconomic modeling is required
  • Formal training and experience with one or more programming languages is required
  • Knowledge of extreme weather, natural hazards, wildfire, climate change, and woody biomass is preferred
  • Strong written and oral communication skills are required

Additional Information

Participant PIs:

Start date: September 1, 2021 (flexible)

Term: One year, 1.00 FTE

Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan (flexible due to COVID-19)

Salary: $53,000 (benefits eligible)        

Institution: University of Michigan

Application Deadline

Job openings are posted for a minimum of seven calendar days.  The review and selection process may begin as early as the eighth day after posting. This opening may be removed from posting boards and filled anytime after the minimum posting period has ended.

U-M EEO/AA Statement

The University of Michigan is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.