USFS Postdoctoral Fellowship in Social Sciences

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

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A complete application package consists of:

  • An application
  • Transcript(s) – For this opportunity, an unofficial transcript or copy of the student academic records printed by the applicant or by academic advisors from internal institution systems may be submitted.  Selected candidate must provide proof of completion of the degree before the appointment can start.  All transcripts must be in English or include an official English translation.  Click Here for detailed information about acceptable transcripts.
  • A current resume/CV
  • Two educational or professional recommendations. Applications need at least one recommendation submitted in order to be viewed by the mentor.

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

Application Deadline
7/16/2021 3:00:00 PM Eastern Time Zone

*Applications will be reviewed on a rolling-basis.

USFS Office/Lab and Location: A postdoctoral research opportunity in social science is available with US Forest Service (USFS), Pacific Northwest Research Station (PNW) in Seattle, Washington, or Portland or Corvallis, Oregon. This opportunity may start remotely due to the ongoing pandemic.

The USDA Forest Service is an agency of roughly 30,000 employees that engages a broad spectrum of stakeholders holding diverse perspectives and values around the stewardship of the nation’s forest and grasslands resources. The agency itself has an evolved culture rooted in values that have not only facilitated, but also have in part defined how the agency has fulfilled its mission over its century long existence. The influences of agency culture are manifest in many aspects of the workplace environment having impacts on employee safety, sense of value and resilience to challenging tasks or changing expectations or conditions. Decadal trends suggest that the employee satisfaction within the agency is low relative to agencies government wide – particularly around values supporting work-life balance. More recent public disclosures of incidents of egregious sexual harassment and workplace bullying have sharpened the focus on the role of multiple evolved cultures that potentially contribute to these employee behaviors and experiences.

Research Project: Social scientists within the PNW Station, in collaboration with NFS Managers and scientists from other stations have been engaging in research to better characterize and understand how the agency culture influences, and is shaped by, workforce diversity and inclusion, as well as the experiences of employees representing various demographic groups. The station has developed novel applications to characterize various connections among groups and how they relate to their environment, and more specifically, a study of the experiences of women and people of color within the Pacific Northwest (R6) fire organization. Beyond the station, there are new agency efforts to undertake an initiative around the Forest Service as a learning organization. The role that PNW social science will play in such an initiative is incompletely defined but anticipated to be integral.

The ORISE Participant will be engaged to facilitate the PNW Social Science engagement in research activities in support of potential agency workplace assessment efforts and potentially informing workplace improvement strategies. The research participant will assist social scientists in the Goods, Services, and Values Program to identify, develop, and execute studies related to organizational culture, structure, and function as well as workforce characteristics. 

Under the guidance and mentorship of Lee Cerveny, Research Social Scientist, the Participant will:

  1. Develop a review and assessment of existing social sciences research related to federal agency culture, particularly with an emphasis on those agencies (federal [or state]) with natural resources management missions; comprised of diverse work force; hierarchical organizational structures; that engage in hazardous public safety missions; and that relate to the broad spectrum of rural to urban communities.
  2. Design, support and/or help coordinate activities associated with diversity, equity and inclusion in the U.S. Forest Service
  3. Provide coordination or logistics support for the development of cross-station initiatives in agency culture, the workplace environment, and employee experience.
Learning Objectives
  • To provide exposure to federal agency organizational practices, norms, and approaches.
  • To introduce new skills and expand existing knowledge of social science research methods through direct application.
  • To expand knowledge and awareness of theory and conceptual models related to organizational culture.

Mentor The mentor for this opportunity is Lee Cerveny ( If you have questions about the nature of the research please contact the mentor.

Anticipated Appointment Start Date: As soon as possible.  Start date is flexible and negotiable, and will depend on a variety of factors.

Appointment LengthThe appointment will be for one year.

Level of ParticipationThe appointment is full-time.

Participant StipendThe participant will receive an annual stipend in the range of $55,000-$65,000, a health insurance stipend supplement, and an allowance to travel to meetings and conferences.

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 USFS. Participants do not become employees of USDA, USFS, 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 doctoral degree in social science, public administration, business, or related field. Appropriate disciplines (and sub-disciplines) may include (but are not limited to): psychology (organizational psychology, behavioral psychology, industrial psychology), sociology (industrial sociology, sociology of organizations), demography, anthropology (business or organizational anthropology), human resources or personnel management, labor and industrial relations, business management, or leadership.

Preferred skills:
  • Demonstrated skills in both qualitative and quantitative research methods
  • Strong knowledge of survey design, development, and implementation
  • Comfortable using a variety of data gathering tools, including individual interviews, focus groups, Delphi approaches, and potentially innovative web-based approaches or social media approaches to data gathering
  • Competence in statistics and statistical analysis, and the use of databases
  • Comfortable in all phases of the research cycle: project development, protocol design and testing, data collection, data management and quality control, data analysis, writing, and dissemination

The candidate is expected to gather and analyze original data and contribute to manuscripts in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Knowledge of the publication, review, and reconciliation process will be very helpful.

Eligibility Requirements
  • Degree: Doctoral Degree.
  • Discipline(s):
    • Business (11 )
    • Other Non-S&E (1 )
    • Social and Behavioral Sciences (9 )