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20-39. Integrating energy, mineral, and other natural resource information to support resource management decision-making


Closing Date: January 6, 2022

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.



All energy production affects both natural and human systems, with impacts that vary between energy resources, specific technologies used, and the locations of development and production facilities. Similar patterns are true for mineral resource development, and energy and mineral development are themselves intertwined. The USGS can improve its contributions to resource management by providing multi-resource analyses (MRA) to decision-makers. Broadly, MRAs integrate scientific information about energy, mineral, natural, and human resources on the landscape; use scenario analyses and models to forecast changes in the system from exogenous natural events and human actions; address the dynamic interconnected relationships among natural resources; and consider the economic and societal consequences of these changes (Diffendorfer et al., 2017, 2021; Haines et al., 2013, 2014; Jenni et al., 2018).

This Mendenhall research opportunity invites proposals on science related to the energy-mineral-environment-human nexus and integrated analyses of tradeoffs associated with resource development and use, with the goal of creating a suite of analytical products that can be used by land and resource managers for public resource decision-making. Proposals can focus on one or more of the following focus areas, or on other topics of interest to the applicant. 

  1. Modeling effects of energy and minerals development on ecosystem services and their values: understanding how energy and mineral development, including carbon sequestration and renewable energy development, impact ecosystems and ecosystem services and can assist in deploying new resources while minimizing negative impacts.
  2. Improving quantitative understanding of linkages between resource development and use and possible impacts: MRAs will benefit from field studies or analyses of existing data (potentially including techniques such as machine learning) that improve biophysical models linking energy and mineral resource development with possible impacts (e.g., wildlife habitat impacted by building oil and gas well pads).
  3. Regional implications of energy policy scenarios: analysis of the full suite of potential impacts stemming from implementing various state- and national-scale energy policies will be valuable for understanding costs and benefits and identifying points of possible conflict.
  4. Climate, Water, Energy nexus: extending traditional economic cost and benefit analysis of alternative resource development, energy generation, and water resource utilization strategies to include climate projections and social and ecological dimensions for a more comprehensive comparison of alternatives.
  5. Equity implications of changes in fossil energy development in the United States: quantifying resource development impacts that may disproportionately affect particular communities can help decision makers identify where mitigation actions may be most beneficial.
  6. Social science and geospatial analyses of human-energy interactions: enhancing our understanding of how people perceive ecosystems and resource development options will allow us to develop more relevant MRAs and decision support tools that address the effects of resource development patterns on human values and systems.

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


Jenni, K.E., et al., 2018, Multi-Resource Analysis—Methodology and synthesis, U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1442.

Haines, S.S., et al., 2013, A framework for quantitative assessment of impacts related to energy and mineral resource development, Natural Resources Research, v. 23.

Haines, S.S., et al, 2014, A framework for assessing water and proppant use and flowback water extraction associated with development of continuous petroleum resources, U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2014–3010.

Diffendorfer, J.E., et al, 2017, A method to assess the population-level consequences of wind energy facilities on bird and bat species, in “Wind Energy and Wildlife Interactions, Presentations from the CWW2015 Conference”, Springer.

Diffendorfer, J. E., et al., 2021, Demographic and potential biological removal models identify raptor species sensitive to current and future wind energy, Ecosphere 12:e03531.

Proposed Duty Station: Denver, Colorado or Reston, Virginia.

Areas of PhD: Economics, decision science, geology, geophysics, geography, landscape ecology, hydrology, or related fields (candidates holding a Ph.D. in other disciplines, but with extensive knowledge and skills relevant to the Research Opportunity may be considered).

Qualifications: Applicants must meet the qualifications for one of the following: Research Economist, Research Social Scientist, Research Physical Scientist, Research Geologist, Research Geophysicist, Research Ecologist, Research Geographer, Operations Research Analyst

(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: Sinar Santillano Oliveros, 303-236-9585,