Careers at UMass Amherst

Post Doctoral Research Associate - Quantitative Ecologists

Apply now Job no: 522359
Work type: Post Doc (Amherst Only)
Location: UMass Amherst
Department: Environmental Conservation
Union: Post Doc
Categories: Laboratory & Research, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Research, 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

Amphibians and reptiles face a large number of escalating threats to the viability and persistence of their populations. These threats are multi-faceted, complex, and require advanced quantitative tools to tacklet. Therefore, we seek to hire up to three postdoctoral researchers to work on questions which can provide essential scientific information for conservation and management decision-making related to amphibians and reptiles. We focus on using a combination of decision analysis, quantitative modeling of empirical data, and predictive modeling and forecasting.

Examples of projects that the postdoctoral researchers may undertake include estimating the consequences of confiscation and repatriation of illegally collected freshwater turtles using population viability analyses, running simulations for an integrated disease-dynamics model for a chytrid-amphibian system, analyzing amphibian egg clutch count data collected from wetland sites across the Northeast, quantifying the value of amphibians to ecosystems and society, and improving risk models for novel pathogen introduction to naïve host systems. In all examples, the PIs Grant and DiRenzo have preliminary models and data that can be further developed to advance these ideas. We will work with each postdoctoral researcher to identify which project most aligns with their interests, and we will encourage the cohort of three postdoctoral researchers to work collaboratively. We do not expect that each postdoctoral researcher will work on all of these projects or have experience with each area.

This work is a collaboration among the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Massachusetts Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit (MA Coop Unit) and the USGS Eastern Ecological Science Center at the SO Conte Anadromous Fish Research Lab.


Essential Functions

  • Build/refine a population viability analysis that examines the effect of (re)introducing (1) a diseased individual, (2) an individual with poor genetics, and (3) a diseased individual with poor genetics into a wild population.
  • Use simulations to explore the performance of a latent space model describing chytrid-amphibian disease dynamics.
  • Use field data to estimate inter-annual amphibian community breeding dynamics.
  • Use field data to quantify the multiple dimensions of economic value of amphibians.
  • Develop and parameterize a model to improve assessment of Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans environmental suitability for North America.
  • Writing research reports, papers for publication, and preparing data for release.


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)

  • PhD in ecology, conservation, herpetology, or other related field.


Physical Demands/Working Conditions

  • Typical office environment.


Work Schedule

  • Monday – Friday 8:30am – 5:00pm


Salary Information

  • Annual salary of $60,000 plus benefits.


Special Instructions to Applicants

Along with the application, please submit a cover letter, resume and contact information for three (3) professional references. The search will remain open until suitable candidates have been identified.

The cover letter should be 1 – 2 pages describing:

  • your research interests and background, skills, and experience
  • why you are interested in this position and/or enthusiasm related to the projects listed in the job summary
  • your career goals


Please send questions to either Graziella DiRenzo ( or Evan Grant (

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, caste, creed, sex, age, marital status, national origin, disability, political belief or affiliation, pregnancy and pregnancy-related condition(s), veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, genetic information, natural and protective hairstyle and any other class of individuals protected from discrimination 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 UMass Amherst to comply with the applicable federal and state statutes, rules, and regulations concerning equal opportunity and affirmative action.

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