Postdoctoral Fellow: Distributed Energy Solutions for Wildfire-Prone Communities (University of Michigan, School for Environment and Sustainability)

Kathy and Steve Berman Western Forest and Fire Initiative
School for Environment and Sustainability
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Start date: June 1, 2022 (flexible)
Term: 1 year, full-time, with the possibility for a 1 year extension
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan (flexible)
Salary: $60,000 (benefits eligible)

The Western Forest and Fire Initiative (WFFI), based at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS), invites applications for a one-year Postdoctoral Research Fellowship to explore distributed energy architectures and solutions that can improve the reliability and resiliency of electric power service for communities in wildfire-prone areas. The postdoctoral fellow will work directly with Michael Craig, PI of the ASSET Lab and Assistant Professor in the SEAS. Our analysis will leverage optimization and techno-economic methods to quantify the cost and value of different solutions. The set of solutions explored in the fellowship will be driven by stakeholder interviews conducted by other members of WFFI. Solutions will at a minimum consider local biomass combustion and avoiding preemptive de-energization of power lines and other equipment.
Within WFFI, the postdoctoral fellow will join a cohort of WFFI postdoctoral fellows examining behavioral, socio-cultural, economic, political, technical, and/or ecological aspects of wildfire risk. The successful candidate will join a transdisciplinary working group organized to understand and develop strategies for managing fire-prone forests and human communities in the western U.S. as an integrated social-environmental system. The fellow’s work will culminate in a practical policy recommendation and scholarly journal articles.
In addition to joining WFFI, the successful candidate will join a cooperative group of postdoctoral, PhD, MS, and undergraduate researchers in Dr. Craig’s ASSET Lab. The lab and SEAS offer numerous professional development opportunities, including collaboration on other research projects; mentorship of undergraduate and graduate students; and leadership of other research projects. These opportunities will be tailored based on the postdoctoral fellow’s long-term career path.
Applicants should be an interdisciplinary scholar with a PhD in energy systems, electrical engineering, environmental engineering, risk assessment, or a similar field. Required and desired training, experience, knowledge, and skills are as follows.
• Formal training and experience with optimization, risk analysis, and/or technoeconomic modeling is required
• Formal training and experience with one or more programming languages is required
• Knowledge of extreme weather, natural hazards, wildfire, climate change, and woody biomass is preferred
• Strong written and oral communication skills are required
To apply, please submit the following in a single PDF file by March 15, 2022 to Michael Craig at Applications will be considered on a rolling basis until the position is filled.
• Cover letter describing your relevant experience and scholarly interests and preferred start date
• Curriculum vitae
• Relevant publications
• 2-3 references (name, title, affiliation, email address, and phone number) (letters are not required
with your initial application)
The Western Forest and Fire Initiative at University of Michigan
The hire will work as part of the Western Forest and Fire Initiative (WFFI) at the University of
Michigan, a project made possible with support from Kathy and Steve Berman. The WFFI is a
transdisciplinary team of faculty, students, and postdoctoral fellows from the fields of ecology,
engineering, economics, policy and planning, and behavioral sciences. The overarching goal of the
WFFI is to improve society’s ability to mitigate the risks of large wildfires, exacerbated by climate
change, to western forests and communities in forested areas. The WFFI aims to serve as a research hub
and a bridging organization, working closely with practitioners and other researchers in the US West to
identify research questions and undertake intensive problem analyses to answer those questions. The
WFFI will pursue four main objectives:

  1. Improve scientific understanding of fire-prone forests and communities as a social-ecological
    system, and how to manage forests and communities as such under changing climate
  2. Support the network of west-wide stakeholders in communicating and coordinating their
    programmatic and policy efforts around forest management, fire risk, community socioeconomic
    development, and climate change.
  3. Build the capacity of future scholars to work on fire-prone forest and community issues in
    the West from a complex adaptive systems perspective.
  4. Create a robust agenda and set of strategies for policy and management changes.
    Participant PIs:
    • Paige Fischer, Associate Professor, human behavior, SEAS,
    • Michael Craig, Assistant Professor, energy systems, SEAS, &
    • Steve Yaffee, Professor, collaborative decision making, SEAS,
    • Stella Cousins, Research Scientist, ecosystem ecology, SEAS,
    The University of Michigan is an equal opportunity employer.

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