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19-11. Connecting coastal change hazards to societally important risk assessments


Closing Date: January 4, 2021

This Research Opportunity will be filled depending on the availability of funds. All application materials must be submitted through USAJobs by 11:59 pm, US Eastern Standard Time, on the closing date.

How to Apply

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Addressing coastal hazards such as chronic erosion or extreme storm events and reducing risk—the potential loss of societally important assets caused by these hazards—is a high priority for policy makers, community members, emergency managers, resource managers, utility operators, business owners, and planners. The USGS supports stakeholder demand for usable, customer-centric information to support decisions for planning a resilient future and for responding to and recovering from unanticipated events in more adaptable and cost-effective ways (Ludwig et al., 2018). Additionally, there is a need to improve delivery of USGS coastal hazards science and products to better serve underrepresented communities.    

The USGS Coastal-Marine Hazards and Resources Program (CMHRP) maintains a wealth of physical process information that is the underpinning of assessments of risks and changes in risks associated with sea-level rise, sediment deficits, and storm impacts.  Additionally, within the CMHRP, a new Coastal Change Hazards research focus prioritizes providing useful data and products to stakeholders, researchers, and federal partners, while maintaining high standards of scientific research. As part of this focus, we are building program-wide capabilities with an initial focus on evaluating user needs, and developing partnerships with stakeholders to aid in the co-design of tools for sharing assessments and data (e.g. Coastal-Change Hazards Portal), as well as support their dissemination to the user community. In this context, a postdoctoral researcher has an opportunity to both utilize and guide our risk-assessment capabilities with special emphasis on the impacts of hazards on communities traditionally underserved by USGS hazards information. 

This Research Opportunity will allow a postdoctoral fellow to guide and utilize coastal hazard assessment capabilities that are currently focused on physical-process understanding (e.g., the products found on the Coastal-Change Hazards Portal) and are needed to support quantitative risk assessments.  We are most interested in a research approach that will identify gaps in understanding and develop a testable risk assessment that is based on physical-process understanding, societal process understanding (e.g., economics and other social behavioral theory, models, and data), and improved connectivity between these disciplines.  A successful proposal will identify existing physical-process information that can contribute to risk assessments that are primarily focused on human impacts (e.g., loss of life and infrastructure) and provide a research plan to quantify the value of existing coastal hazards information to society. Data from actual coastal-hazard driven losses should be included in tests of the new hypotheses and methods. 

Interested applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the Research Advisor(s) early in the application process to discuss project ideas. 


Ludwig, K.A., Ramsey, D.W., Wood, N.J., Pennaz, A.B., Godt, J.W., Plant, N.G., Luco, N., Koenig, T.A., Hudnut, K.W., Davis, D.K., and Bright, P.R., 2018, Science for a risky world—A U.S. Geological Survey plan for risk research and applications: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1444, 57 p., 

Proposed Duty Station: St. Petersburg, FL or Woods Hole, MA 

Areas of PhD: Social sciences, economics, geography, oceanography, geology, or related fields (candidates holding a Ph.D. in other disciplines, but with extensive relevant knowledge and skills may be considered). 

Qualifications: Applicants must meet one of the following qualifications: Research GeologistResearch GeophysicistResearch OceanographerResearch EconomistResearch Social Scientist.  

(This type of research is performed by those who have backgrounds for the occupations stated above.  However, other titles may be applicable depending on the applicant's background, education, and research proposal. The final classification of the position will be made by the Human Resources specialist.) 

Human Resources Office Contact: Joseline Martinez Lopez, 303-236-9559, 

Apply Here