SESYNC-Georgetown Postdoctoral Fellowship: Ecological Connections: Climate and Health

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Dec 14, 2017


SESYNC-Georgetown Postdoctoral Fellowship: Ecological Connections: Climate and Health 

The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) and Georgetown University invite applications for a two-year postdoctoral fellowship opportunity, focused on Ecological Connections: Climate and Health. The postdoc opportunity is for August 2018 through August 2020, and is open to applicants who have completed their PhD in a relevant field no later than July 1, 2018 and no earlier than July 1, 2014.

The Postdoctoral fellow will co-develop a project designed to address critical research gaps on the relationship between the changing environment and children’s respiratory health by building a model based on the synthesis of multiple data sets and a wide range of variables.  With land use patterns and changing weather, air quality is expected to change through several pathways, including production and allergenicity of allergens and increased regional concentrations of wildfire smoke, ozone, fine particles, and dust. Some of these pollutants can directly cause respiratory disease or exacerbate existing conditions in susceptible populations, such as children. Factors that may influence vulnerability, and thus must be considered, include biological attributes (e.g., age) demographic factors (e.g., socioeconomic level) and ecological factors (disturbance of natural ecosystems from industrial and agricultural processes, built environment) contributing to hazardous exposures based on geography (e.g., increase risk for wildfires, smoke, reduced air quality). 

This fellowship will build core competencies in the utilization of large data sets (e.g., Environmental Public Health Tracking Network, AirNow/EPA Air Quality Data, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (e.g., temperature, precipitation, drought) to investigate and model the relationship between environmental change (e.g., heat, humidity, land use change), air quality (e.g., ozone, particulate matter) and health (e.g., hospitalizations, asthma rates). Geographical and socioeconomic characteristics (e.g., Census data, EJSCREEN: Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool) linked with weather and health data will provide information about the potential for increased risks for communities with lower economic resources and proximity to polluting industries as well as responses such as changing demographic patterns, land use etc. Mentorship in research methodologies and analysis will be provided, along with education in topic areas necessary to conduct this research such as social and environmental epidemiology, and modeling and cyber support from SESYNC. Applicants should possess skills in basic epidemiologic research methods such as the calculation of risk (e.g., odds ratios) using large data sets and the development of models using multiple environmental exposures, pathways and health outcomes.

The successful applicant will demonstrate innovative approaches to studying impacts on climate change, air quality, and health impacts, building on established evidence and co-develop the project with the collaborating mentor, Dr. Laura Anderko PhD RN, Scanlon Endowed Chair, Professor and Director of the Mid-Atlantic Center for Children’s Health and the Environment. . Questions could include: How do complex interactions and feedbacks among a nexus of social and environmental systems and health climate-related factors such as temperature, humidity, aeroallergens, and air pollution affect children’s health?  What communities and children (e.g., race, geographical area, age) are at greatest risk for respiratory illness as a result of exposures to climate-related factors such as temperature, humidity, aeroallergens, and air pollution? What are the potential societal and behavioral responses to children’s health risks from climate-related factors? What are the individual and synergistic impacts of climate-related factors on children’s health? How do findings inform current policies impacting public health protections (e.g., Clean Air Act)? How can findings support transformative capacity building for healthcare sector responses? How can findings inform the development or modification of climate adaptation plans in states and cities?

The Postdoctoral Fellow will be based a minimum of three days a week at SESYNC in Annapolis, Maryland and two days a week at Georgetown University, in Washington, D.C. The Fellow will join a cohort of Postdoctoral Fellows at SESYNC and will take part in the SESYNC Postdoctoral Immersion Program ( ) and other professional development opportunities. The Fellow will also have full access to the data science and modeling expertise at SESYNC. For additional information, please contact: Ms. Emma Pennea, Center Director, The Mid-Atlantic Center for Children’s Health and the Environment at 1-866-622-2431.; for questions about the SESYNC program, contact Dr. Carrie Hritz (


Application process

Preliminary Screening Application Deadline:  December 14, 2017

  1. Applications should submit a single PDF that includes a C.V. and a detailed cover letter. The letter should explain in detail the qualifications that make the candidate competitive for this specific postdoctoral project and how this project and an interdisciplinary fellowship will advance the candidate’s career trajectory.
  2. Applicants who are not completing their PhD prior to the application due date, must have the Director of their graduate program or major advisor submit a letter to Dr. Carrie Hritz verifying that the applicant is on track to complete all requirements for their PhD by July 1, 2018.

Proposal Co-Development with Collaborating Mentor

  1. Successfully pre-screened candidates will be invited to co-develop a project proposal with the collaborating mentor, Dr. Laura Anderko. Project Proposals are due February 1, 2018.
  2. Arrange to have two letters of reference sent directly from referee to Dr. Carrie Hritz  ( no later than February 1, 2018, 5:00 PM EDT.
  3. Research Proposal (five pages max, including references).
        • Problem statement: Clear and concise statement of the project goals including specific research questions and how the project will advance understanding of socio-environmental systems
        • Methods to be used for the synthesis project.
        • Description of prospective Fellow’s and Research Collaborator’s respective roles in the project and plans for maintaining communication throughout the project.

     Apply for Preliminary Screening

    The University of Maryland is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Minorities and Women Are Encouraged to Apply

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