​​Post-Doctoral Position- Species Distribution Modeling of Biodiversity and Adaptation of Farmers and Rural Communities To Climate Change


The University of Vermont is seeking qualified applicants for a two-year post-doctorate position, with potential for renewal for another two years, to use species distribution modeling to understand how biodiversity, farmers and rural communities adapt to the challenges of climate change.  The project includes the aggregation and development of largescale datasets of biodiversity, farmer behavior and perceptions across US states, construction of mechanistic, spatially explicit models of range shifts with climate adaptation, and application of these models to farmer and rural community responses to climate change.



Funded through a National Science Foundation grant, the research project with collaborators at University of Vermont (Dr. Meredith Niles, Dr. Nicholas Gotelli, Dr. Laurent Hébert-Dufresne) and University of Maine (Dr. Tim Waring, Dr. Brian McGill, Dr. Kati Corlew, Dr. Matthew Dube), seeks to understand how both rural human communities and species populations will respond to challenges posed by climate change [1]. The project will synthesize large amounts of data and develop new species distribution models to predict climate-driven shifts in species ranges as well as the responses and cultural adaptations of human communities. The project will also work with farmers and rural communities to understand their perspectives of the projected outcomes and responses. A successful applicant will work with a multidisciplinary team of biologists, social scientists and complexity researchers in Maine and Vermont.



The two main aims of this position are 1) to develop mechanistic, spatially explicit models of species range shifts, and 2) to develop a better understanding of the interaction of humans with biodiversity change and the ability of farmers and rural communities to adapt to climate change. This requires the assembly and analysis of species occurrence data (birds, trees, crops, and diseases), and datasets related to land use and farmer behavior.  Tasks include the identification of existing public datasets, the curation, aggregation, and synthesis of multiple data types, and the generation of novel species distribution models and indicators of climate adaptation and associated behaviors.  In addition, the post-doctorate will  help to integrate these data with evolutionary models of cultural adaptation to climate change and engage with agricultural and rural communities, including in presentation of results to diverse stakeholders and policy makers.



The position is one of five new hires that form the core of the four-year research project funded by the National Science Foundation. The post-doctorate will be co-advised at the University of Vermont by Dr. Meredith Niles (www.meredithtniles.com) in the Food Systems Program of the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences, and Dr. Nicholas J. Gotelli (http://www.uvm.edu/~ngotelli/homepage.html) in the Department of Biology. The Niles and Gotelli labs have a strong commitment to interdisciplinary research, biodiversity modeling, food systems science, and open access principles.  Salary range will be $48,000-$52,000), depending on experience.  There are a number of generous benefits associated with the position, which can be found at: https://www.uvm.edu/hrs/postdoctoral-associates-benefits-overview .  The post-doctorate will also have opportunities for professional development and travel associated with the project, as relevant, as well as engagement with other professors on the project, especially Dr. Tim Waring, Dr. Laurent Hébert-Dufresne, and Dr. Kati Corlew.





  • Successful completion of a PhD in a relevant field of biology, social science, or data science

  • Demonstrated research and academic excellence evidenced by existing publications in relevant topics

  • Experience constructing, fitting, testing, and comparing species distribution models with species occurrence data

  • Excellent data science and social science quantitative skills

  • Experience with data aggregation and curation, especially across diverse types of datasets

  • Significant experience with Python and familiarity with other languages such as R, SQL, Stata, etc.

  • Excellent communication skills and ability to work with an interdisciplinary team across multiple institutions

  • Self-directed and ability to lead projects and learn new skills

  • Mature, organized, professional and courteous



  • Experience in interdisciplinary approaches to human behavior, especially in social-ecological systems

  • Experience working with farmers or rural communities

  • Strong interest and experience in data visualizations

  • Understanding, or interest, in stakeholder engagement

  • Understanding, or interest, in qualitative methods, including focus groups

  • Enthusiasm for open data and science practices



Please address questions and completed applications electronically to Dr. Meredith Niles (mtniles@uvm.edu) and Dr. Nicholas Gotelli (ngotelli@uvm.edu). Applications should include:


  1. A cover letter detailing your interest in the position, how you meet the essential and desired requirements, and details of past research projects

  2. A CV or resume, including three references (with name, phone, email).


Review of materials will begin March 1, 2021 and continue until the position is filled.

350 Carrigan Wing, 109 Carrigan Drive

University of Vermont

Burlington, VT 05405

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