Landscape Assessment of Restoration Projects Fellowship

Hiring Organization: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Employment type: Full-Time
Application Due Date: August 2, 2024

USDA Forest Service Office/Lab and Location: A fellowship opportunity is available with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service (FS) within the Northern Research Station (NRS) located in Amherst, Massachusetts.

The USDA Forest Service mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The Forest Service manages a system of 154 national forests and 20 national grasslands in 44 States and Puerto Rico. These lands encompass 193 million acres, an area almost twice the size of California. They have some of the richest resources and most breathtaking scenery in the world, as well as drinking water for millions of Americans; these lands also help create or maintain hundreds of thousands of jobs. Impacts from climate change, extreme weather, and other disturbances—along with changing human demands—challenge our ability to ensure that ecosystems are healthy, resilient, and thus more adaptable to changing conditions.

To advance the mission, the USDA Forest Service: works in collaboration with communities and our partners; provides access to resources and experiences that promote economic, ecological, and social vitality; connects people to the land and one another; and delivers world-class science, technology and land management.

Research Project: The participant will contribute to a project that will help reestablish and maintain relationships between Tribes and culturally significant plants, bees, and the entire ecosystem through knowledge-building and future restoration efforts that promote self-sustaining harvests. The project aims to improve understanding of how acres treated for restoration objectives affects the long-term sustainability, ecological integrity, and resilience of these landscapes, both increasing biodiversity and cultural resources. The goal of this postdoctoral opportunity is to be involved in a broad range of experiences and activities:

  • Virtual and in-person collaborative meetings to develop a GIS landscape assessment that identifies the extent of existing non-forest and open canopy restoration efforts on Federal and Non-Federal lands.
  • Collaborations with project partners and support personnel on a regional literature review of upland non-forested and open canopy restoration efforts, and assembling relevant datasets on vegetation surveys, pollinator surveys, and monitoring efforts.
  • Coordinate a meta-analysis that includes questions related to culturally-significant plants and pollinator communities.
  • Create restoration scenarios that prioritize lands to restore while estimating potential culturally significant plant and pollinator habitat resources.
  • Contribute to the translation of results through developing prioritization decision-support tools, presentations, and synthesis reports.

Learning Objectives:  

  • Learn how non-forested and open canopy restoration efforts can support culturally significant plants, pollinator communities, and Tribal community well-being.
  • Enhance collaborative skills by participating as a member of a multidisciplinary team of research scientists, Tribal relations specialists, land managers, natural resource specialists from federal and state agencies, universities, and non-profit organizations. 
  • Strengthen their research, analysis, and writing skills in spatial analysis and tool development, science synthesis, and restoration assessments.
  • Enhance their communication skills through participating in workshops and creating presentations for local and national conferences.

Mentor: The lead mentors for this opportunity are Dr. Susannah Lerman (, Research Ecologist, USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station located at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Dr. Kelly Kindscher (, Senior Scientist/Professor at Kansas Biological Survey/Environmental Studies at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, and Jennifer Ballinger (, Tribal Relations Specialist, USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station in St. Paul, MN. Additional mentorship will be provided by other team members. If you have questions about the nature of the research, please contact the mentor(s). 

Anticipated Appointment Start Date: September 2024.  Start date is flexible and will depend on a variety of factors.

Appointment Length: The appointment will initially be for two years but may be extended upon recommendation of USDA Forest Service and is contingent on the availability of funds.

Level of Participation: The appointment is full time.

Participant Stipend: The participant will receive a monthly stipend commensurate with educational level and experience. The current monthly stipend for this opportunity is $5,500 - $6,500 depending on qualifications, and includes a health insurance stipend supplement, and $10,000 for travel and supplies.

Citizenship Requirements: This opportunity is available to U.S. citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR), and foreign nationals. Non-U.S. citizen applicants should refer to the Guidelines for Non-U.S. Citizens Details page of the program website for information about the valid immigration statuses that are acceptable for program participation.

ORISE Information: This program, administered by ORAU through its contract with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to manage the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE), was established through an interagency agreement between DOE and USDA Forest Service. Participants do not become employees of USDA, USDA Forest Service, DOE or the program administrator, and there are no employment-related benefits. Proof of health insurance is required for participation in this program. Health insurance can be obtained through ORISE.

Questions: Please visit our Program Website. After reading, if you have additional questions about the application process please email and include the reference code for this opportunity.


The qualified candidate should be currently pursuing or have received a master's or doctoral degree in the one of the relevant fields (e.g. forestry, ecology, biology, geography or a related field). Degree must have been received within the past four years, or anticipated to be received by 9/1/2024.

Preferred skills:

  • An aptitude for research, oral and written scientific communication, attention to detail, and ability to research independently and as a team.  
  • Publication record and strong statistical analyses skills.  
  • Experience with Tribal communities.  
  • Prior experience related to GIS is preferred as is experience related to grassland ecology, natural resource management, and/or ecosystem ecology.  


Eligibility Requirements
  • Degree: Master's Degree or Doctoral Degree received within the last 48 months or anticipated to be received by 9/1/2024 12:00:00 AM.
  • Academic Level(s): Graduate Students, Postdoctoral, or Post-Master's.
  • Discipline(s):
    • Earth and Geosciences ()
    • Environmental and Marine Sciences ()
    • Life Health and Medical Sciences (10 )