Careers at UMass Amherst

Post Doctoral Research Associate - Water & Sanitation Infrastructure in Alaska

Apply now Job no: 516983
Work type: Post Doc (Amherst Only)
Location: UMass Amherst
Department: Civil & Environ Engineering
Union: Post Doc
Categories: Postdoctoral Research Associate, Research, College of Engineering

About UMass Amherst

UMass Amherst, the Commonwealth's flagship campus, is a nationally ranked public research university offering a full range of undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University sits on nearly 1,450-acres in the scenic Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts, and offers a rich cultural environment in a bucolic setting close to major urban centers. In addition, the University is part of the Five Colleges (including Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, and Smith College), which adds to the intellectual energy of the region.


Job Description

The Butler and Kumpel Labs in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering invite applications for a Post Doctoral Research Associate in the field of water quality, sanitation, and environmental health. The Post Doctoral Research Associate will work on an interdisciplinary National Science Foundation-funded Navigating the New Arctic project focused on bridging Indigenous Knowledge and science to develop community resilience to future water cycles, river systems, and coastal change. We seek candidates who have knowledge of community-engaged research, small water and wastewater systems, and/or Arctic communities. The project will involve working with community staff in two Alaskan communities to co-develop and carry out a science plan that addresses local priorities for research and joins Indigenous Knowledge of the landscape change with western science methods. The goal is to forecast the rates of landscape change and their impacts on the community to inform our partner communities’ planning for future water/sanitation and other infrastructure and provide a predictive framework for similar communities over the coming decades. Specifically, the Post Doctoral Research Associate will contribute to a household survey to measure the costs households incur to cope with irregular water supply and assess preferences related to water and sanitation services, collect samples of water and wastewater for analysis, and model the health and financial impacts of water and sanitation infrastructure changes. The Post Doctoral Research Associate will work closely with an interdisciplinary team of engineers, geoscientists, Indigenous Knowledge-holders, educators, environmental scientists, and economists.

The position is based at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and is in collaboration with Alaska Pacific University, University of Alaska Fairbanks, University of South Carolina, and community partners in Mekoryuk and Kongignak, Alaska. The Post Doctoral Research Associate will be co-advised by Dr. Caitlyn Butler and Dr. Emily Kumpel. There may be opportunities to contribute to other projects in the Butler and Kumpel labs.

  • Engage in co-developed, community-engaged research.
  • Contribute to data collection through a household survey of water and sanitation costs and preferences.
  • Co-design sampling and testing plan for evaluation of water and wastewater quality analysis, and provide guidance, training, and direct analysis of samples.
  • Risk assessment modeling of environmental health impacts of water infrastructure.
  • Collaborate with students engaged in this project at other institutions (UMass, APU, UAF, USC).
  • Participate in NNA community events and trainings.
  • Author scientific publications from research outputs and present at scientific conferences.



  • PhD in civil and environmental engineering, chemical engineering, environmental sciences/conservation, public health, or other related field.
  • Experience conducting independent fieldwork in culturally and environmentally sensitive contexts.
  • Experience working in collaborative, team environments.
  • Experience with at least two of the following, and a desire to learn new skills: community-engaged research, environmental water sampling, water and wastewater laboratory methods, health risk assessment modeling, co-design of research integrating Indigenous Knowledge and science, community water or wastewater system design and operations, household survey data collection.
  • Effective oral and written communication.


Additional Information

  • Applicants with lived experience in Indigenous and/or Arctic communities are highly encouraged to apply.
  • Target hire date is before 5/1/2023, with flexibility through Summer 2023.


Application Instructions

Along with the application, please submit a CV, cover letter and contact information for three (3) professional references. The search will remain open until filled.


UMass Amherst is committed to a policy of equal opportunity without regard to race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, age, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, disability, military status, or genetic information in employment, admission to and participation in academic programs, activities, and services, and the selection of vendors who provide services or products to the University.  To fulfill that policy, UMass Amherst is further committed to a program of affirmative action to eliminate or mitigate artificial barriers and to increase opportunities for the recruitment and advancement of qualified minorities, women, persons with disabilities, and covered veterans.  It is the policy of the UMass Amherst to comply with the applicable federal and state statutes, rules, and regulations concerning equal opportunity and affirmative action.

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