The Water Institute at UNC periodically recruits energetic, motivated, post-doctoral researchers to work on one or more of our projects. The Water Institute comprises multidisciplinary researchers focused on the interfaces between WaSH (water resources, drinking water supply, sanitation and hygiene), health and development. We have an independently funded research program including diverse projects primarily related to our five focus areas: Institutions, Policies and Regulations to Optimize Water and Sanitation Services; Enhancing Project and Program Efficiency through Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning; Adapting to Water Scarcity and Climate Change; 21st Century Sanitation; and Drinking-Water Safety.
Current Post-doctoral Opportunities
We are looking to recruit a post-doctoral researcher to contribute to and potentially lead components of our ongoing and planned sanitation-related activities.
The principal areas of work would include, but not be limited to, the review of evidence related to effective and efficient sanitation (from policy to programming), compliance and behaviors to impacts in terms of coverage and use; spanning both household and community facilities (health centers, schools, etc.) and other settings. The researcher would also conduct M&E related to sanitation for both traditional infrastructure provision and marketing-focused initiatives – including for example global monitoring and CLTS – in household and other settings. Additional responsibilities would include developing evidence-based resource materials (e.g. briefing notes, manuals, and teaching materials) to support practitioners and communities of practice and to guide effective policy and practice more broadly.
The ideal candidate would have already or be very soon to complete PhD studies in a directly relevant field and would have several years of experience (pre-, during-, or post- PhD) in sanitation implementation or sanitation-related work. Such experience may accrue from work in developing or both developing and developed nations. The candidate would work closely with Professor Pete Kolsky and with Professors Jamie Bartram and Jackie MacDonald Gibson both in planning and designing future sanitation-focused activities and in implementing current and planned work. The position is full-time for one year, and may be renewed subject to performance and the availability of funds. Will start as soon as possible. This position will remain open until filled.
Water-related disease among the American Indian and Alaska Native populations
A National Tribal Water Center & Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium funded postdoctoral position is soon to be confirmed for an energetic, motivated PhD scientist interested in studying the rates of water-related disease among the American Indian and Alaska Native populations. Provision of water and sanitation in the home reduces respiratory, skin and gastrointestinal disease in Alaska Native communities. We now plan to investigate the associations between disease and different types of facilities, such as latrines, modular bathrooms, and in-home facilities on reservations in the lower 48. Primary responsibilities include: design and conduct of quantitative research using large datasets; sharing study results in settings such as local communities, Indian Health Service offices, local and national conferences, and peer-reviewed journals; identifying funding opportunities and contributing to grant application; mentoring and training local staff. Position requires: a Ph.D. in Epidemiology, Public Health, or a closely related field; expertise in quantitative and applied research including quantitative epidemiology; communication skills including mentoring, making conference presentations, and preparing manuscripts for peer-reviewed journals; ability to conduct independent research and to form and/or collaborate with internal and external multi-disciplinary teams. The preferred candidate will: combine technical competence with cultural sensitivity, flexibility, an adventurous spirit, and experience or willingness to work with virtual teams through video/teleconferencing and email; have experience with identifying and responding to funding opportunities; have experience with water and sanitation and experience of in work with Alaska Native, American Indian or native or minority populations overseas. The position is funded for at least 1 year, with up to 3 years, based on performance and availability of funding. Will start as soon as possible.
Water and sanitation behaviors and determinants of behavior among American Indians and Alaska Natives
A National Tribal Water Center & Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium funded postdoctoral position is soon to be confirmed for an energetic, motivated PhD scientist interested working among American Indians and Alaska Natives. We are investigating the perceived value of water among these populations and the associated determinants. Recent meetings with Indian Health Service providers revealed that the value of water and subsequent use and treatment of water and the systems varies widely across Tribes. Low value of water can result in waste and low willingness to pay. We are now planning to determine perceived value and develop a behavior change program to increase the perceived value of water provided by the water treatment systems. Primary responsibilities include: design and implementation of research into water use practices and associated human behavior, knowledge, attitudes and beliefs; design and implementation of behavior change programs for water, sanitation, and health practices; analysis of consumers’ perceptions ; design and implementation of programs evaluations in Indian Health Service areas; analysis of results and formulation of practical recommendations; sharing results in various settings which may include local communities, Indian Health Service offices, local and national conferences, and peer-reviewed journals; identifying funding opportunities and contributing to grant applications; mentoring and training local staff. Position requires: Position requires a Ph.D. in Health Education and Promotion, Public Health, Epidemiology, or a closely related field; expertise in qualitative research, including semi-structured interview design and delivery, survey design, project planning, implementation, analysis, and reporting; expertise in behavior change program development, implementation, and evaluation; demonstrated ability to conduct independent research and to form and/or collaborate with internal and external multi-disciplinary teams in support of research objectives; clear communicator to a variety of audiences; experience in program evaluation; experience with mentoring, ability and willingness to mentor junior staff. The preferred candidate will: combine technical competence with cultural sensitivity, flexibility, an adventurous spirit, and experience or willingness to work with virtual teams through video/teleconferencing and email; have experience with identifying and responding to funding opportunities; have experience with water and sanitation and experience of in work with Alaska Native, American Indian or native or minority populations overseas. The position is funded for at least 1 year, with up to 3 years, based on performance and availability of funding. Will start as soon as possible.
Closed Faculty Opportunities (Recruitment Completed)*
Associate Director for Research
The Water Institute at UNC is recruiting an Associate Director of Research who, in cooperation with the Director, will oversee implementation of the overall research effort of the Institute and work alongside our faculty, researchers, students and staff. Requirements include a doctoral degree in public or environmental health or a related field, a minimum of five years of experience and expertise that aligns with one or more of our WaSH focus areas.
Closed Post-doctoral Opportunities (Recruitment Completed)*
Rapid detection of fecal bacteria in water
Research will include development and characterization of a rapid enzymatic reaction to detect coliform bacteria in water, including comparison to standard methods and testing for applicability under a range of complex, real world conditions. The successful candidate will have a PhD in environmental health microbiology, molecular biology, or a related field with experience in water quality research. A strong grasp of fundamental microbiology is required, as is a strong background of successful lab-based research. Experience with enzymology would be an advantage. The successful candidate will have further Openings for applied research related to water quality and tracking of pollution sources. The position is full-time for one year, and may be renewed subject to performance and the availability of funds.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill developed a program to engage post-doctoral investigators in interdisciplinary research to address information and decision making related to local, national and international water and sanitation (WatSan) programs. With funding from the Fogarty International Center (NIH), this work built capacity among post-doctoral researchers, created interdisciplinary partnerships and established a foundation for problem-based research. This project set out to address the following problem: The systems in place to create, collect, consolidate, and transmit information to those who contribute to WatSan service provision are inadequate, resulting in failed physical and institutional systems, unmet policy goals, insufficient adoption and application of proven good practices, and a lack of a clear direction forward. These failures mean that millions of people, primarily children, die or suffer from preventable causes each year because of a lack of adequate WatSan services. This research took the first steps in formulating a comprehensive understanding of how information is used by policy makers and practitioners in WatSan and it suggested opportunities where application of developments in information technology (IT) can lead to more effective and robust systems in both developing and developed nations. This research collaboration involved units at UNC in the Gillings School of Global Public Health (Office of Global Health, The Water Institute at UNC) and the College of Arts and Sciences (Department of Public Policy). The Office of Global Health administered the program. The aims of the program were to create a team of post-doctoral researchers to address decision making, organizational behavior and information technology in water and sanitation, and to create research capacity for interdisciplinary post-doctoral researchers at UNC in global public health. The conclusions of this research will establish new approaches for designing systems (institutional and technological) to provide accurate and timely information in the appropriate format to support improved WatSan policy making and program implementation. The potential impact of the products of Water Wisdom is high. Policies and programs that are better informed by timely and objective evidence can result in dramatic improvement in the lives of millions of people currently unserved by adequate water or sanitation systems. Even a small impact on policy making has the potential for substantive global public health gains.
*We include a listing of previously-available opportunities with The Water Institute at UNC in order to provide insight into the breadth of investigation carried out by Institute researchers.