Multiple Positions: POLARIS Arctic Community Research: Assistant Research Professor, Research Technician, and Graduate and Undergraduate Research Assistants
Employment Opportunities
Thursday, November 21, 2019 10:37 AM

The POLARIS, or Pursuing Opportunities for Long-term Artic Resilience for Infrastructure and Society, is a newly funded NSF project that studies environmental migration, food security, and human-environment conflicts in coastal Arctic Indigenous communities and identifies the important assets (social, environmental, infrastructural, institutional) to help them adapt and become more resilient to climate-related changes. More information about the project can be found at https://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1927827&HistoricalAwards=false. The research is interwoven with education, outreach, local community engagement, international comparison and collaboration, and evaluation. The team is composed of more than 20 collaborators from Penn State, University of Alaska at Anchorage, University of Alaska at Fairbanks, and Michigan Tech.

We seek one Assistant Research Professor, one Research Technician, six Graduate Research Assistants, and multiple Undergraduate Research Assistants to join our team.


Assistant Research Professor (The Pennsylvania State University)

Penn State’s Social Science Research Institute (SSRI) and Population Research Institute (PRI) seek a talented scholar to join their large transdisciplinary POLARIS team. This position will have both project management and research responsibilities. This position will manage and coordinate project activities. This position will also help ensure the team is on track and milestones achieved in a timely, efficient, and effective manner. For research, this position will participate in and collaborate on research activities of this project; this position will also lead research in his/her own research area. The successful candidate will also lead developing new projects or components of them.

This position requires a Ph.D. or equivalent degree. Fieldwork experience in the Arctic, especially in coastal Indigenous communities is desired. Some fieldwork experience in remote research settings is a minimum. Candidates from social and natural science fields are all welcome to apply for this position, but the candidate should be comfortable and able to work with researchers and others across a wide variety of disciplines and perspectives. Interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research experience is desired. This position requires an individual who is self-motivated, detail-oriented, responsible, team-oriented, and creative, with excellent organizational, interpersonal, and communication skills as well as research proficiency, and ability to multi-task.

To apply for this position, please visit the Penn State Jobs website at https://psu.jobs/job/91936. Please submit a brief cover letter that describes relevant experiences along with a current curriculum vita, and contact information for three professional references (name, current position title, mailing address, telephone number, and e-mail address). This is a fixed-term appointment funded for one year from date of hire with excellent possibility of renewal. This position is expected to be at least four years. A competitive package will be provided. Review of applications begins immediately, and will continue until the position is filled.

Please contact Dr. Guangqing Chi at [email protected] if you have any questions about this position.


Research Technician (University of Alaska Fairbanks)

This project will hire a Research Technician in the area of coastal hazard research and community-based monitoring. This position is located at the University of Alaska Fairbanks’s Arctic Coastal Geoscience Lab (ACGL). We seek an innovative individual committed to excellence in research, communication across cultural boundaries, and education. The position will support the POLARIS project focused on the development and maintenance of community-based erosion monitoring sites and conducting coastal hazard risk assessments within remote Alaskan coastal communities. The position includes the processing and analysis of geospatial data sets, production of data products accessible to coastal residents, and supervising undergraduate student interns in laboratory tasks. Applicants with experience working within Alaska Native communities and having geological and geospatial skills preferred. If you are interested in learning more about the ACGL and what we do, please visit our website (https://acgl.community.uaf.edu).

If you are interested in applying for the position, please email Dr. Chris Maio ([email protected]) with your resume.


Graduate and Undergraduate Research Assistants (Michigan Technological University, University of Alaska Anchorage, and The Pennsylvania State University)

The project will hire six graduate students and many undergraduates to be located at The Pennsylvania State University, Michigan Technological University, and University of Alaska Anchorage. The students will be members of a large interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research team. The students will participate in research, educational, and outreach activities of the POLARIS project and conduct field data collection in rural coastal communities in Alaska. The graduate students are expected to develop their dissertation or thesis research based on the POLARIS project. Experience working with Indigenous communities is ideal; a strong interest working with Indigenous communities is a must. Students should be self-motivated, open to learning new methods, resourceful, and independent.

The positions are described below. For application deadlines, please refer to the corresponding program websites. Students of interest are encouraged to contact the corresponding professors and send in a cover letter (one page, single spaced) and a complete resume.

For more information about the project, please contact Dr. Guangqing Chi ([email protected]).


Michigan Technological University

One graduate research assistant will be in Michigan Technological University’s Environmental and Energy Policy graduate program (https://www.mtu.edu/social-sciences/graduate/programs/). This student will study and do their thesis or dissertation on the policy dimensions of reducing the negative socio-ecological impacts of coastal Alaska permafrost thawing. Native American and Alaska Native students are particularly encouraged to apply. The ideal student will have an undergraduate or MS degree in a social science discipline and serious policy science interests.

Please contact Dr. Kathleen Halvorsen ([email protected]) for more information about this position.


University of Alaska Anchorage

The University of Alaska Anchorage Department of Economics seeks one to two undergraduate student assistants to assist in POLARIS project research. We seek undergraduate students in Anchorage and/or students from a rural Alaska community; students from a community (currently Dillingham, Scammon Bay, and Wainwright) collaborating with the POLARIS researchers are especially encouraged to apply. Students from any academic background or major may apply. Ideal candidates will have solid skills in writing, critical thinking, data management, and data analysis. Students may assist in background research, collecting data, and/or managing and analyzing data using STATA or SAS. Students from a study community may be tasked with writing a report, creating a video, or generating photo book based on project themes during time at home in their community. Students should be able to work independently and carry out assigned tasks with minimal supervision.

Please contact Dr. Lance Howe ([email protected]) for more information about the positions.


The Pennsylvania State University

Two graduate research assistant positions will be in PSU’s Rural Sociology graduate program (https://aese.psu.edu/graduateprograms/rural-sociology/apply). They will also have an opportunity to pursue a dual-title degree in Demography (https://sites.psu.edu/demography/), Human Dimensions of Natural Resources and the Environment (HDNRE, https://agsci.psu.edu/hdnre), International Agriculture and Development (https://agsci.psu.edu/international/intad), or Women's, Gender, and Sexuality (https://wgss.la.psu.edu/graduate/degree-programs#PhD). These two positions should have a strong research interest in rural sociology, demography, population and environment, community resilience, gender and women studies, and/or climate change in Indigenous communities or remote research settings. Competence in rigorous statistical and spatial analysis is preferred.

Two graduate research assistant positions will be in PSU’s Geography graduate program (https://www.geog.psu.edu/degree-programs/graduate-degrees/doctor-philosophy-phd) or the Intercollege Graduate Degree Program in Ecology (https://www.huck.psu.edu/graduate-programs/ecology/applications/apply-now). Students will have an opportunity to examine the impact of environmental change on local people and their food systems. Students may have an opportunity to apply to the LandscapeU transdisciplinary graduate training program in food-energy-water systems (https://sites.psu.edu/landscapeu/call-for-applications/), or the HDNRE dual-title. A strong grounding in landscape ecology, ecological modeling, or ecosystem services, and/or Indigenous food systems and food environment assessment is preferred.

One graduate research assistant position will be in PSU’s Energy, Environmental and Food Economics graduate program (https://aese.psu.edu/about/disciplines/agricultural-economics). This position will have an opportunity to study environmental migration and/or food security taking an economic approach. This position should have some programming background especially in R and Python. A good statistics and/or econometrics background is also required. Experience working with bigger datasets and having some level of training in economics are desired.

The funding for graduate students is guaranteed for four years, conditional on satisfactory performance of both assistantship duties and academic progress. For undergraduate assistants, the area of interest is open. Undergraduates of interest should discuss their proposed work in relation to the POLARIS project in their cover letter.

For more information about these positions, please contact Dr. Guangqing Chi ([email protected]).