Five postgraduate fellowships in sustainability science

Agricultural Sustainability Institute at the University of California, Davis
Submission Settings: 
Use submission deadline
Submission Deadline: 
Mar 9 2009

Five postgraduate fellowships available in sustainability science at the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at the University of California, Davis


The Agricultural Sustainability Institute (ASI), established in 2006, provides a hub that links initiatives and education in sustainable agriculture and food systems across academic departments of the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at the University of California, Davis, and with other partners across the State of California.  ASI’s mission is to ensure access to healthy food and to promote the vitality of agriculture today and for future generations.  We address these goals through integrative research, education, communication and early action on big, emerging issues.  For more information visit:


ASI, with the support of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, is pleased to announce a new initiative to assess the tradeoffs involved in agricultural nitrogen (N) management in California agroecosystems. The beneficial role of N in agricultural production is well-established; however, the causes, extent, and severity of the associated environmental problems (i.e., groundwater contamination, greenhouse gas emissions, and climate change) are only partially documented. There is little awareness of these problems by the public and few viable or feasible options available off-the-shelf for producers. For this initiative, ASI, in collaboration with a diverse set of institutions and stakeholders, will assess the biophysical, technological, and socioeconomic drivers, conditions, and trends of N usage in California agricultural landscapes in an interdisciplinary context to evaluate priorities for research and action; ultimately, developing  tools and information useful to a diverse set of stakeholders. More information on the initiative is available at:


Fellowship 1:  Assessment of biogeochemical flows of nitrogen in agriculture, affiliated with ASI and the UC Kearney Foundation for Soil Science:


ASI and the Kearney Foundation seek one Fellow to develop a series of conceptual models representing current understanding of N cycling processes in California ecosystems, an N budget for California, and N cascade models to illustrate human interactions with the N cycle. Thus, this investigation will gather existing data sets and published information to calculate N inputs (e.g., inorganic fertilizer, manure, sewage, atmospheric deposition, natural N-fixation and agricultural N-fixation) and exports (e.g., river export, gaseous losses, discharge from septic and sewage treatment plants, net food exports) at the county and watershed scales.   The Fellow will also assist in modeling efforts to predict the fate of N under various global climate change scenarios for California.   In addition to the deliverables listed above, the Fellow will contribute to an interactive web site, assessment reports, and peer-reviewed publications.


Desired qualifications:  We invite applications for the research and assessment fellowship on biogeochemical flows of nitrogen from recent recipients of an advanced degree, Ph.D. preferred, in soil science, biogeochemistry, geography, hydrology, or related field.  The ideal candidate will have developed conceptual models and spatial or spatiotemporal models of nutrient stocks and flows.  At a minimum, the candidate should have extensive experience with GIS, modeling, and working with data at a variety of spatial and temporal scales.


Fellowship 2: Assessment of policy options and instruments to improve nitrogen management in agriculture, affiliated with ASI and the UC Agricultural Issues Center (AIC):

ASI and AIC seek one Fellow to lead a policy assessment of California’s food system and agroecosystems. The Fellow will assess and develop policy instruments to improve N-management, reduce costs, and decrease the impact of N exports to rivers, N leaching to groundwater, and gaseous N losses.  Specific objectives of the analysis are to (i) identify potential N reduction strategies, (ii) assess the N reduction capability of various strategies, (iii) provide a cost-effectiveness analysis for each strategy, (iv) assess the incentives created for decision-maker responses and the effectiveness of strategies, (v) identify the implementation potential within select airsheds/watersheds, (vi) identify cost effective policy instruments that would induce adoption of strategies, and (vii) assess the social acceptance and potential for adoption. The Fellow is expected to collaborate on an interactive web site, contribute to assessment reports, write peer-reviewed publications, and develop briefings for California policy makers.


Desired qualifications:  We invite applications for the research and assessment fellowship on policy options and instruments to improve nitrogen management in agriculture from recent recipients of an advanced degree, Ph.D. preferred, in economics (agricultural, environmental, or natural resource), public policy, or related field.  The ideal candidate should have academic or professional experience evaluating policy options and their outcomes, in general, and specific experience assessing agricultural or environmental policy.  This may include but is not limited to cost/benefit or wedge analysis. Knowledge of California and U.S. agricultural and environmental policy would be beneficial.


Fellowship 3:  Assessment of best practices and technical options in agriculture, affiliated with ASI and the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SAREP):


ASI and SAREP seek one Fellow to lead the assessment, inventory, and synthesis of the technological forces driving N usage in California agroecosystems and to develop prototypes for integrated technology assessment spanning agronomic, economic, environmental, and social considerations. Such an assessment will be used to identify practical means to better manage and mitigate the effects of off-site movement of N in both cropping and livestock systems. In addition to writing peer-reviewed publications and contributing to assessment reports, the Fellow is expected to create a user interface for growers and livestock producers, through which they can calculate ecosystem N costs/benefits and tradeoffs across a range of soil types, climate scenarios, and production options.


 NOTE:  This position has been filled.


Fellowships 4 & 5:  Development of targeted communications and stakeholder engagement in California’s food system, affiliated with ASI and SAREP:


ASI and SAREP seek two applicants to develop and execute a targeted communications and stakeholder engagement strategy. Potential activities will include, but are not limited to: (i) developing press releases on topics of media interest, (ii) designing and implementing a stakeholder engagement strategy, (iii) creating a seminar series for policy makers and convening “California Nitrogen” conferences, and (iv) translating scientific information about sustainable agriculture into multimedia formats that are useable by diverse audiences. Ultimately the Fellows will contribute to creation of a “center of excellence” for sustainable agriculture and food systems and linking agricultural science to public policy. Fellows will collaborate on web site design, content for multiple media, assessment reports, and articles for relevant publications.


Desired qualifications:  We invite applications from recent recipients of an advanced degree in journalism, communications, information technology, bioinformatics, public information or a relevant discipline.  Candidates should have established editorial and writing skills; experience coordinating all phases of publication and communications projects; experience writing for Web sites; and a working knowledge or proficiency (preferred) in desktop publishing. Candidates with experience in web site design, agricultural extension, group facilitation, or other relevant experience are encouraged to apply. An interest in sustainability science, food systems, climate change, and agriculture is necessary.  Fluency in Spanish and/or other relevant languages desired.


Desired qualifications for all FellowsIt is important for each candidate to have a capacity for strong conceptual thinking; a commitment to staying informed on the global context of nitrogen policy, climate change, and agriculture at a technical, programmatic, and policy level; and a desire to work on an interdisciplinary team.  Candidates must possess the ability to work harmoniously in teams with shared leadership capacity and they must be able to speak and write about complex issues for diverse audiences.


Benefits and duration:  Benefits include health, vision, and dental.  These positions are expected to begin as soon as possible after selection. The positions will end 15 January 2011.


Application procedures:  The search for each position will remain open until filled but will have a “consider by” date.  More detailed descriptions of each position and full application procedures are available at the ASI recruitment Web site at:

To ensure consideration for Fellowships 1 & 2, please submit your application no later than 9 March 2009.  Application deadlines for Fellowships 4 & 5 will be posted at the recruitment Web site.