Cornell University, College of Business

Position ID:Cornell-College of Business-DAEPRTE2021 [#16906, WDR-00023935]
Position Title: Postdoctoral Research Associate in Biodiversity and Agriculture:Dyson School of Applied Economics & Management/College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Position Type:Postdoctoral
Position Location:Ithaca, New York 14850, United States [map]
Subject Areas: Economics / Applied Economics
Ornithology / Ornithology
Appl Deadline:2020/10/15 11:59PMhelp popup (posted 2020/09/17, listed until 2020/12/22)
Position Description:    

*** the list date or deadline for this position has passed and new applications are no longer being accepted. ***

Postdoctoral Research Associate in Biodiversity and Agriculture

Lab of Ornithology

Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

SC Johnson College of Business

Cornell University

Ithaca, NY

STARTING DATE: January, 2021

LOCATION: Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Johnson Center for Birds and Biodiversity & Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management,Warren Hall 

JOB SUMMARY:                                                       

The postdoctoral research associate will work within a dynamic and interdisciplinary group of researchers within Cornell University and will be jointly based at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a globally focused institution for research, training, and public communication relating to birds and biodiversity. The Lab of Ornithology is home to a vibrant community of several dozen postdoctoral researchers working across all six centers, and we strive to provide a supportive and collaborative environment for this community that fosters personal growth and career advancement. Within the Lab of Ornithology, The Center for Avian Population Studies (CAPS) carries out the Lab’s mission to interpret and conserve the earth’s biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds. Scientists within CAPS use machine learning and statistical methods to analyze observations of birds to increase understanding of the natural world and to assist global conservation.

The Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management is home to Cornell’s applied economists working on environmental, agricultural, and development issues. The environmental economists at Dyson use causal inference methods to value environmental change and to understand the impacts of environmental regulation.

This is a full-time, one-year appointment with the possibility of renewal for a second year conditional on satisfactory performance.


The overall goal is to understand the co-benefits of the CRP program and to provide information that can inform the design of the CRP in the next farm bill. The researcher will investigate the benefits of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) on agricultural land within the US. The researcher will work collaboratively with ecologists within the Lab of Ornithology, environmental economists within the Dyson school, and partners within the USDA. The researcher will use the eBird data to investigate avian biodiversity and use the MODIS Aerosol Optical Depth and US EPA AirData air pollution datasets to assess air quality. Spatial and temporal variation in these processes will be related to change in the extent and type of CRP land.


Relate the extent and type of CRP land to the avian biodiversity (25%):

  • Building on the foundation of past research by the eBird Science Team and other research groups, investigate the biases and variation that are inherent within eBird data to obtain a strong understanding of the factors necessary to consider when estimating avian biodiversity, particularly in relation to grassland birds in agricultural landscapes.
  • Analytically relate eBird data to CRP information, to estimate the impact of CRP land cover practices on the biodiversity of grassland species across space and time.

Relate the extent and type of CRP land to measures of air pollution (25%):

  • Collate and process the air pollution data to estimate the distribution and variation in pollutants across the US.
  • Analytically relate air pollution data to CRP information, to estimate the impact of CRP land cover practices on the air quality across space and time.

Identify areas of co-benefits for biodiversity and air quality (20%):

  • Integrate the results from the first two elements to identify places of maximal co-benefits for biodiversity and air quality.
  • Empirically identify optimal ways of determining Conservation Priority Areas and Wildlife Priority Zones, to provide the maximum co-benefits from the CRP.  

Communicate results with the scientific community and non-academic partners (20%):

  • Communicate results with project partners at the USDA.
  • Work with project partners to identify the optimal ways to integrate the project results into CRP decision-making. 
  • Present results at professional meetings, conferences, and popular seminars.
  • Prepare peer reviewed papers and other research products, including reports and information relevant to partners.

Contribute to the wider academic and conservation communities (10%):

  • Review papers, develop collaborations, contribute to broader scientific endeavours
  • Seek opportunities to communicate research results to non-academic audiences, such as conservation organizations, eBird contributors, and the general public.
  • Engage in ongoing academic and intellectual life within Cornell University.


  • PhD in quantitative ecology, applied statistics, or a related field with a strong background in statistics and model development.
  • Experience with R and other programming languages.
  • Proven ability to apply quantitative methods to answer ecological questions and hypotheses.
  • Strong record of success conducting research and scholarly activities, including publication in peer-reviewed journals.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills.
  • Ability to work independently and to contribute to team projects


  • Experience with machine learning, causal inference, and other methods for data analysis.
  • Experience with High Performance Computing or Cloud Computing.
  • Experience working alongside non-academic partners.
  • Knowledge of ornithology and biodiversity.
  • Knowledge of the science of air quality and its impacts on humans and the environment.
  • Knowledge of U.S. agricultural land use and conservation.

SALARY: Commensurate with experience

SUPERVISION: Supervised by Dr. Alison Johnston (Center for Avian Population Studies) and Dr. Ivan Rudik (Dyson). Experience working alongside non-academic partners. 



Please send a single pdf file containing a letter of application outlining qualifications, Statement of Contribution to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and interest in the position, curriculum vitae, 1 example publication, and the names and contact details for two references.  

Inquiries about position specifics can be directed to Dr. Alison Johnston ( and Dr. Ivan Rudik ( Review of applicants will continue until the position is filled.

For full consideration please ensure that your application is complete by October 15, 2020. Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position has been filled. Applications received after October 15, 2020 will be reviewed if the position has not been filled.  

Diversity and inclusion are a part of Cornell University’s heritage. We’re an employer and educator recognized for valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans, and individuals with Disabilities.

Application Materials Required:
Submit the following items online at this website to complete your application:
And anything else requested in the position description.

Further Info:
209 Dryden Road
Ithaca, NY 14850

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