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Postdoctoral Associate – Natural Climate Solutions

ESI is hiring for a one-year, full-time postdoctoral position joining an MIT Climate Grand Challenge Team on “protecting and enhancing natural carbon sinks: natural climate and community solutions.”

Faculty and Researchers: Prof. John E. Fernández, Prof. and Director, MIT ESI; Prof. Daniela Rus, Andrew (1956) and Erna Viterbi Professor of EECS, Dir. of CSAIL, and Deputy Dean of Research for Schwarzman College of Computing; Prof. Joann F. de Zegher, Assistant Professor, Operations Management Group, Sloan School of Management; Dr. Deborah Campbell, Senior Staff Scientist, Lincoln Laboratory; Prof. Roberto Rigobon, Society of Sloan Fellows Professor of Management and Professor of Applied Economics, Sloan; Marcela Angel, Research Associate ESI and Natural Climate Solutions Program Lead

Contact to apply: Marcela Angel,

Timeline: One year position starting June 2021 (remote at least until September)

The MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative and the faculty consortium for the MIT Climate Grand Challenge “Natural Climate and Community Solutions” are seeking a postdoc to support the development of a white paper that will provide a comprehensive plan for a new research initiative at MIT that is focused on protecting and enhancing natural carbon sinks, particularly tropical forests in the Amazon, the Congo Basin, and Southeast Asia.

Anthropogenic use of land is a substantial source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Agriculture, forestry, and other land use (AFOLU) account for about 13 percent of CO2, 44 percent of CH4 (methane), and 82 percent of N2O (nitrous oxide) anthropogenic global emissions. The white paper will provide a roadmap to develop, deploy and scale-up a substantially enhanced technological toolkit in partnership with local and indigenous communities to be implemented in multiple demonstration locations of diverse and contrasting political and socio-environmental priorities. This roadmap will include substantial proof of concept for unique social, bioeconomy and technology solutions to reduce deforestation and conserve biodiversity. This will enable the expansion to other countries with strategic ecosystems for climate change mitigation and adaptation including high-mountain forests, watersheds, and coastal and marine ecosystems.

This work will be closely coordinated with one of the principal investigators, John Fernández, Daniela Rus, or Joann de Zegher, depending on the area of expertise of the applicant.

In particular, responsibilities include:

  1. Developing a research plan and carrying out interviews and workshops with on-the-ground government, NGO and community partners, as required, to identify specific needs and opportunities to apply forefront knowledge and emerging technologies to advance natural climate and community solutions.
  2. Gathering and analyzing information regarding all aspects of the white paper, and preparing a literature review including the state of relevant knowledge on the economic, political, and social drivers of deforestation, existing policies, technologies, engagement models and incentives for forest conservation, and the state of the art on emerging technologies and the barriers that will need to be overcome to implement technological and community solutions to protect and enhance tropical forest conservation.
  3. Managing the writing process of the white paper according to the CGC guidelines, coordinating faculty and partner organizations inputs and feedback, and ensuring timely progress and delivery. This includes developing a problem definition, research outcomes, impact metrics, and a plan to achieve those outcomes, as well as risk, economic and impact assessments of the proposed outcomes, and a detailed roadmap for the implementation of the results.
  4. Coordinating the development of outreach materials, including a short video presentation to describe the project as well as a two-page fact sheet, among other communication resources as needed.


  • PhD in a technical area related to engineering, computer science, environmental planning, or similar field. Ideal candidates are computer science engineers interested in the environmental and social applications of emerging technologies, as well as environmental scientists, planners, or ecologists interested in the catalytic potential of emerging technologies for community-based conservation of tropical forests.
  • Experience publishing white papers, technical roadmaps, or review papers that involve collaboration and cooperation with multiple stakeholders.
  • Excellent leadership, project management, strategic thinking, written and verbal communication and presentation skills, and self-motivation.
  • Must be able to keep projects/deliverables on track, evaluating and revising as needed, meet deadlines, and deliver high quality results.
  • Proficiency/fluency in Spanish or Portuguese is preferred.

Apply online. For questions, contact Marcela Angel at



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