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Research Fellow - Family Forest Research Center

Apply now Job no: 510493
Work type: Senior/Research Fellow (Amherst Only)
Location: UMass Amherst
Department: Environmental Conservation
Union: Non-Unit Exempt
Categories: College of Natural Sciences

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 Summary

The Family Forest Research Center (FFRC) is seeking a full-time Research Fellow to aid in the implementation of the USDA Forest Service, National Woodland Owner Survey (NWOS; The NWOS is the Forest Service's official survey of private forest landowners and a primary source of information on US landowners' objectives, motivations, behaviors, and attributes. The FFRCs' focal emphasis is on family forest ownerships (FFOs) – the private individuals, families, and trusts that own a plurality of U.S. forest land. The FFRC is a joint partnership between the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station, dedicated to increasing our understanding of family forest owners ( The FFRC is a collaborative organization that benefits from staff and partners with different specialties and experiences to conduct research and outreach. The Research Fellow will aid in all stages of survey implementation, with a focus on data management and database administration. In addition to maintaining the current version of the NWOS database (NWOS-DB version 1.0), they will have a primary role in the ongoing process of developing and implementing new versions of NWOS-DB. Alongside the database itself, the FFRC maintains a collection of scripts used in the processing of data and other survey implementation tasks. One of the main duties of the Research Fellow will be to assist in running, maintaining, and actively developing these scripts in order to support the ongoing task of survey implementation. As well as standalone scripts, the FFRC has developed and maintains an R package ('nwos'; to facilitate accessing NWOS-DB and working with NWOS data. The successful candidate will be expected to become a primary developer of this package.


Essential Functions

Examples of duties:

  • Maintain the NWOS database (NWOS-DB) in Oracle, including the design, testing, and implementation of new versions of NWOS-DB.
  • Develop and implement the R library 'nwos', for interacting with NWOS-DB and NWOS data.
  • Develop and run standalone scripts (primarily R) for interacting with data in NWOS-DB, including moving data to and from the database as part of survey implementation.


Other Functions

  • Work collaboratively and effectively to promote teamwork, diversity, equality and inclusiveness. 
  • Work in partnership with colleagues within the CNS community and across the campus to support the Dean’s strategic priorities.
  • Perform other duties as assigned in support of the mission and goals of the College of Natural Sciences.


Minimum Qualifications (Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, Education, Experience, Certifications, Licensure)

  • Extensive experience with data management and database design/administration.
  • Extensive experience with R and SQL scripting.


Preferred Qualifications (Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, Education, Experience, Certifications, Licensure)

  • Experience with GIS techniques and software, including scripting.
  • Experience with Python, C++, or other general-purpose computer languages.
  • Statistical analysis experience (ideally modeling and estimation).
  • Masters Degree or equivalent experience.
  • Familiarity with family forest related issues is preferred.


Work Schedule

Monday – Friday 8:30am – 5:00pm, 40 hours a week (100% FTE). Some nights and weekends will be required.


Salary Information

Salary commensurate with experience.


Special Instructions to Applicants

Submit a letter of application, resume, and contact information for three professional references.  The search will remain open until a suitable candidate is identified.

As part of a commitment to their own multicultural community, CNS seeks an individual with a demonstrated commitment to diversity and one who will understand and embrace university initiatives and aspirations. (

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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