Postdoctoral Associate - Long-Term Synthesis within the Gulf of Alaska




Since 1995, the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) has been advancing the state of ecological and environmental knowledge through synthetic and collaborative research that aims to discover general patterns and principles based on existing data. The premise at NCEAS is that many decades of data have been collected that can be synthesized to produce novel insights into important scientific and societal issues, and that the expertise and information resources necessary to accomplish these syntheses are latent but distributed throughout the science community.

NCEAS seeks a Postdoctoral Associate to commence her/his Gulf of Alaska research in residence at NCEAS in the Fall 2014 and conclude Fall 2016. Successful candidates will utilize data gathered by NCEAS, along with other existing information, to conduct and publish holistic synthesis and analyses of driving processes and perturbations within complex ecosystem of the Gulf of Alaska. The Postdoctoral Associate will pursue his/her own independent synthesis of the available Gulf of Alaska data while also collaborating with two Gulf of Alaska long-term synthesis Working Groups. Applications are due by October 1, 2014.

Following the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill in 1989, the oil-impacted areas of the Gulf of Alaska have been extensively monitored to examine impacts of the spill on the ecosystem and to assess and promote recovery of impacted species. NCEAS has collaborated with investigators from Gulf Watch Alaska and the Herring Research and Monitoring program to collate historical data from a quarter century of monitoring studies on physical and biological systems impacted by the spill.  In addition, Gulf Watch Alaska is currently conducting a comprehensive monitoring program covering benthic and pelagic systems, environmental drivers, and the effects of lingering oil.

These data collected prior to and in response to the Exxon Valdez oil spill encompass a spatial region from the Alaska Peninsula to the eastern side of Prince William Sound (see map from AOOS). The data are diverse and range from long-term, automated sensing of oceanographic and atmospheric conditions, to short-term, experimental, monitoring, and behavioral studies of biological components of the system. The scientific data collected in these studies includes data on population trends, behavior, physiology, disease, and genetics of many species, as well as oceanographic, chemical, and meteorological data at both regional and local scales. The rich set of data already collated for the synthesis activities are available through the Gulf of Alaska Data Portal:

  • Long-term historical data:
  • Current and regional data:

Previously, a lack of integrated data impeded holistic analysis but the currently compiled data open new avenues for synthesis. For example, there are pressing questions about the interaction between the oil spill and larger drivers such as ocean regime shifts as well as temporal and spatial variability within the ecosystem. Such a holistic synthesis is critical to guide future monitoring and recovery initiatives, which are expected to continue for decades, and to inform monitoring and policy for future events.  

Residency at NCEAS

NCEAS is located in scenic downtown Santa Barbara, California. The Center is known for fostering interaction and collaboration, a characteristic that leads to the success of its visiting scientists. We expect that Associates will contribute their knowledge, interests, and enthusiasm to the intellectual atmosphere. The Postdoctoral Associate should anticipate spending the vast majority of their time in residence at the Center. Associates will also participate in the research activities of selected Gulf of Alaska Working Groups in order to develop collaborations and facilitate synthesis in these groups.

The Postdoctoral Associates will be appointed for one year with a second year available under normal circumstances. The Postdoctoral Associate will receive a salary of approximately $48,000.00 plus benefits and have access to all NCEAS and UC Santa Barbara facilities.

Guidelines for Applications

Applications must include a description of proposed research activities and a justification of why these are appropriate. Associates must plan on allocating their time to synthesis and be in residence at NCEAS for the full period of their appointment. In addition, successful proposals will utilize data collated by NCEAS, along with other existing information, to conduct and publish holistic synthesis and analyses of driving processes and perturbations within this large and complex ecosystem.

Applications should be uploaded as a PDF file to should be submitted as a single, complete document (including cover sheet, body of proposal, CV) and formatted to standard letter size (8.5” W by 11” L) with graphics embedded directly in the document. Please do not upload compressed collections of files, such as .ZIP files. If you have difficulties submitting your application, email proposal [at] or call (805) 892-2500. For questions not addressed above, visit the NCEAS website, email proposal [at], or call (805) 892-2500.

Postdoctoral Associate applications should include a coversheet with the following information, a brief description of research activities (1-2 pages), CV, and three references.



Date of Submission

Name and contact information

Descriptive Title

Short Title – Two or three words for use as a project name (25 characters max)

Project Summary – A brief scientific abstract of your research

Expected Date of Ph.D. Completion (if applicable)

Proposed Start and End Dates – Proposed start and end date of your project (month, year)



Problem Statement – Clear and concise statement of proposed research activities, why they are important, and how it will be accomplished

Proposed Activities –Description and justification of synthesis methods

Literature Cited

Curriculum Vitae – Two (2) page maximum

Letters of Recommendation – Three (3) letters are required and should be sent directly by each referee as an email attachment to proposal [at] An email confirming receipt will be sent to the referee within 24 hours.