USDA-ARS Fellowship on Co-producing Rangeland Social-ecological Research in the U.S. West

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Reference Code
How to Apply

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A complete application consists of:

All documents must be in English or include an official English translation.

Application Deadline
11/24/2023 1:26:30 PM Eastern Time Zone

*Applications may be reviewed on a rolling-basis.

ARS Office/Lab and LocationA research opportunity is available with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Range Sheep Production Efficiency Research (RSPER) Unit, located in Dubois, Idaho.

Research Project: This project rests on the idea that scientific innovations in natural resource management and food production systems are most effective when bundled with social and institutional innovations. We apply this idea to rangeland livestock production in the US Intermountain West and research at the RSPER Unit based in Idaho.

The ORISE fellow will be involved in a team conducting research to develop and implement a “Rangeland Collaboratory” project to address these topics through participatory research. This approach integrates experimental research, local knowledge, and conservation goals together with ranching objectives to bolster manager adaptive capacity. More specifically, the project replicates methods for collaborative adaptive rangeland management developed by ARS researchers in Colorado and adapts these to the range sheep systems of the Intermountain West. In this context, there is a need for: 1) clear methodological frameworks for co-produced research within the ARS research unit; 2) a greater understanding of the goals and mental models of diverse public partners and stakeholders who may be able to enhance livestock production, biodiversity conservation, and climate adaptation goals on rangelands; 3) methods to integrate these diverse goals into participatory experimental study designs; 4) methods to convene collaborative research and enhance social learning across public and private land contexts, stakeholder groups, and throughout vast landscapes. 

The participant will have the opportunity to:

  • Collaborate with a team of researchers, public partners, and agency staff to contribute to the design, development, and implementation of Collaboratory research goals, including the development of co-produced research methodologies and stakeholder assessment processes.
  • Collaborate with team members to develop and implement a qualitative research protocol focused on stakeholder assessment, collaborative learning activities, and mental model elucidation during in-person and virtual meetings and/or field research.
  • Travel and/or meet virtually with stakeholders and partners across the region.
  • Collect data to evaluate research project objectives.
  • Assist and/or co-lead in the development of analytical approaches that examine the historical, cultural and ecological contexts of land management goals and strategies, natural resource management conflicts, and key knowledge needs among agricultural, conservation, and public agency stakeholders based on interviews, focus groups, and collaborative activities. 
  • Organize, summarize, and synthesize relevant scientific literature, qualitative and quantitative data, and related project documents to advance scientific knowledge of stakeholder context and goals.
  • Communicate and coordinate team project tasks and timelines through virtual and in-person formats.
  • Develop skills in meeting and qualitative data collection facilitation, data analysis, and scientific writing.
  • Participate as a collaborator or leader in the development of peer-reviewed scientific publications and outreach publications or presentations.

Learning Objectives: The participant will learn: 

  • In-depth exposure to rangeland management, biodiversity conservation, and climate adaptation sciences and issues.
  • Transdisciplinary team science leadership skills.
  • Skills in building and researching collaborative partnerships and conducting transdisciplinary team science.
  • Rangeland social-ecological system and conflict resolution theoretical approaches.
  • Scientific data analysis and reporting in a transdisciplinary context.
  • Participatory and co-produced research methodologies.
  • Applied rangeland management and ecological theoretical approaches.
  • Applied research context and approaches of USDA-ARS research unit.

The project will provide exposure to collaborative science methods and enhance professional skills in complex problem solving, team leadership, and cutting edge participatory approaches to scientific research. The participant will gain access to scientific mentors throughout USDA-ARS and collaborate with a diverse group of participating partners, including conservation NGOs, land management agencies, and ranchers. The participant will have the opportunity to advance their publication record and enhance their networks in research, outreach, and community organizations throughout the Intermountain Region.

MentorThe mentor for this opportunity is Hailey Wilmer ( If you have questions about the nature of the research, please contact the mentor.

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

Appointment LengthThe appointment will initially be for two years, but may be renewed upon recommendation of ARS and is contingent on the availability of funds.

Level of ParticipationThe appointment is full-time.

Participant Stipend: The participant will receive a monthly stipend commensurate with educational level and experience. The current annual stipend amounts for this opportunity are $54,200 (Master's) and $65,200 (Ph.D.) plus an insurance supplement and travel allowance.

Citizenship RequirementsThis 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 InformationThis 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 ARS. Participants do not become employees of USDA, ARS, 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 have received a master's or doctoral degree in one of the relevant fields, or be currently pursuing one of the degrees to be received by January 1, 2024.

Eligibility Requirements
  • Degree: Master's Degree or Doctoral Degree.
  • Discipline(s):
    • Business (6 )
    • Communications and Graphics Design (6 )
    • Computer, Information, and Data Sciences (2 )
    • Earth and Geosciences (2 )
    • Environmental and Marine Sciences (8 )
    • Life Health and Medical Sciences (19 )
    • Mathematics and Statistics (3 )
    • Other Non-Science & Engineering (11 )
    • Social and Behavioral Sciences (29 )