PhD assistantship for socio-environmental research on land use change and fire risk in Greece

Dr. Chloe Wardropper (Department of Natural Resources and Society), along with Drs. Aaron Sparks and Luigi Boschetti (Department of Forest, Rangeland and Fire Science) and Alex Maas (Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology), at University of Idaho, USA, are recruiting a PhD student. The student would conduct quantitative socio-environmental research on drivers of land-use change and associated fire risk in Greece. This project is funded through NASA’s Land-Cover and Land-Use Change program.      

The student will work with Drs. Wardropper and Maas on fulfilling the following objectives:

  • Use spatially explicit multivariate analyses to identify geophysical, socioeconomic, and sociocultural drivers of agricultural land abandonment in Greece, with a focus on cultural identity and family legacy.
  • Use discrete choice or experimental survey methods to identify policies (subsidies, education, behavioral nudges, etc.) most likely to promote fire-conscious land management.
  • Coordinate work with collaborators in Greece, Drs. Ioannis Gitas at University of Thessaloniki and Chariton Kalaitzidis at the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania

Dr. Sparks will conduct spatial analysis using satellite data (e.g. Landsat and Sentinel imagery, GEDI lidar data) to identify and map agricultural land abandonment and associated fire risk in Greece. The PhD student may work with Dr. Sparks on these data if experience and time allows.

The PhD student would likely enroll in the Natural Resources PhD program, housed within the College of Natural Resources. But the student will be expected to work across Colleges, particularly with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, where Dr. Maas’s department is housed. We can offer a three-year funding package, with half of academic semesters in a research assistantship and half in a teaching assistantship, and three summers fully funded under the research assistantship. Funding is also allocated for travel to Greece and professional conferences. We will work with the student to apply for additional fellowships. Ideal start date is June 2021.


  • Master’s degree in social science or natural resources field (we are open to multiple disciplinary backgrounds so long as the candidate wishes to pursue a primarily quantitative social science PhD)
  • Experience with statistical analysis, preferably in R or STATA
  • Interest in decision-making and environmental change
  • English language proficiency

Preferred qualifications:

  • Experience conducting and analyzing surveys
  • Experience incorporating spatial data (e.g., LandSat imagery) into analyses using a GIS (ArcGIS, QGIS) and/or programming language (R, Python, GDAL)
  • Understanding of EU agricultural policies
  • Greek language proficiency (or experience working in non-English environments and willingness to learn)

To apply:

Send (1) cover letter, (2) CV, (3) transcripts from Master’s program, and (4) names and emails for 2-3 references in one PDF to [email protected]. Priority review date is November 4, 2020. Email Dr. Wardropper with any questions.