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UW Postdoctoral Position: Human Dimensions of Tidal Energy

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UW Postdoctoral Position: Human Dimensions of Tidal Energy


            The Jenkins Research Team at the University of Washington in Seattle is seeking to hire a full time (100% FTE) postdoctoral scholar for a research project on the human dimensions of tidal energy. This position will be at the non-tenure track rank of Research Associate and will be for two years.


            This innovative project funded by a National Science Foundation Sustainable Energy Pathways grant is using the Puget Sound as a case study for developing a toolkit to assess the viability of commercial-level tidal energy production. Devices capable of harnessing tidal hydrokinetic energy are nearing commercial readiness. However, the tools to assess the prospects for—and limitations of—large-scale, sustainable use of tidal energy are underdeveloped and a comprehensive synthesis of pilot project results has not been completed. In order to fill this knowledge gap, a multi-disciplinary team of researchers is developing scenarios for large-scale electricity generation from tidal currents in order to balance the benefits of predictable, renewable power generation against engineering feasibility, environmental compatibility, and societal considerations. Specifically, the human dimensions component of the project examines public values and perceptions of tidal energy and also explores the potential for anticipatory governance of tidal energy. Anticipatory governance involves an innovative set of techniques for engaging latent stakeholder communities, identifying potential unintended consequences, and proactively addressing societal concerns during the research and development process.


            As a member of the Jenkins Research Team, the postdoctoral scholar will join Dr. Kiki Jenkins and her graduate students at the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs (SMEA), a renowned multidisciplinary program with an emphasis in marine social science. The postdoctoral scholar will take a leading role in creating and administering a survey of public perceptions and acceptance. By helping to guide the research of master’s students, the postdoctoral scholar will also be actively engaged in all other aspects of the project. These include a case study of tidal energy in Washington State, embedded research examining the interdisciplinary interactions between researchers and their incorporation of societal concerns into their research, and a scenario analysis with stakeholders about potential scenarios for commercial level tidal energy production and governance. Additionally, there is latitude in consultation with Dr. Jenkins for the postdoctoral scholar to identify and pursue his/her own research interests within the bounds of the tidal energy project. By the end of the two-year appointment, she/he is expected to have submitted for publication at least two first-author articles from the project and contribute to the publications of other articles. He/she must also provide regular reports on the progress of the research, take an administrative role in project oversight, and occasionally guest lecture in SMEA classes. The postdoctoral scholar will be expected to spend about 75% of her/his time on the tidal energy project. The remainder may be spent as best benefits his/her professional development, own research interests, or publication of dissertation work, etc. A qualified applicant will have:

  • ·         received  within the last six years a PhD in a sociology; science, technology, and society; environmental studies or another relevant social science field;
  • ·         interest in (but need not have experience in) marine renewable energy;
  • ·         competence in qualitative research methods, especially survey methods;
  • ·         expertise in quantitative analysis of survey results.


            To apply for this position, please send a CV, cover letter detailing your qualifications for the position, and a list of three references to Dr. Kiki Jenkins at kikij@uw.edu by March 23, 2014. Applications will be considered until the position is filled. Ideally, the position would start in June 2014. As a UW employee, you will enjoy a competitive salary and generous benefits,  including work/life programs, medical and dental insurance and retirement benefits. For more information on the benefits for this position, please visit the UW Benefits Office’s web site. The University of Washington is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. UW faculty engage in teaching, research, and service.


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