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CIRES/ WWA Frontline Community Climate Adaptation Post-Doctoral Associate

Requisition Number:



Boulder, Colorado





Employment Type:

Research Faculty



Date Posted:


Job Summary

The Western Water Assessment (WWA), within the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at CU Boulder, is seeking applications for an engaged social science Post-Doctoral Associate to focus on climate adaptation and justice in frontline communities in our region. The Post-Doc will collaborate with a frontline community to co-produce actionable or usable science that will directly support resilience or adaptation. They will play a major role in collaboratively designing research (with a community partner and mentor), collecting and analyzing social science data, and leading both scholarly and community-focused outputs (i.e., a workshop, webinar, memo, white paper, map or story map, government presentations, blog post, etc.). While the primary focus will be research and community work, this position will also be a member of our team and have opportunities to contribute to other projects across a range of disciplines.

Please note that this is not a traditional Post-Doc position. Its focus is on engaged research. This means that while this position will lead scholarly papers, we are prioritizing community-engaged research, which requires additional care and labor to develop ethical, trusted, and reciprocal relationships with partners, and produce community-focused outputs. This position will collaborate with a team of colleagues also committed to engaged research.

The University of Colorado Boulder is committed to building a culturally diverse community of faculty, staff, and students dedicated to contributing to an inclusive campus environment. We are an Equal Opportunity employer, including veterans and individuals with disabilities.

Who We Are

The Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) is an internationally recognized leader in innovative environmental science and research and is located at the University of Colorado Boulder. At CIRES, more than 800 environmental science professionals work to understand the dynamic Earth system, including people’s relationship with the planet. CIRES has partnered with NOAA since 1967, and our areas of expertise include weather and climate, changes at Earth’s poles, air quality and atmospheric chemistry, water resources, solid Earth sciences, and more. Our vision is to be instrumental in ensuring a sustainable future environment by advancing scientific and societal understanding of the Earth system.

Western Water Assessment (WWA) ( is located within the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Science (CIRES) at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder). We are one of twelve teams within the NOAA Climate Adaptation Partnerships (CAP) program (formerly the Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISA) program). WWA brings together researchers from a range of disciplinary backgrounds including social sciences (geography, public policy, etc.), and physical sciences (climate science, hydrology, meteorology, etc.). We conduct innovative research in partnership with decision-makers and communities in the Rocky Mountain West (Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming), helping them make the best use of science to manage for and adapt to climate impacts. We are particularly focused on building resilience to compound climate hazards in the region. WWA works extensively with researchers, stakeholders, and community partners in fields of water management, natural hazards management, and municipal planning, among others. The Post-Doc would become part of our tight-knit, collaborative work environment where we support work-life balance and a highly collegial atmosphere.

What Your Key Responsibilities Will Be

The Post-Doc will pursue one of the following two options for the position. Option one uses relationships that WWA has already established with frontline communities, while option two is available for those with existing relationships with a frontline community in the WWA region.

  • Option 1: Climate Hazards in Mobile Home Parks: Mobile, or manufactured, home parks (MHPs) are the largest form of unsubsidized affordable housing in the country, and in our region (CO, WY, and UT) they disproportionately serve Latinx and Indigenous populations. Their residents are often more at risk to climate hazards than residents of fixed-foundation housing. WWA has been building relationships with community advocates, nonprofits, and government officials on the topic of climate risk to mobile home parks over the past year and is in the process of developing research projects on a range of climate hazards that disproportionately affect MHPs including extreme heat, poor air quality, flooding, and hazard evacuation issues. While we are actively working on this issue, we are still in the early phases of research design. The Post-Doc could either join into and shape existing projects at this early phase, or develop related, dovetailing projects that broadly work on issues of resilience in MHPs. We understand this topic of MHP resilience is broad, intersectional, multifaceted, and impacted by factors including climate hazards and variability, park ownership and governance models, zoning policies, racial and ethnic dynamics, geography, displacement, and larger structural issues. This research is timely as the State of Colorado has also focused on this issue of resilience in MHPs. The State recently passed a “mobile home bill of rights” and other legislation is currently being developed, making this an opportunity to help shape policy and community resilience.
  • Option 2: Co-Developing a Climate Justice Project: In the case where a candidate already has experience and developed relationships with frontline communities in our region, we encourage alternative research projects that address an existing climate justice and adaptation need. To be clear, candidates should not contact new communities before applying, but applicants who have lived in a frontline community or had prior experience with a frontline community-serving organization in our region and have an engaged-research idea that would produce actionable results and contribute to community resilience should briefly describe the alternative project/issue in their cover letter.

What You Should Know

  • This is a two-year position and the anticipated start date is during Fall 2023.
  • Location: Ideally, the Post-Doc will work in person at WWA's main office on the CU Boulder campus in Boulder, CO and a hybrid work modality can be provided following current CIRES and university guidance and policies on hybrid work. Alternatively, the Post-Doc can work remotely from a location within our service region (CO, WY, and UT) if the Post-Doc lives in or near a frontline community they would work with. If working remotely, the Post-Doc will be expected to travel to Boulder at least quarterly.

What We Can Offer

  • CIRES can offer a generous compensation and benefits package.
  • The annual hiring salary for this position is $66,950.00.


The University of Colorado offers excellent benefits, including medical, dental, retirement, paid time off, tuition benefit and ECO Pass. The University of Colorado Boulder is one of the largest employers in Boulder County and offers an inspiring higher education environment. Learn more about the University of Colorado Boulder.

Be Statements

Be ambitious. Be groundbreaking. Be Boulder.

What We Require

  • Ph.D. in a social science field (including but not limited to Geography, Sociology, Anthropology, Ethnic Studies, Indigenous Studies, American Studies, Environmental Studies, etc.).

What You Will Need

  • Experience and/or understanding of knowledge co-production and similar epistemological approaches.
  • Knowledge of climate adaptation and climate hazards.
  • Knowledge of ethical and reciprocal research practices.
  • Expertise in qualitative methods (interviews, focus groups, document analysis, etc).
  • Collaborative spirit and comfort working in teams.
  • Effective project management skills (e.g., ability to be self-directed, independent).
  • Ability to contribute to a diverse and inclusive workforce.

What We Would Like You to Have

We invite applicants to apply even if they do not have the preferred skills and experience outlined in this section. If you meet the requirements and have passion for the work, you are encouraged to apply. We encourage on-the-job training for any additional skills or knowledge that become relevant to the position.

  • Knowledge of critical theories and scholarship on the structural drivers of inequality, injustice, etc.
  • Ability to speak Spanish.
  • Experience working in our region (CO, WY, UT), particularly having relationships with frontline communities in this region.
  • Experience developing/participating in workshops with community partners.

Special Instructions

To apply, please submit the following materials:

  1. Resume or CV
  2. A Cover letter describing your relevant experience, knowledge, skills and any existing relationships with frontline communities in the region (CO, WY, and UT). Please indicate if you intend to pursue option 2 (from the Responsibilities section of the job ad) and a brief description (1-2 paragraphs) of the community need. It should be no longer than 2 pages and in 12-point font.
  3. List of contact information for 3 professional references (name, title, professional relationship, email) who may be contacted on your behalf for a professional reference if you are selected as a finalist.
  4. Please be prepared to submit a writing sample if you are selected as one of the finalists.

Please apply by May 3, 2023 for full consideration. This posting will remain open until the position is filled.

Note: Application materials will not be accepted via email. For consideration, please apply through CU Boulder Jobs.

Posting Contact Information

Posting Contact Name: Katherine Clifford

Posting Contact Email: