PhD Position Announcement, Rutgers University: Ecosystem Services in Southeast Asia


Funding is available to enroll for a PhD program at Rutgers University to work with Dr. Pamela McElwee on an NSF-funded project “Understanding the Use of Ecosystem Services Concepts in Environmental Policy” beginning in September 2020. The funding includes a fellowship tuition and stipend for one year and a teaching assistantship for subsequent years (dependent on satisfactory progress), as well as travel funding for dissertation research. The student will be expected to design a dissertation project on ecosystem services and conduct fieldwork in one or more countries of Southeast Asia, as well as work on the overall project generally.

The project is examining how institutions and policymakers in Southeast Asia are using the concept of ecosystem services and if this use differs from previous ways of conceptualizing the environment. The project aims to answer two key research questions: (1) How are ecosystem services defined, measured, and prioritized by different actors in policymaking? (2) How are different services turned into economic values and through what means, while others are not? The research project is using mixed methods, including focus groups, participatory mapping, and interviews to assess local understanding, use, and valuation of ecosystem services in three watershed-based case studies with research partners in Vietnam, Indonesia and Myanmar.

The successful applicant’s PhD dissertation will examine some aspect of how ecosystem services have been incorporated into policy in the region, or the potentials for doing so, with the exact topic to be developed in consultation with the advisor and project team. Preference will be given to students who are interested in a country that the project is not already engaged with (e.g. other than Vietnam, Indonesia and Myanmar). The successful applicant should have a strong interest in ecosystem services, human dimensions of environmental change, or environmental policy, and an interest and willingness to work in culturally different settings in Southeast Asia. Experience with conducting fieldwork with mixed qualitative and quantitative methods is preferred. Applicants with a Master’s degree and/or relevant professional experience in Southeast Asia are particularly encouraged to apply.

Required Qualifications

  • Academic background/degree(s) in Geography, Environmental Studies/Science, Ecology, Sociology, Anthropology, Economics, or other relevant discipline.
  • Ability to do fieldwork, especially in rural communities, for an extended period in Southeast Asia.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Experience with mixed methods approaches in data collection and analysis
  • Language skills with a Southeast Asian language or experience working in a country in the region
  • Master’s degree

To apply, please send a curriculum vitae and 1-2 page statement of your research and professional goals, including your interests and qualifications for the research project, to Dr. Pamela McElwee by Dec 30, 2019. If the student is a good fit for the project, they will then be asked to apply to the PhD program in Geography by the Rutgers Graduate School deadline of Jan 15, 2020.