Postdoctoral Scholar for Mechanisms for Enhanced Mixing below Tropical Instability Waves – University of Washington

The Applied Physics Laboratory at the University of Washington (APL-UW) invites applications for a postdoctoral researcher in physical oceanography as part of an NSF-funded project, Evaluating Mechanisms for Enhanced Mixing below Tropical Instability Waves. This project focuses on the equatorial Pacific, home to a complex current system and the El Ninõ Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which has profound implications for ecosystems and human communities that surround the Pacific basin. Mixing processes across isopycnals are thought to be important for governing the vertical transport of heat in the region, thereby playing a key role in modulating the ENSO cycle. However, the full range of mechanisms responsible for mixing are currently unknown. This project focuses on evaluating the hypothesis that Tropical Instability Waves (TIWs), which rim the equatorial cold tongue during La Ninã and neutral ENSO states, may set near equatorial mixing rates by altering the generation, propagation and/or breaking of internal waves.

The postdoc will use observational data to investigate the generation and propagation of internal waves and mixing associated with TIW fronts. They will join a collaborative observational team that includes investigators from APL-UW, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Oregon State University. The postdoc will have the opportunity to participate in two research cruises in Fall 2023/2024 to help collect the observations. Both cruises will include process studies using wirewalker-profiling floats and ship-based measurements, in addition mooring deployments and recoveries.

Specific research directions using the process study data will be designed by the postdoc in conjunction with the project team, and could include the radiation and modulation of internal waves by TIWs; mechanisms for dissipation and mixing; estimating the impact of the observed mixing on heat flux; or other topics to be determined.

In addition to disseminating results at major conferences and in peer-reviewed journals, postdocs are encouraged and mentored in writing grant proposals. A notable feature of APL postdoc positions is the ability to submit grant proposals as PIs under supervision, with the goal of establishing an independent research program and career path.

We strive to promote greater diversity among applicants than is currently found in our field, and we strongly encourage applications from all groups that are underrepresented in the Geosciences. The position is open to capable doctoral recipients in research fields including oceanography, atmospheric sciences, and related fields; degrees not in the list above could also be considered. Candidates must have completed the Ph.D. degree requirements at time of start date.

Candidates should have experience in analyzing in situ, satellite, or model data, and the ability to work well in a team environment. Demonstrated experience with Python, Matlab, or other programming languages is a prerequisite for this position. Ability to communicate scientific results to both broad and expert audiences, orally and in writing, is indispensable to both this position and any subsequent appointments at APL-UW.

Desired skills include experience with observational data, statistics, and data visualization.

University of Washington postdoctoral scholar appointments are for a temporary, defined period not to exceed five years/60 months, including any previous postdoctoral experiences. Finalists will have no more than 24 months of total postdoctoral experience at start date to be eligible for the expected 36 months of this position.

Application Instructions
Each applicant will be expected to submit:

A CV including demonstrated scholarly output (e.g., list of publications, presentations, public datasets or code)
Cover letter with a brief description of present and future research interests and how they align with the Evaluating Mechanisms for Enhanced Mixing below Tropical Instability Waves project mission.
To request disability accommodation in the application process, please contact the UW’s Disability Services Office at 206-543-6450, or 206-543-6452 (TTY), or

Please contact Caitlin Whalen ( for any questions about the position.


The Applied Physics Laboratory is a research unit at the University of Washington. Our research expertise is in ocean physics and engineering, ocean and medical acoustics, polar science, environmental remote sensing, and signal processing. We conduct research and development that is sponsored by a variety of federal and state agencies and take great pride in our long-standing status as a US Navy-designated University Affiliated Research Center (UARC). Our work takes place not only on the University of Washington campus and medical centers, but in field locations around the world – at sea, in the air, and on polar ice caps. We apply rigorous scientific inquiry and engineering excellence in pursuit of solutions to important problems for the good of our region, nation, and world.

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