Postdoctoral Scholar in Coastal Physical Oceanography – University of Washington


The Applied Physics Laboratory at the University of Washington (APL-UW) invites applications for a postdoctoral researcher in coastal physical oceanography as part of a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded study of the dynamics of rip currents and cross-shore exchange between the surf zone and inner shelf in the presence of temperature gradients. The postdoc will use a combination of existing airborne (infrared, visible, radar) and in situ observations (shipboard and mooring temperature, velocity, turbidity) and idealized coupled wave-ocean modeling (ROMS and SWAN within the COAWST modeling system) to investigate the dynamics of nearshore rip-current plumes, which are important for the exchange of larvae, pollutants, and sediment between land and the shelf. Specific research directions will be designed by the postdoctoral investigator with the team, and could include dependence of rip-current plume behavior on density gradients and wave forcing, causes of more buoyant or dense surfzone waters relative to the shelf, interaction of plumes with internal waves and other shelf processes, applications to harmful algal blooms, or other topics to be determined. The postdoc will work directly with investigators in the Air-Sea Interaction and Remote Sensing Department (AIRS) in APL-UW as well as the University of Washington Environmental Fluid Mechanics (EFM) group. The postdoc will collaborate with additional study participants at APL-UW, UW School of Oceanography, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and additional institutions. The role of the postdoc will be using the COAWST modeling framework for coupled wave-ocean simulations, the analysis of remote sensing and in situ observations, and model-data comparison, theoretical analysis, and dissemination of results at workshops, conferences and through peer-reviewed journals. The postdoc will be based at the University of Washington – Seattle Campus with the possibility for hybrid telework arrangement. The start date is expected within calendar year 2022 and the duration of appointment is 2 years (24 months).


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.

To this end, the position is open to capable doctoral recipients in STEM research fields, including candidates holding degrees or graduating from institutions not specializing in physical oceanography.

Candidates must have completed the Ph.D. degree requirements in a STEM field at time of start date, with extensive background in physical or environmental sciences, or engineering. Candidates should have experience in, or aptitude for, numerical modeling and self-directed research focused on the application of physical science to the natural environment. Mathematical skills, familiarity with the Linux computing environment, and demonstrated experience with Python, Matlab, or other programming languages are prerequisites for this position. Desired skills include experience with ROMS, the COAWST modeling system, or similar numerical modeling tools, and familiarity with remote sensing methods.

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. 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.

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

Application Instructions

Each applicant will be expected to submit:

  1. A CV including demonstrated scholarly output (e.g., list of publications, presentations, public datasets or code)
  2. Cover letter with a brief description of present and future research interests

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

Informal inquiries on duties or requirements are encouraged to contact Drs. Melissa Moultonand C. Chris Chickadel

Review of applications is expected to begin in December and will continue until the position is filled.


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.

University of Washington Environmental Fluid Mechanics

The EFM group brings together researchers from across UW interested in the fluid mechanics of rivers, lakes, and oceans. The students, postdocs, faculty, and staff in the group are committed to creating and upholding a diverse, collaborative, and inclusive environment. 

The goal of the Environmental Fluid Mechanics group is to advance impactful, rigorous research to serve society and understand environmental change. The research within this group spans a wide range of applications in the environment, from theoretical models of turbulence to coastal management questions. We foster open access in our research, including sharing ideas, methods, and results in accessible formats. Our group meets weekly to discuss technical aspects of research as well as to build community and just have fun.

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