Hiring: DCDC Postdoctoral Research Associate

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Arizona State University
Decision Center for a Desert City

Location: Tempe Campus
Full/Part Time: Full-Time
Regular/Temporary: Regular Fiscal Appointment

Position Type

This is a grant funded position. Continuation is contingent on future grant funding. Appointments are year-to-year, with subsequent renewal, based upon performance, the needs of the department, and availability of funding.

Job Description

The Global Institute of Sustainability (GIOS) and the Decision Center for a Desert City (DCDC) at Arizona State University seek a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the decision making under uncertainty related to water sustainability and urban climate adaptation.

Expertise in one or more of the following research areas is highly desirable:

  • decision making under uncertainty
  • climate change uncertainties
  • urban climate adaptation
  • psychology of environmental decision making
  • urban systems dynamics
  • vulnerability, resilience and risk
  • science-policy interactions and boundary organizations
  • hydrological and water simulation modeling

Anticipated Start Date

July 1, 2012

Hiring Range

$38,000 – $42,000 annually depending on experience; plus benefits.

Minimum Qualifications

Earned Ph.D. at the time of appointment.

Desired Qualifications

Demonstrated experience in interdisciplinary environmental research, strong social science skills including quantitative and qualitative analyses and spatial analyses, and strong verbal and written communication skills.

Department Info

The Decision Center for a Desert City (DCDC) at Arizona State University (ASU) was established in 2004 by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to advance scientific understanding of environmental decision making under conditions of uncertainty. Bolstered by Decision Making Under Uncertainty (DMUU) collaborative groups funding from the NSF, “DCDC II” was launched in October 2010 and is poised to expand its already-extensive research agenda, further engage the policy community, and forge stronger ties between knowledge and action. In this second phase of DCDC funding, we will develop fundamental knowledge about decision making from three interdisciplinary perspectives: climatic uncertainties, urban-system dynamics, and adaptation decisions. Simulation modeling and boundary organization studies are cross-cutting themes and will be core DCDC activities.

To date, DCDC has produced: (1) a critical mass of basic research, including over 200 articles, books, and book chapters (65 of these appearing to date in 2010–2011); (2) WaterSim, a dynamic water-simulation model that serves as an important basis for stakeholder engagement and decision support, a point of articulation for interdisciplinary research, and an experimental setting to study decision making under uncertainty; (3) an extensive network of relationships with regional water managers and resource decision makers; (4) productive partnerships with research and education efforts affiliated with ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability (GIOS), including the Central Arizona-Phoenix Long Term Ecological Research (CAP LTER) project, the Decision Theater, and the School of Sustainability; and (5) a significant and growing set of comparative and collaborative partnerships linking our Phoenix-based case study to water sustainability and urban climate adaptation efforts nationally and internationally.

As our mission has evolved to focus not only on water sustainability but also urban climate adaptation, DCDC researchers now work to develop and implement decision-support processes for environmental decision making. Through an integrated approach to research and education, DCDC trains a new generation of scientists who work successfully at the boundaries of science and policy. DCDC II continues to build bridges between science and policy to foster local-to-global sustainability solutions. For additional information about the Decision Center for a Desert City, visit DCDC.

Instructions to Apply

To apply, submit curriculum vitae, two research papers, a letter of interest, and the names, phone numbers, and email addresses of three professional references by email to GIOSjobs@asu.edu.

Application Close Date

Initial close date is December 31, 2011. Applications will continue to be reviewed until position is filled.

Background Check Statement

ASU conducts pre-employment screening for all positions which includes a criminal background check, verification of work history, academic credentials, licenses, and certifications.

Arizona State University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer.

Network Determinants of Knowledge Utilization

DCDC Publication (in press)

Network Determinants of Knowledge Utilization: Preliminary Lessons From a Boundary Organization

By Beatrice I. Crona (1,2) and John N. Parker (3,4)


This study examines the socio-organizational model of science-policy knowledge transfer. Using social network analysis, the authors study how interactions between researchers-policy makers affect utilization of research by policy makers in a boundary organization designed to mediate between research and policy communities. Two types of social interactions with independent effects on utilization are identified. Policy makers with more direct contacts with researchers are more likely to utilize research. Policy makers interacting more with other policy makers regarding research are also more likely to utilize it. This indicates the importance of policy makers’ embeddedness in social networks and the importance of external reputation of boundary organizations for successful knowledge transfer.

Case Study and Research Context

Figure 1 Network of interaction between researchers and policy makers participating in the boundary organization
Our case study is the Decision Center for a Desert City (DCDC), housed at Arizona State University. DCDC is funded through the National Science Foundation’s Decision Making Under Uncertainty program. It is specifically designed as a boundary organization with the goal of enhancing long-term decision making about urban water resources in arid, rapidly growing Phoenix, Arizona. As stated in a project summary, DCDC “seeks to build a new model of science and policy engagement that allows decision makers and scientists to collaborate on important research questions and experiment with new methods” (Crona & Parker, 2009).

DCDC operates in the highly politicized context surrounding water management and urban development in the arid Southwestern United States. The Phoenix metropolitan area is one of the fastest growing urban centers in the United States, and tensions between urban development, economic growth, and environmental sustainability arise continuously (Gober, 2006; Gober, Kirkwood, Balling, Ellis, & Deitrick, 2010). Against this complex backdrop, DCDC was created in 2004 to support research from a diverse range of disciplines, including both the social and natural sciences, and to facilitate its transfer to the policy sphere. To date, the research has consisted primarily of social vulnerability assessments, climatic and hydrological models, science-policy research, and the development of new drought indices.

In its capacity as a boundary organization, DCDC engages over 150 researchers and policy actors but only employs around a dozen support and administrative staff. It meets all of the criteria definitive of a boundary organization. Most characteristically, it involves participation by both scientists and policy makers. DCDC leaders have accomplished this in three main ways.

  • First, DCDC leaders developed a regular forum (“water and climate briefings”) where researchers and policy makers meet to discuss research and its implications for water policy. The forum was designed to provide a depoliticized space that would facilitate interaction among these groups. When surveyed, policy makers indicated that these meetings were the main way in which the organization had influenced the water policy community, with over 60% indicating that their network of contacts in the water policy community had grown as a result (Crona & Parker, 2009).
  • Second, they hold semiregular panels of expert speakers involving members of both communities; and third, they hired a professional liaison to act as a mediator between researchers and policy makers. DCDC has also created a number of boundary objects, the most important of which is WaterSim, a regional-scale simulation model of water supply and demand that integrates climate, land use, and population growth data to examine future water use scenarios (see White et al., 2010).
  • Finally, DCDC has distinct lines of accountability to both the research and policy communities. Accountability to the research community is via its formal ties to the university and the National Science Foundation, and accountability to the policy community is by virtue of the inclusion of policy makers on its advisory board.

1 Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA

2 Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden

3 National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, Santa Barbara, CA, USA

4 Barrett Honors College, Arizona State University

Educators teach water conservation

by John Felty, Salt River Project

December 2, 2011 via East Valley Tribune

When you live in the desert, water conservation is a way of life.

Salt River Project has been promoting conservation for more than 100 years and we recently launched Together We Conserve, a multi-faceted educational effort aimed at water conservation while explaining how SRP’s investments in water infrastructure, management and planning helped the Valley grow into one of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas.

Valley schoolchildren also are now gaining a comprehensive understanding of our water supply and the importance of water-conservation and efficiency. Students are getting this information thanks to what their teachers learned last spring and summer at the inaugural Celebrating Fresh Water in Arizona Educator Academy, presented by SRP, Phoenix, Project WET and the Arizona Geographic Alliance.

Educators learned about the Valley’s water portfolio, from the history of 100-year-old Theodore Roosevelt Dam to the expertise required to manage and deliver water to the Valley from a 13,000-square-mile watershed. That first wave of 80 academy graduates is just beginning to incorporate water knowledge gained at the freshwater academy into their classroom curriculum.

Karen Guerrero, a science teacher and parent at the Accelerated Foreign Language Academy in Gilbert, is one of the first graduates from the program. Karen recently launched a water curriculum at a “Celebrating Arizona” event at Mesa Community College’s Red Mountain Campus. More than 50 future educators at MCC were involved in teaching about Arizona geography and water to the K-5 dual-language students from Gilbert Elementary School. Karen plans to teach water conservation throughout the school year in a program that will culminate with a Family Water Night event in the spring.

The Together We Conserve campaign will also reach out to students in early December when SRP will name a Valley school as the first winner of the “Flat Dewey” competition. The “Flat Dewey” program was designed to encourage fourth-grade students to learn about water supplies and resources throughout Arizona. The winning school will get a pizza party and a visit from SRP’s “Dewey” water mascot, which inspired the “Flat Dewey” competition as a way for students to think about how water impacts their lives on a daily basis.

For more water-saving tips and other fun contest opportunities, please visit SRP’s www.TogetherWeConserve.com website.

Gilbert resident John Felty is the manager of Water Shareholder Relations & Sustainability at Salt River Project.