Human Dimensions M.S. Student Position – Regime shifts in social-ecological systems

University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Lincoln, NE
Job Category
Graduate Assistantships
Start Date
Last Date to Apply
We are seeking a M.S. student to conduct social science research pertaining to social-ecological regime shifts in Nebraska. The student would be part of an interdisciplinary team of researchers (professors, postdocs, and graduate students) working on an NSF-funded project at the University of Nebraska and University of Montana. The two-year graduate assistantship provides salary support ($24,000), tuition, and health insurance. The Human Dimensions M.S. student will be advised by Dr. Gwendwr Meredith at the University of Nebraska and work in close collaboration with Dr. Craig Allen at the University of Nebraska’s Center for Resilience in Agricultural Working Landscapes and Dr. Brian Chaffin at the University of Montana in the W.A. Franke College of Forestry & Conservation. The student will commence graduate studies Spring semester 2022 (starting January 18th) with research/data collection starting no later than Summer 2022. Project overview: Regime shifts resulting from environmental degradation can drastically impact the quantity and quality of ecosystem services derived from social-ecological systems. Because of the nature of these transitions, it is often difficult to reverse regime shifts once they’ve advanced. Identifying and avoiding transitions in social-ecological systems before they’ve reached critical thresholds is therefore a priority. In this project, we’re looking to connect social and ecological resilience processes to understand landscape transitions and adaptation/mitigation strategies. Our area of study (Nebraska) is home to a diversity of ecosystem types (e.g. tallgrass prairie, Sandhills) and management goals (e.g. row crop agriculture, livestock production, wildlife tourism, housing development), but they all have in common their vulnerability to social-ecological regime shifts. Potential research directions for the M.S. student include but are not limited to using: (1) archival data to track past transitions, best management practices, and perceptions of land cover change; (2) interviews/focus groups to create mental models of stakeholders’ perceptions of land cover change dynamics; (3) interviews and biographic narrative methodology to understand a broad array of stakeholders’ adaptation strategies to climate change. How to apply: • Please send a single pdf attachment (file name formatted as lastname_firstname.pdf) to, containing (1) a cover letter indicating reasons for desiring this position, past experiences relevant to the position including academic training, research experience, and experience working with teams; (2) CV/resume; (3) copies of undergraduate transcripts (unofficial is ok); (4) a recent sample of your technical writing; and (5) contact information for three references. Please use the subject header “HD Masters student application”. Review of applications will begin October 25th and conclude once a suitable candidate is identified.
Required qualifications • Completion of a Bachelor’s degree prior to January 2022. • Degree in sociology, natural resources, environmental management, biology, geography, or related fields. • A desire to research complex social-ecological systems • Excellent English writing and speaking skills • Valid driver’s license and a driving record free of any traffics violations within a 3-yr period accumulating a total or 6 or more points Desired qualifications • Previous research experience, particularly in social science methodology (surveys, focus groups, interviews) • A theoretical understanding of the social components (environmental sociology, human dimensions of natural resource management, risk and decision-making, innovation adoption and diffusion) and/or the ecological components of the project (woody plant encroachment, regime shifts, ecological resilience, Nebraska farming and ranching) • Ability to think creatively both within and outside of an interdisciplinary team
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