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The Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST)at University of Washington - Postdoctoral Research Associate in Seattle, WA

The Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST) in the College of the Environment at the University of Washington is looking for a Postdoctoral Research Associate with expertise in educational research for a two-year, 100% FTE position starting in Winter 2017.  This position will be located on the main campus in Seattle, in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences.

COASST is a 17-year-old citizen science project primarily focused on beachcast marine birds as indicators of changes in, and forcing of, coastal ocean ecosystems in the Northeast Pacific Ocean. Starting from a program of 12 participants on the south coast of Washington in 1999, COASST has grown to ~850 participants collecting data on more than 500 beaches. Current participation includes ages 7 to 93; students to park rangers to homemakers to teachers to community organizers; novice-to-master birders; tribal elders and three-generation families to recent arrivals; urbanites to residents of remote villages.  Survey sites range from Mendocino, CA to Kotzebue, AK and west through the Aleutian Islands. This grain and extent makes COASST the largest beached bird program in the world. In the last two years, COASST has also developed and implemented a small and growing marine debris data collection program.

COASST data include a rich, high quality dataset derived from participant data collection, which is used in a wide range of science and natural resource management. This dataset also includes individual participant self-assessment of expertise, accuracy (as assessed by independent verification), and effort (surveys per unit time), as well as a range of demographic information.

Together with collaborators at Oregon State University and Conservation International, COASST has received an NSF grant to examine recruitment to, and retention in, rigorous citizen science programs, using COASST as a model. We are situating our study within frameworks of Activity Theory, and Community of Practice.  As part of this effort, extensive survey data have been collected from both seasoned (more than one year of participation) and novice (just signed up for a training) participants. Additional data sources include an intensive journaling project, and focus groups. Archived data include previous surveys allowing population-level and individual tracking of participant responses over time.

Essential Qualifications: PhD in a relevant field prior to the proposed start date.  A valid Washington State driver's license and ability to travel to remote locations.

Desirable Qualifications: The ideal candidate for this position has experience with qualitative data types (open and closed ended survey answers; transcripts of focus groups and interviews, and observational field notes), has performed and refined qualitative coding using appropriate software (e.g., NVivo, Dedoose), and has expertise in a range of qualitative and quantitative (multi-variate) analysis of categorical, ranked, and numeric data (e.g., CCA, NMDS, machine learning). In addition, candidates with demonstrated experience in peer-reviewed publication in education, citizen science and/or natural science journals are highly desirable, as a central responsibility of this position is creative analysis of these large datasets in order to move citizen science, and more broadly informal science education, forward. Finally, we are looking for an independent person who can leap into analytical work, be self-directed, and who is also willing to be an interactive member of the team of faculty, postdocs, staff and students who collectively comprise COASST.  The position will require regular travel to meet with collaborators, conduct participant interviews, and observe COASST trainings, refreshers and other events.

Interested individuals can find out more about COASST by visiting our website (, and/or by contacting Julia Parrish, COASST Executive Director and Professor at the University of Washington (

To apply, please submit electronically to Julia Parrish the following: (1) A letter of interest detailing your skills and experience that would serve you well in this position, and how these would add substantively to the social science and educational research part of our group. Please tell us why you want this job, and why we want to interview you!  (2) A curriculum vitae which includes a publication list.  (3) A statement of scholarly work outlining your short-term and longer-term career goals.  (4) The names and contact information for three references.   Priority review of applications will begin on 25 January 2017 and proceed until a candidate is recruited. 

The University of Washington promotes diversity and inclusion among our faculty, staff and students.  COASST seeks candidates who are able to fully engage audiences from a wide spectrum of backgrounds, both on and off campus. 

University of Washington is an affirmative action and equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identify, gender expression, national origin, age, protected veteran or disabled status or genetic information.

Opportunity within the NCO: 
Closing Date: 
Saturday, September 30, 2017