We seek a postdoctoral researcher with expertise in risk and uncertainty communication to join a NOAA-funded interdisciplinary project on the social costs of flooding. The researcher will lead an effort to assess how decision support tools and simulations inform individuals’ preferences and examine how specific water hazard intelligence products and risk communication messages influence individual planning and practice behaviors. The ideal candidate will have a PhD in social psychology, behavioral sciences, risk communication or related field and possess an interest in serious gaming and/or quantitative social science. They will also possess clear training and publications in risk and uncertainty behavior or communication. Strong skills in behavioral analysis are required. Demonstrated experience and interest in collaborating within large interdisciplinary groups (i.e., natural and social scientists and engineers) is important. There will be opportunities to develop mentoring skills while working with undergraduate students and graduate research fellows.
Statement of the Job:
Little is known about how flood hazard risks are perceived across different regions of the United States or how individuals from different demographic backgrounds and direct experiences with those hazards perceive risk and process risk communications associated with water hazards (floods, droughts, water pollution, sea inundation, etc.). This post doctoral fellow will provide baseline understanding of the factors that may influence risk perception, resultant individual behaviors and responses are complex and include social and economic influences, messages or policies, social values, moral persuasion, and psychological components. Risk information and communications govern how the response, recovery and long-term planning for resiliency are undertaken at individual and institutional scales. This project seeks to improve the design of water hazard risk forecasts by better understanding human decision-making and responses associated with factors that influence water hazard risk perceptions. The post doc fellow will contribute to the creation of a Cooperative Institutional for Research to Operations in Hydrology (CIROH) Forecast Design Center that will explore the heterogeneity of risk perception and behavior, and decision heuristics relative to water hazard mitigation.
Working with a large team of social, ecological and physical scientists, this work will:
(1) develop crisis and risk communication strategy associated with flood and other water hazard risks;
(2) catalyze and integrate communications between developers of flood forecast models, NOAA scientists, stakeholders and the Social Ecological Gaming and Simulation (SEGS) Laboratory research team;
(3) create training opportunities for undergraduate and graduate SEGS lab members;
(4) facilitate network building and collaboration across CIROH members;
(5) provide insight into behavioral expectations and decision-making when confronted with risk and uncertainty. Funding is requested to hire someone with expertise in risk and uncertainty behavior and communications.
The postdoc will support the SEGS team in writing of outreach reports and manuscripts for peer-review, developing data gathering media such as survey materials. Initial appointment for 2 years, with renewal contingent upon funding and performance, up to a maximum duration of five years.
About the University:
The University of Vermont (UVM), founded in 1791, is among the oldest continuously-operated state universities in the country. It is home to over 10,000 undergraduates, 1,672 graduate students, 484 medical students and more than 2,000 full- and part-time faculty. The University of Vermont provides central research infrastructure that includes research regulatory oversight, including the Office of Animal Care Management, UVM Innovations (former Office of Technology Commercialization), Research Protections Office and Sponsored Project Administration. The University of Vermont prioritizes transdisciplinary research and has several initiatives in place to foster collaboration; this collaborative and interactive scientific environment favors cooperation, rather than competition as a strategy for continued strengthening of scientific inquiry at the university.
The Social-Ecological Gaming and Simulation (SEGS):
The SEGS Lab is a transdisciplinary research lab focused on modeling and simulating Social-Ecological Systems from a complex systems perspective by drawing on a range of data sources from simple metadata to “big data”. The SEGS lab was founded in 2014 to work on understanding the influence of human behavior and decision making in complex social-ecological systems. Directed by team members Drs. Zia and Koliba, with Dr. Merrill acting as Managing Director, the SEGS lab brings together a multidisciplinary team of scientists from a variety of fields. Including Merrill, Koliba, and Zia, core team members include Shrum (Behavioral and environmental economist), Clark (Data Scientist and Complex Systems) and Nowak (Epidemiological Modeling and Human Behavior), Merrill (Experimental Gaming, Systems Ecology, Data Analysis and Modeling), Koliba (Policy and Governance) and Zia (Integrated Modeling, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Social-Ecological Systems). A unique feature of the SEGS lab is its focus on the design and implementation of a variety of data gathering tools including serious games, surveys and computational models. The SEGS lab is dedicated to using complex data science tools and human resources to tackle Wicked social-ecological problems faced by society.
• Applicants must have completed all Ph.D. degree requirements prior to the start of the appointment.
• Excellent communication and writing skills.
• Prior experience designing and conducting independent research.
• Demonstrated history of publishing in peer-reviewed journals.
• Demonstrated history of being highly collaborative.
• Willingness to travel.
• Experience working with risk, uncertainty, human behavior and decision-making.
• Prior experience working on crisis communication.
• Prior experience working with flood and or other water hazards
To apply: please send CV, names and contact information for three references, and a cover letter outlining research interests, expertise and availability to firstname.lastname@example.org and reference position number PDS#412.