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TREES Lab Research Specialist

Apply now Job no: 497895
Work type: Academic Staff - Project/Interim (12 Month)
Location: Platteville
Categories: Social Sciences, Student Services

Position Summary:

The Department of Environmental Sciences & Society invites applications for a Research Specialist. The duties of this position will be split between:  

  1. the RUI: Collaborative Research: Medieval to modern climate variability and climate change in the Great Plains project, a new, multi-institution, NSF-funded effort to develop a Great Plains Drought Atlas, and
  2. helping to advance the research efforts of students, faculty, and staff working in the TREES Lab, a hub of undergraduate research at UW-Platteville.

The primary responsibilities for developing the drought atlas will be to develop new, multi-century, and ideally millennial-scale, tree-ring chronologies from eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana) trees growing among the bluffs and outcrops of the Driftless Area of the upper midwestern United States. This effort will advance understanding of long-term moisture variability in a critical agricultural region of North America to better predict how anthropogenic climate change may be altering spatial and temporal patterns of drought. The duties related to other TREES Lab operations will include contributing to undergraduate student mentoring, collaborative authorship on manuscripts disseminating the excellent research of current and past undergraduate student researchers, and the pursuit of new funding opportunities through grants and contracts. This job will provide exceptional opportunities to conduct fieldwork in a beautiful, rural setting while providing substantial professional development for an emerging scholar intrigued about what it is like to work at a primarily undergraduate institution.

This is a 12-month, 75% project appointment that is renewable for up to 3 years. Benefits are excellent and include employee health, dental, and faculty life/disability insurance, retirement, and opportunities for professional development. The person hired for this position will have opportunities to pursue additional grant writing, research, and possibly teaching activities if available to increase to a 100% appointment, if desired.


  • Gain familiarity with the geography, topography, and biogeography of the Driftless Area to facilitate identification of sampling sites
  • Establish and/or cultivate relationships with public land managers and private landowners to access sampling sites
  • Safely lead research teams that include undergraduate students on local and regional sampling trips, some of which may extend over multiple days, and most of which will include work on steep, rugged slopes and bluffs
  • Organize, surface, and cross date potentially challenging increment core and cross section samples from slow-growing eastern redcedar trees, stumps, and remnants
  • Contribute to ring-width chronology development and analysis
  • Disseminate research findings through conference presentations and contributions to peer-reviewed publications
  • Mentor undergraduate students in field and laboratory settings
  • Help maintain TREES Lab space, equipment, and research gear
  • Contribute to the field, laboratory, and writing activities of other projects conducted by TREES Lab students, faculty, and staff
  • Additional duties as assigned

What You’ll Need to Succeed:

• M.S. in geography, environmental science, or a closely related field
• Demonstrated experience in dendrochronology, including both the field and laboratory aspects of chronology development, analyses of climate-tree growth relationships, and familiarity with the relevant software
• Competency in at least one of the following two areas: 1) technical climbing and rope skills and/or 2) piloting drones and their use in remote sensing and imagery capture
• Willingness and ability to develop competency in either of the areas listed above for which you do not already have
• Excellent teamwork skills (communication, time management, problem-solving, listening, critical thinking, collaboration, and leadership)
• Demonstrated ability to work independently and safely in rugged conditions that will include cliffs, bluffs, and extreme slopes across all four seasons of the Driftless Area
• Strong interest in mentoring undergraduate students
• A valid driver’s license

Institutional Setting and Resources:

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville is a primarily undergraduate institution that serves a high proportion of first-generation college students from rural communities located throughout southwest Wisconsin and the broader Driftless Area. As such, the focus of faculty and staff is to provide a rich learning environment infused with high-impact practices, like undergraduate research, that help engage students and ideally provide a transformative educational experience. Within this context, the Department of Environmental Sciences & Society offers a B.S. in Environmental Science and Conservation and a B.S. in Broad Field Science, along with minors in Environmental Science, Social and Environmental Justice, Geography, and GIS, and certificates in Social and Environmental Justice and GIS. The Department includes four tenure-track faculty, one post-doctoral researcher, and one instructional academic staff.

The department is home to the Tree-Ring, Earth, and Environmental Sciences Laboratory (TREES Lab), a Center of Excellence in undergraduate research at UW-Platteville. Housed in a 2000+ ft2 dedicated research suite in the newly renovated Boebel Hall, The TREES Lab is equipped with new microscopes, a large flexible teaching space, a quiet research suite with four PC workstations loaded with WinDendro measuring software, two Swiss-made microtomes to create thin sections from wood plant material, a wet lab with fume hood, a sediment analysis lab, and a 300 square foot wood shop for preparation of tree-ring samples. The person who fills this position will have comprehensive access to research space in the TREES Lab and an enthusiastic student body from which to recruit research assistants.

Campus Information:

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville, founded in 1866, is located in the Driftless Area of southwest Wisconsin and on lands within the ancestral territories of many Indigenous people, including the Ho-Chunk, Kiikaapoi, Peoria, Sauk and Meskwaki, Myaamia, and Očhéthi Šakówiŋ. The university enrolls about students in 47 baccalaureate and 10 masters programs. Institutional strengths include agriculture, K–12 education with a growing emphasis on rural education, engineering, industrial technology, criminal justice, and business. The city of Platteville, situated among rolling hills, meandering streams, and a pastoral mix of fields and forest, is southwest Wisconsin’s largest community. The region offers excellent school systems, high quality medical and hospital facilities, outstanding recreational opportunities, and vibrant businesses and industries. UW-Platteville is a cultural and educational center for the Tri-State region of Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin.

Take a virtual tour of our campus!

Application Deadline:

Applications must be submitted through our online applicant portal. Review of complete applications will begin September 26, 2022. Applications will be accepted until position has been filled.  

How to Apply:

The following documents are required for applicant consideration:

  • Letter of application addressing all required qualifications
  • A current resume
  • An example of scholarly writing that could include peer-reviewed publications, scientific posters, or scientific pieces written for a general audience
  • Contact information (name, telephone number, and email address) for 3 professional references.

For questions regarding this position, please contact:

Evan Larson at

We Support Diversity and Inclusion:

Our mission is to foster a diverse environment that contributes to an inclusive culture and climate by promoting critical discourse and meaningful interactions between all members of our campus community.

Equal Employment Opportunity:

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville is committed to recruiting, supporting and fostering a diverse, inclusive and civil community of outstanding faculty, staff and students, and is an AA/EEO Employer. A criminal background check is required for employment. Applicants must be legally entitled to work in the U.S. at time of hire.

Employment will require a criminal background check. It will also require you and your references to answer questions regarding sexual violence and sexual harassment.

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The University of Wisconsin-Platteville is committed to recruiting, supporting and fostering a diverse, inclusive and civil community of outstanding faculty, staff and students, and is an AA/EEO Employer. A criminal background check is required for employment. Applicants must be legally entitled to work in the U.S. at time of hire.

It is the policy of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville to provide equal employment opportunity to all individuals regardless of race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, national origin, ancestry, disability, marital status, pregnancy, political affiliation, arrest or conviction record, identity as a veteran, disabled veteran, Vietnam era veteran, membership in the national guard, state defense force or any other reserve component of the military forces of the United States or this state. Sexual harassment is illegal and will not be tolerated. Co-workers and supervisors may not retaliate against any employee, student, or job applicant because he or she filed a complaint, assisted in an investigation or participated in any proceeding alleging discrimination on the foregoing basis.

The University ensures physical accessibility to work environments for persons with disabilities and will provided reasonable accommodations to ensure equal access to employment. Upon request, the University will provide reasonable accommodations for religious observances and practices. The University is committed to a program of affirmative action for women, racial minorities, persons with disabilities, disabled veterans and veterans of the Vietnam era. While the Chancellor assumes overall responsibility for the success of the program, university administrators and supervisors are responsible and accountable for implementation. Authority for monitoring the program is delegated to Human Resources.

Each individual associated with the University is called upon to pledge a new and revitalized commitment to build and maintain a campus environment free of harassment and discrimination, an environment that fosters mutual respect, recognizes the dignity and worth of all people, and promotes to the fullest, equal employment opportunity through affirmative action.

In compliance with the Clery Act of 1998, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville Annual Security & Annual Fire Safety Report is available for review. Call the UW-Platteville Campus Police Office at 608.342.1584 for a paper copy of the annual report.

The University of Wisconsin System will not reveal the identities of applicants who request confidentiality in writing, except that the identity of the successful candidate will be released. See Wis. Stat. §. 19.36(7).

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