Two Postdoctoral Positions in Ocean Sustainability Science

The National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), Future Earth, and the Colorado State University Global Biodiversity Center are partnering to fill two postdoctoral positions for ocean sustainability science, to be based at NCEAS in Santa Barbara, California.

PEGASuS 2: Ocean Sustainability, is a partnership between Future Earth, National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), and Global Biodiversity Center at Colorado State University. Our vision is to accelerate transformations to a more sustainable and equitable planet by drawing on collective knowledge. Recognizing that the research community on its own cannot adequately address these challenges, we are partnering to support two ocean sustainability working groups involving not only researchers, but also innovators in policy, business and civil society to generate research that meets society’s needs.

Two postdoctoral researchers will be based at NCEAS in Santa Barbara, California. Each postdoc will participate in the research of one or both of the Future Earth-NCEAS working groups, depending on experience and interest, as well as conduct independent research related to ocean sustainability. Postdocs will also work with the Future Earth Secretariat in key synthesis and coordinating roles associated with the Ocean Knowledge-Action Network (KAN), a global network of ocean sustainability researchers and practitioners. The Ocean KAN is sponsored by Future Earth, UNESCO-IOC, SCOR, and the WCRP. These positions will give post-docs significant opportunities to maximize the impact of their research, and to work at the interface of international science and policy with the Ocean KAN, the NCEAS working groups and through major global science-policy initiatives such as the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

Apply through UC Recruit.

Apply by 12/21/18 for full consideration. Applications accepted through 03/31/19 unless positions are filled.

Duties and Responsibilities

Research related to the Future Earth NCEAS working groups (30-50% time)

Each postdoctoral researcher will participate in the work of one or both of the Future Earth-NCEAS working groups (see below), as appropriate based on experience and interest. Each applicant must specify his or her interest in either or both of the working groups. Additional information on either project can be made available.

Independent research (20-40% of time)

Each postdoctoral researcher will be afforded significant time to pursue his or her own research interests, publish independent research in peer review journals, attend scientific conferences, and apply for research grants.

Future Earth Secretariat - synthesis and coordination (20-40% time).

Each postdoctoral researcher will work with the Future Earth Secretariat, and the Ocean Knowledge Action Network (KAN) leadership to develop ocean research and action products in association with major Future Earth research, synthesis and assessment processes, and to support the development and growth of the Ocean KAN.

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. NCEAS has a growing and thriving community of postdocs, resident scientists, and analysts, and frequent influx of leading scientists and practitioners from around the world participating in working group projects across a diverse range of initiatives. We expect that postdocs will contribute their knowledge, interests, and enthusiasm to the intellectual atmosphere. The postdoc should anticipate spending the vast majority of their time in residence at the Center and will have the opportunity to travel to relevant national and international events and conferences.


Both post-doctoral researchers will be included as a part of the Future Earth Secretariat (associated with the Global Hub in Colorado and the Ocean KAN) and will be expected to travel internationally to attend, present, and support at key Future Earth meetings and workshops. International travel may also be required in association with the Future Earth-NCEAS working groups.  All work-related travel expenses will be supported by NCEAS and Future Earth.



  • Ph.D. in a relevant discipline
  • Strong analytical skills including data science, database management and data visualization
  • Ability to review and synthesize large amounts of literature and complex information
  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills
  • Strong organizational skills
  • Ability to design, manage, and help lead workshops to bring disparate groups together
  • Ability to take initiative and work both independently and as part of a globally distributed research network
  • Knowledge in policy, management, economics, and/or other social science relevant to the coastal zone


  • Strong publication record
  • Experience working with groups outside of academia (industry, NGOs, etc.), and international working experience.

Funding Support

PEGASuS is funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s Science Program and the NOMIS Foundation. PEGASuS is jointly administered by Future Earth and Colorado State University's Global Biodiversity Center. Postdoctoral researchers will be based at NCEAS in Santa Barbara, California.

To Apply

All applicants must apply through UC RecruitPlease submit the following required documents:

  • CV
  • Cover Letter
  • Contact information for three references
  • Statement of Research-A short (3 page) proposal of research you would want to conduct as part of your independent project. We expect projects to primarily be synthesis and/or analysis research; the proposal should include a short section setting the context and motivating the work, a main section explaining the research questions, methods, and data that will be used, and a short final section that addresses expected applied implications of the work.

APPLY BY: 12/21/18 (for primary consideration). Positions will remain open until filled. Positions to start as soon as possible.

Working Group Project Descriptions

Project 1: Defining the observing system for the world’s oceans - from microbes to whales

A globally coordinated and sustained ocean observing system is urgently needed to systematically assess the status of the ocean's biodiversity and ecosystems and how these are responding to increasing resource use, including coastal development under long-term climate change scenarios. Based on a set of measurable biological characteristics or “biological essential ocean variables" derived from the requirements of 24 multilateral environmental agreements, existing monitoring capabilities and scientific and societal impact, scientists at NCEAS will design a monitoring network to answer specific scientific questions on high priority global phenomena in response to calls for guidance from policy makers and managers. By mapping the current spatial extent of observations for these essential variables, from microbes to whales and coastal ecosystems to the deep sea, the scientists will identify how to capitalize on what is already being achieved and what remains to be done to develop a globally coordinated, fit for purpose, and sustained ocean observing system. Scientists will also develop a roadmap to ensure that products maximally support monitoring progress against the Convention on Biological Diversity 2050 Vision, Agenda 2030 and other critical international agreements including scientific platforms related to climate change, biodiversity, and ecosystem services as well as the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. The roadmap will include where current indicators can be updated to make better use of scientific information and impact the future development of scientific priorities.

Principal investigators: Nic Bax (University of Tasmania), Daniel Dunn (Duke University), Patricia Miloslavich (Simon Bolivar University)

Project 2: Managing Ocean Change and Food Security: Implementing Palau’s National Marine Sanctuary

One of the most acute challenges for ocean nations and coastal communities is food and nutritional security, including sustaining wild capture fisheries in a time of rapid and profound change in the oceans and in the global food sector. Palau’s commitment to protect ocean ecosystems and resources for its people, demonstrated in a policy to close 80% of its EEZ in 2020, provides an unprecedented opportunity to take a systems approach to tackling this complex and urgent challenge. The Government of Palau has asked us to convene a working group to synthesize existing research and create a portfolio of policy and management options supporting food security and marine resource sustainability in the context of the new closure. The proposed working group will be guided by a policy committee of ministers and other senior government policymakers from Palau and other Pacific Island nations to ensure that its work meets the needs and priorities of government decision-making, and develops avenues for impact at scale, within the broader western Pacific region.

Principal investigator: Fiorenza Micheli (Stanford University)

The department is especially interested in candidates who can contribute to the diversity and excellence of the academic community through research, teaching and service.

The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.