Opportunities at the Natural Capital Project

See below for opportunities to join the NatCap team.

Open Positions

We are a partnership among Stanford University’s Woods Institute for the Environment, University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment, The Nature Conservancy, and World Wildlife Fund, developing approaches and tools to model and map the distribution of biodiversity and the flow of multiple ecosystem services across land- and seascapes.

Current open positions at The Natural Capital Project:

Coastal GIS Intern

Are you interested in the intersection of ocean science and policy and want to be part of building an ocean community in coastal California? If so, the Center for Ocean Solutions—a collaboration amongst the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, Hopkins Marine Station, Monterey Bay Aquarium, and Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute—invites you to apply for our Coastal Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Internship.

The Center for Ocean Solutions works to solve the major problems facing the ocean and prepares leaders to take on these challenges. We bridge the gap between researchers and decision-makers and identify pathways to solutions within science, technology and policy for solving major ocean challenges. We also equip decision-makers and emerging leaders with the knowledge and skills needed to make decisions that lead to long-term health of the ocean.

Our collaborative, interdisciplinary team composed of researchers from the Center for Ocean Solutions and the Natural Capital Project is proposing to work with planners throughout the state to inform strategic prioritization of nature-based climate adaptation strategies. With state-level coastal agency staff, we will co-develop an online visualization tool that will identify priority sites where coastal habitats can best provide protection from coastal hazards at scales relevant to policy and planning decisions and then highlight policy pathways for implementing nature-based strategies. Ultimately, we will inform the implementation of sustainable and cost-effective alternatives to a concrete and metal-reinforced coastline, promoting the strategic use of natural habitats to protect people and property now and for future generations.


Job Description & Duties
The primary responsibility of the Coastal GIS Intern is to support coastal vulnerability modeling work across the State of California using the InVEST tool from the Natural Capital Project and ArcGIS. Other tasks include:

  • Assist project staff with GIS data compilation for coastal California
  • Manage and organize GIS data sets in ArcCatalog
  • Create geodatabases and supporting metadata
  • Pre-process GIS files to support coastal vulnerability modeling
  • Conduct projections and transformations of GIS data
  • Apply Geoprocessing and Model Builder experience as needed for project support
  • Document GIS methods and communicate effectively
  • Support the education of the use of online tools


We seek a self-starting graduate student or recent graduate with Masters-level experience with the following interests and experience:

  • You have strong interest in ocean science and policy and/or ocean education
  • You are enthusiastic about GIS and spatial analysis
  • You enjoy sharing ideas and communicating with different groups
  • You excel at writing metadata, GIS documentation and methodology
  • You possess strong communication, media and technology skills
  • You are able to work independently, while also knowing when to seek guidance from your peers
  • You are detail-oriented
  • Extensive ArcGIS experience required; previous InVEST experience and/or Python scripting experience is a plus
  • Highly desirable candidates will also have experience with coastal California land use policies and agencies


Hours and Compensation
This position requires an academic six-month commitment of 20 hours per week, beginning in January 2016. Compensation starts at $22/hour. Evening and weekend work that requires travel to campuses in the Monterey Bay and San Francisco Bay Area may be involved.

Start Date: January 2016

To apply: Please email (1) a letter of interest providing background on your GIS experience, (2) a sample of your mapping work (e.g. project, class maps, documentation, metadata), and (3) a CV including a list of three references to:

Eric Hartge, Research Development Manager, Center for Ocean Solutions: ehartge@stanford.edu.

Deadline: November 16, 2015



Post-doctoral Coastal Engineer/Geophysicist

The Natural Capital Project (NatCap) and the School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences at Stanford University seek a creative individual for a 1-2 year post-doc to develop and apply models quantifying the role that vegetation and reefs play in coastal hazard reduction.

The post-doc will work on models for quantifying the role that vegetation and reefs play in coastal hazard reduction. The post-doc will draw upon NatCap’s existing models for coastal protection services provided by wetlands, segrasses, coral and oyster reefs, mangroves, and other coastal vegetation. Working with the SIGMA group (SImulations of Geophysical MultiphAse flows) led by Dr. Jenny Suckale, he/she will develop new computational approaches to modeling the interaction between the coastal ecosystem and the incoming flow. The position requires experience in wave, storm surge and/or nearshore circulation modeling, as well as knowledge of coastal erosion and sediment transport processes. Previous experience in developing numerical models for coupled systems of partial differential equations is highly desirable. The post-doc will also work with economists and social scientists to envision and specify novel connections with other disciplines to better value coastal ecosystems for hazard reduction and human well-being benefits. Finally, the post-doc will work closely with a team of software engineers to ensure the quantitative models are accessbile to users of NatCap’s suite of ecosystem service models and contribute to the development of new web-based apps for environmental policy-makers. Thus, we seek candidates with broad interests and experience and curiosity for a diversity of fields of knowledge and types of projects.

The successful candidate will be a friendly, intelligent, self-directed individual who is excited about working on collaborative projects for the social good. NatCap models are intended to aid in the support of coastal and marine management and to be general and widely applicable, so applicants must be passionate about creating simple, elegant, scientifically robust models for decision-making purposes. The successful applicant will support a variety of NatCap engagements that involve coastal hazard modeling, including development planning in the Bahamas and prioritization of investments in restoration and conservation in the US.

The position is located at Stanford University in the School of School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences, Stanford University. The post-doc with have a shared appointment with the Natural Capital Project and with Dr. Jenny Suckale’s lab in the School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences. Some national and international travel is required.


Preferred Qualifications

  • Ph.D. in civil engineering, coastal engineering, geology, geophysics, oceanography, or a similar field
  • Experience in wave, storm surge and/or nearshore circulation modeling, coastal erosion and sediment transport processes
  • Experience building and calibrating models, confronting them with limited data and expressing uncertainty
  • Excellent programming skills in C/C++, Matlab, or a suitable substitute
  • Experience working with collaborators from diverse backgrounds and interest in working with interdisciplinary teams
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills


How to Apply: For full consideration, please submit a cover letter, CV, and the names of three references to Dr. Katie Arkema (karkema@stanford.edu) and Dr. Jenny Suckale (jsuckale@stanford.edu) with “Coastal Engineer/Geophysicist Post-doc Application” listed in the subject line. We will begin reviewing applications August 1st, 2015 and the position will remain open until filled.

More information on the Natural Capital Project, a partnership among Stanford University, World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy and the University of Minnesota can be found at www.naturalcapitalproject.org. The webpage of the SIGMA lab led by Dr. Jenny Suckale is located at sigma.stanford.edu. Stanford University is an equal opportunity employer, and we are especially eager to identify minority persons and women with appropriate qualifications.



Post-doctoral Research – Valuing Earth’s Largest Lakes

Large Lakes Observatory, U. Minnesota Duluth, in cooperation with the Institute on the Environment, Minnesota Twin Cities and The Natural Capital Project

Earth’s ~20 largest lakes are scattered across the planet and they contain huge quantities of valuable freshwater. There have been only scattered attempts to assess the value that humans derive from them. We are seeking an individual with experience in ecosystem services to work with us to assess the value and services of these unique ecosystems. The individual will be based at the Large Lakes Observatory in Duluth, Minnesota and they will also interact closely with the Natural Capital project and others on the U. Minnesota Twin Cities campus. Full-time support is available for one year with continuation dependent on further funding. Essential qualifications include PhD in ecology, natural resources, economics or allied field along with formal training in the subject of ecosystem services and experience writing for peer-reviewed publication. (Search reopened.) To apply, visit http://www1.umn.edu/ohr/employment/ and search for Job Requisition 301046 in Keywords (set “Jobs Posted Within” to “Anytime”).

For additional information, contact Robert Sterner (stern007@d.umn.edu).



Stanford University is committed to equal opportunity through affirmative action in employment and we are especially eager to identify minority persons and women with appropriate qualifications.

Fellows Program

Scientists interested in pursuing research that aligns with the mission and programs of the Natural Capital Project can engage with us as a NatCap Fellow. This mechanism provides mid- to late-career researchers and professionals with the opportunity to work with NatCap for a short time. It is intended for researchers who have defined a specific project to work on in collaboration with NatCap, and a position to which they will return following this Fellowship (e.g., an academic sabbatical). The Fellowship is designed to provide a self-directed and mutually beneficial learning environment, we hope to learn as much from you and your research as you do from us. Fellows are initiated only after mutual agreement and identification of a primary liaison from NatCap, who will foster mutual learning with other researchers and the broader NatCap team.

If you are interested in engaging with NatCap as a Fellow, discuss first with one of our Lead Scientists or co-founders, and we can take the discussions from there!