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2013 Postdoctoral Researcher - UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability

Research Position

Job Title: Postdoctoral researcher

Investigators: Stephanie Pincetl, Madelyn Glickfeld, Mark Gold

Duration of the position: Two years, preferably starting May 2013

For Inquiries or to Apply:   Send a cover letter and CV to:

                        Madelyn Glickfeld, Assistant Director           

                        UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability




Overview of the Position

This is a unique opportunity for a postdoctoral researcher with an interest in water policy in California.  The position will be located at the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, but the researcher will have an opportunity to work with scholars, practitioners, water managers at all levels, and policy makers.

The candidate should have strong theoretical training in political ecology, institutional organization, and /or policy and governance.  Ideally the candidate would also have some background in resource economics.  The ability and interest in working on an interdisciplinary team of engineers, biological scientists and social scientists is a requisite for this position. 

The position will entail collection and building a significant data base of information about water in Los Angeles County that has never been assembled in one data base before. 

 The position will require strong research skills, ability to write and communicate, and to undertake independent research. Training /or background in spatial statistics and geospatial methods of analysis is important.  Synthetic approaches to information and an ability to see the big picture are necessary for this position.

This research project is nested in several other on-going projects researching water in the Southern California area, so an ability to work collaboratively will be essential.

Overview of the Research Project

In the twenty first century there is perhaps no bigger question facing the Los Angeles area than its future water supply and few more difficult policy and practice challenges than managing water in this region.  Water supply systems and the institutional architecture of distribution and management were established in an era of resource abundance, relative wealth, and much less population.  They were also created in a time when fragmented governance (water supply and sanitation) was the public administration norm.  Siloed, specialized agencies, staffed with experts, funded by the public, established in the Progressive Era to ensure city health and safety and combat corruption, took care of the needs of residents, business and the demands induced by economic growth.

Today that model has produced a chaotic, complex and dysfunctional water system to meet the demands of the twenty first century.  Water in Los Angeles County is managed by many dozens of different agencies, from public to private, wholesale and retail, charging different prices, with different forms of management organization, serving customers who may reside in different cities, and stormwater and wastewater are managed by different agencies completely separated from water supply.

This research aims to document the complex architecture of water resources management in Los Angeles County including the different types of water supply, and their origins -- groundwater, imported water, native water – the complex waste water system, and the implications of this fragmented system for water management for the 21st Century. It will track the interconnections among these different systems and management organizations, and the gaps between them.  So, for example, wastewater is an entirely separate system from water supply, and using wastewater for water supply presents extraordinarily difficult structural and fiscal obstacles.  Institutional silos separating the management of different sources of water, supported by rules, regulations, budgets, habit and procedures are replete, but known largely anecdotally.  Moreover, water management agencies can transcend or bifurcate each other’s boundaries, cutting across local governments and special districts, the state and into other states, but rarely corresponding to watersheds. This study aims to document these disjunctures thoroughly.  The research will inform policy for water resourcesmanagement and the government and governance of the water systems. It will address efficiency and efficacy by pointing out overlaps, gaps, inconsistencies and silos among the systems, and possibilities for greater collaboration and synergy. 

The postdoctoral research will work closely with the Investigators and the staff to focus on aspects of this complex system, in part determined by the postdoctoral candidate’s interest and expertise, and to also complement and flesh out the full research endeavor.