Career Opportunities

Postdoctoral Researcher, Freshwater Health

Location: United States- Arlington, VA Headquarters
Job Code: 498
# of openings: 1


Conservation International (CI) helps societies sustainably care for nature, our global biodiversity, for the benefit of humanity.  An abundance of clean fresh water is critical for people and nature to thrive yet more people have cell phones than have access to safe drinking water. Healthy freshwater systems provide water for human consumption, sanitation, agriculture, industrial manufacturing, and energy generation, underpinning economic development. According to the United Nations, by 2030, demand for water will exceed supply by 40 percent and half of the people on Earth will likely face water shortages. In this context, Conservation International, together with diverse group of partners, seeks to develop a Freshwater Health Index (FHI). The FHI will fill a critical gap in understanding and monitoring the global health of our freshwater systems to ultimately improve their management and contribute to closing the water gap by 2030. The Freshwater Health Index will define the health of freshwater systems in terms of their ecological health and how well they provide a range of services to human communities now and into the future.


The postdoctoral researcher will play a key role in developing the FHI.  Working closely with Dr. Sandy Andelman, CI Chief Scientist, as part of a large multi-institutional collaboration to develop and implement a Freshwater Health Index. (S)he will (1) conduct an extensive literature review to assess the state of indicator science (in general and in relation to freshwater); (2) develop and test analytical approaches for the freshwater health index, considering scalability and challenges of data rich and data poor regions; (3) developing methods for combining and/or reducing indices while preserving overall information content. S/he will also collaborate with others to (4) locate, gain access and synthesize historical, empirical, and theoretical data sets to determine the quality and quantity of available data in specific locations, especially in the Greater Mekong. In this context, (s)he will communicate with government officials and international researchers in a manner that is culturally sensitive and respectful. As part of the larger FHI team, (s)he will communicate with other project researchers to coordinate research projects and participate in project meetings.


This position is a two-year assignment.



  • Locates, gains access to and synthesizes historical, empirical, and theoretical data sets, including (a) determining the quality and quantity of available data in specific locations, especially in the Greater Mekong and (b) organizing the data into a federated set of databases or a distributed database
  • Develops methods for combining and/or reducing indices while preserving overall information content
  • Conducts an extensive literature review to assess the state of indicator science (in general and in relation to freshwater) and stays abreast of the relevant current and historical literature
  • Gives presentations on individual research and general FHI science at international scientific and policy meetings, within CI, and at other fora


Working Conditions:

  • Position based at CI headquarters in Arlington, Virginia
  • Up to 30% international travel, mostly in Asia




  • Ph.D. in ecology, statistics, environmental science, geography, hydrology or a related field;
  • Four years experience in conducting quantitative scientific research, at least two related to freshwater ecosystems or ecosystem services;
  • Demonstrated experience with multivariate analyses;
  • Strong quantitative skills, especially using R and/or SAS;
  • Experience synthesizing, managing and analyzing heterogeneous data of varying quality, from distributed sources sustainable development, or closely related fields;
  • Demonstrated record of publication in peer-reviewed literature on topics relevant to the position;
  • Interest in linking science to decision making and policy outcomes;
  • Strong ability to work independently;
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills;
  • Demonstrated ability to work in collaborative, team research environments and cultivate productive partnerships with academic and research institutions



  • Understanding and experience with indicator science;
  • Experience in developing countries, especially in Asia



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