Postdoctoral Fellowships for Sustainability Solutions

The University of Southern California (USC) is launching a unique, high-visibility postdoctoral fellowship program as part of Assignment: Earth, the USC campus-wide sustainability framework. The program aims to accelerate sustainability research; train future leaders in academia, government and non-governmental organizations, and industry; and support discovery, evaluation, and implementation of innovative solutions to sustainability problems.  

The Postdoctoral Fellowship

This postdoctoral fellowship seeks to advance the capacities of early-career scholars and researchers to conduct interdisciplinary research on sustainability problems. Applications from any field are welcome; all USC Schools are participating in this program. An interdisciplinary and diverse cohort of fellows will address challenges in one or more of the following areas: 

  • human health and well-being; 
  • infrastructure and the built environment;
  • natural environment and ecosystem services; 
  • communications, policy, and institutions; 
  • risk analysis and economic impacts.  

Each fellow will be mentored by two or more USC faculty members from different disciplines. In addition to their primary affiliation with their chosen research groups, each fellow will dedicate ~20% of their time to programmatic activities with their cohort and other members of the campus sustainability community.  Activities include seminars, weekly ‘coffee hours’, an annual retreat, and other team and knowledge-building opportunities.  

The fellowships are typically 2-year appointments, with an anticipated start date between January and August 2023, and the potential of applying for a 3rd year as appropriate.  Fellows will receive an annual salary of $75-80k (depending on stage of training), up to $3k for relocation expenses, a competitive benefits package, and $7k per year for research expenses, conference travel, and publication costs.

USC Focus on Sustainability

The impacts of climate change are intensifying around the world.  Heat waves, rising sea levels, droughts and more intensive storms are harming health and well-being, particularly among low income populations and people of color.  Climate change is increasing air pollution, threatening agricultural production and food supplies, and further adding to the vulnerabilities of marginalized communities.  USC researchers across disciplines are tackling these critical sustainability issues by addressing challenges facing natural resources, urban health, infrastructure, mobility, communications, behavior, and equity.

The USC initiative on sustainability was launched in 2019 by President Carol Folt with the establishment of the Presidential Working Group (PWG) on Sustainability in Education, Research and Operations. The Postdoctoral fellowship program is one of the first initiatives of Assignment: Earth. 

How to apply

Candidates must have earned a doctoral degree (e.g., Ph.D., Sc.D., M.D., J.D.) within the previous five years in a relevant field of study prior to the start of the appointment.  

Candidates should submit the following materials to the on-line application portal:

  • Cover letter (1 page)
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Research proposal (up to 2 pages)
  • Names, contact information, and a joint statement of endorsement from two (2) USC faculty mentors with primary appointments in two distinct disciplines. The letter should provide a brief statement regarding their plan to provide career support and mentorship for the duration of the appointment. Examples of mentorship activities include, but are not limited to:
    • Conduct yearly reviews of the postdoc’s IDP
    • Attend planned events for the program
    • Assist in preparing the research design and executing the research activities.
    • Arrange forums for the presentation, dissemination, and/or critique of the applicant’s research.
    • Identify potential publication sources and assisting in the preparation and submission of articles and manuscripts.
    • Connect the postdoc to other relevant investigators at USC and at other institutions.
    • Identify external funding sources and assisting in the preparation of grant proposals.
  • Statement that highlights contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion (up to 1 page)
  • Names and e-mail addresses of two (2) references for letters of recommendation 

The Committee will begin reviewing applications beginning November 15 but will fully consider all applications filed by December 6.

For additional information/guidance on mentors, please contact:

Colin Maclay (, Annenberg School of Communication

Jan Amend (, Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Robin Craig (, Gould School of Law

Howard Hu (, Keck School of Medicine of USC

Genevieve Giuliano (, Sol Price School of Public Policy

Mahta Moghaddam (, Viterbi School of Engineering


All USC Schools are participating in this program. Examples of Centers and Institutes include:

Center for Homelessness, Housing, and Health Equity Research
Keck School of Medicine of USC Southern California Environmental Health Sciences Center
METRANS Transportation Consortium
Mobile and Environmental Media Lab
Pratt & Whitney Institute for Collaborative Engineering
USC Dornsife Equity Research Institute
USC Dornsife Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies
USC Price Center for Sustainability Solutions

USC is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, protected veteran status, disability, or any other characteristic protected by law or USC policy. USC will consider for employment all qualified applicants with criminal histories in a manner consistent with the requirements of the Los Angeles Fair Chance Initiative for Hiring ordinance. We provide reasonable accommodations to applicants and employees with disabilities. 

For additional information or inquiries about the Postdoctoral Fellowships for Sustainability Solutions, or the application submission process, please contact