Ocean Career: Greater Farallones Association Postdoctoral Researcher

Greater Farallones Association (GFA) invites applications for a Postdoctoral Researcher with an interest in coastal-hazard assessments using numerical modeling to conduct research on a joint initiative of GFA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary (GFNMS or Sanctuary), and the US Geological Survey’s (USGS) Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center.


GFA is a nonprofit organization working in close partnership with NOAA to conserve the ecosystems of Greater Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries, a combined protected area of more than 4,500 square miles of federally protected open ocean and coastal waters off the North-central California coast and one of the most productive and biodiverse ocean ecosystems on the planet.

GFA is committed to excellence through diversity and strives to foster inclusivity, justice, and equity within the workplace, in our collaborations with partners, and in the broader field of marine sciences. All GFA staff members are expected to help identify and address justice, equity, and inclusion issues within the organization and in our relationships with those we serve.

Climate change’s coastal impacts—such as sea level rise and increasingly severe storms—and human disruption to natural sediment flows—through infrastructure like sea walls—have increased local vulnerability to climate change. To reduce coastal risk in the face of mounting impacts, GFA and GFNMS established Sediment in the Sanctuary, a joint initiative to support regional coastal adaptation with nature-based solutions along the northern California coastline. The goal of the program is to identify coastal restoration, management, and research priorities and implement priority strategies to increase coastal resilience.

Scope of Work

Starting in September 2023, the selected candidate will join the project team under the direction of Geological Oceanographer Wendy Kordesch, in close collaboration with Research Oceanographer Sean Vitousek at the U.S. Geological Survey. The candidate will be responsible for the day-to-day scientific direction of the geological modeling portion of a NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science-funded project to advance nature-based solutions to address climate impacts to shoreline habitat. Project overview.

Specifically, the candidate will conduct coastal-hazard assessments (using numerical models and existing field observations) and quantify the potential protective benefits (e.g., reduce coastal erosion and/or flooding) of nature-based solutions (e.g., beach nourishment) at sites in the North-central California region. An interdisciplinary team of scientists, coastal managers, and engineers will inform which nature-based alternatives are of interest and practical for the site locations, and the candidate will assist in translating design concepts into model space. The candidate will assess long-term coastal change by using or adapting CoSMoS-COAST, a data-assimilated, transect-based, one-line shoreline model (Vitousek et al., 2017, 2021) in response to multiple sea-level and management scenarios. The candidate will generate data sets, participate, and communicate in meetings and workshops with project partners and end-user stakeholders throughout the project, write reports/papers on their findings, and present findings to the scientific community as well as stakeholders.

In addition to academic mentorship and guidance of Dr. Kordesch and Vitousek, the candidate will have networking opportunities that include direct engagement in the coastal management context/application of their science. Our team and broader partners include interdisciplinary representatives from the private sector (environmental consulting), local, state, and federal government agencies focused on a breadth of coastal management, climate change, and coastal adaptation issues.

Because the position bridges numerical modeling methods, coastal hazard assessments, and coastal management considerations, a strong background and/or interests crossing these areas is highly desirable. The successful applicant should possess strong organizational, technical, and interpersonal skills, and will be expected to work closely with project leads, environmental consultants, and agency staff, and successfully participate in an office community with a wide range of expertise. Excellent communications skills and the ability to work collaboratively with individuals having diverse skill sets and backgrounds are therefore also critical.

Minimum Qualifications

  • Ph.D. in Oceanography, Civil/Coastal Engineering, Geology, Earth Sciences, Applied Mathematics, Computer Science or equivalent
  • Scientific background in coastal hazard assessment and climate change
  • Demonstrated experience in applying and/or developing numerical models
  • Computer programming proficiency in Matlab or Python
  • Proficiency in science communication and ability to communicate complex scientific concepts to non-experts
  • Commitment to a just, equitable, and inclusive workplace and marine science field

Desired Skills

  • Strong knowledge of coastal processes and strategies for understanding coastal hazards associated with climate change as well as adaptation methods using nature-based solutions
  • Demonstrated record of publication in scientific literature
  • Broad knowledge of coastal management policy and practices; familiarity with state and federal agencies
  • Motivation to succeed in an independent work environment and demonstrated effective communication skills to interact with a multidisciplinary, integrated team with multiple collaborating offices

Learn more about this opportunity and how to apply.

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