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Research Scientist/Postdoc/PhD Student – Land Use Policy Impact Analysis

We have a 3-year position available for a research scientist, a postdoctoral scientist, or an exceptional PhD student to conduct research focused on analyzing the efficacy and unintended consequences of policies intended to encourage sustainable land use practices. Such land use policies (such as protected areas, logging bans, sustainability certification, and restrictive zoning) are becoming more and more prevalent worldwide as societies struggle to satisfy competing demands for food, fiber, housing, biodiversity and ecosystem services. With “big data” and advanced statistical techniques, we have an increasing capacity to quantify the impacts of these policies. In this project, we focus on investigating land use policies aimed at protecting farmland from development across the continental US. States and counties across the U.S. have implemented a diverse range of policy mechanisms, providing a wide range of excellent opportunities to conduct sophisticated land use policy impact analysis research. Our project team has rich geospatial datasets on farmland conversion and policy implementation across the entire nation, in hand. We are looking for someone with advanced data science and analytical skills to use spatial econometric and causal identification strategies to quantify policy efficacy, identify leakage, and to investigate how social-ecological context influences policy outcomes.

This project has strong potential for both high-impact peer-reviewed publications and to influence U.S. land use policies. The project team includes Dr. Jodi Brandt (land use scientist at Boise State), Dr. Mitch Hunter (Research Director at American Farmland Trust), Dr. Jayash Paudel and Lee Parton (economists) and Matt Williamson (conservation scientist).  The post-doc will join the Human-Environment Systems community, a group of faculty, researchers and students committed to trans-disciplinary, team-based, actionable research that addresses real-world environmental challenges.


The position requires strong spatial and quantitative modeling skills, a broad understanding of policy impact analysis, and experience with counterfactual and quasi-experimental statistical analysis techniques. The project involves analyzing large (i.e. national-scale) datasets, expertise in GIS, database development and management, and strong coding skills. Strong written and verbal communication skills are required, as is the ability to work well in a team that includes interdisciplinary scientists and professionals.

Competitive candidates will have a PhD, or a Master’s degree and a publication record related to the topics above. Exceptional prospective PhD students are also encouraged to inquire about the position. Boise State University embraces and welcomes diversity in its faculty, student body, and staff. Accordingly, applicants who would add to the diversity and excellence of our academic community are encouraged to apply.

Salary and benefits

This position is grant-funded for 3 years including salary ($50,000/year) and full benefits. The position starts Fall of 2021.

To Apply

Applicants should apply with CV, contact information for 3 references, and cover letter that includes specific examples of data science and analysis skills. Apply through the Boise State application site. Informal inquiries about the position can be directed to Jodi Brandt (

About Boise

Boise State is in the beautiful city of Boise, which strikes a perfect balance with close-by outdoor recreational activities as well as a vibrant downtown life. Nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and the capital of the State of Idaho, Boise is frequently featured as a top-ranked metropolis. The city has ample opportunities for world-class outdoor activities year round and a thriving arts and entertainment culture. In 2017, US News and World report ranked Boise the 12th best city to live in the United States. To learn more, please view “Visit Boise” link at: