Monday, September 29, 2008

Research Assistant - Role of Scientific Information in Environmental Decisions

This position will have two areas of responsibility: 1) working on Keystone Projects for the Graduate Certificate in Environmental Management (EM) (5 hours per week), and 2) providing research support for the Role of Scientific Information in Environmental Decisions course (one of the core EM courses) (15 hours per week). Reappointment for Winter Quarter 2008 to continue support of Keystone Project logistics is possible.

1. Keystone Projects. Keystone Projects play an integral role in the EM Program. Teams of EM students work with a UW Faculty Mentor and a community partner on Projects designed to address contemporary issues affecting the region. Each Project lasts two quarters, Winter and Spring. Keystone Projects for 2008-2009 are:

  • Developing Innovative Solutions for Short Haul Trucking in the Puget Sound Corridor. Community Partners: Port of Tacoma and Washington State Department of Transportation
  • Bellevue Greenhouse Gas Emissions Community Action Plan Community Partner: City of Bellevue

Responsibilities include: 1) establishing lines of communication with EM faculty Director, EM Graduate Program Coordinator, Faculty Mentors and communication partners; 2) helping to set up Winter Quarter skills workshop in Keystone course (ENVIR 511), and 3) updating web page and syllabus for ENVIR 511.

Faculty: Alison Cullen, Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs

The course is offered by the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs. It serves as a core offering for the Program on the Environment’s Graduate Certificate in Environmental Management. The course schedule will be: WED 1:30-4:20 PM (class size 35-40)

Responsibilities include: 1) doing background research on decision analytic topics; 2) meeting with instructor regularly to review research needs and student progress; 3) attending all lectures; 4) preparing course materials, as needed; 5) assisting student learning by holding review sessions, tutoring students one-on-one during office hours, and responding to student e-mail. There may be additional course-specific requirements of the instructor.

Course Description
This course examines how science contributes to decisions that involve the natural environment; how science and scientists help frame debates and decisions; how scientific findings are incorporated into decision-making processes; how scientists and nonscientists deal with uncertainty about scientific questions. Illustrates the need for accurate representation and critical evaluation of scientific information.

Course Objectives
- Use decision analytic and precautionary frameworks to analyze complex environmental decisions
- Develop an appreciation of both the "role" and the "limits" of analysis
- Identify and address issues of temporal scale and spatial scale in decisions
- Identify and characterize tradeoffs in decisions
- Assess the relevant and driving characteristics of risk in decisions under uncertainty
- Build and solve decision tree structures
- Identify and address issues of variability and uncertainty in information
- Develop probabilistic descriptions of uncertainty and variability in information based on empirical measurement, models and expert judgment

Requirements: Current graduate student in good standing at the UW with strong science background, commitment to broadly-based environmental education, good communication and interpersonal skills, previous teaching experience; and an understanding of regional environmental issues.

Desired: Project management experience. Priority will be given to those who completed the course with distinction in an earlier quarter.

Compensation: Based on standard UW rates determined by student standing.

Application Materials: Applicants should submit:
(1) Current CV;
(2) Two references (name, title, phone) familiar with your =research and teaching abilities;
(3) Cover letter stating what strengths you would bring to serving as a research assistant for the Keystone Projects and in Role of Science course, as well as your strengths and background relevant to the specific activities outlined in the responsibilities above and the course description for PB AF 597A (as described below).

Application Timeline
Deadline: Oct 2, 2008
Open Until Filled

Apply online: Go to Student Employement ( and select link under "Academic Student Employment Listings - (TA's, RA's and related Positions)."