Search: Community Research Fellow

February 24, 2023
A photo of a monarch butterfly in a field of daisies
Photo by Daniela

The University of Minnesota’s Department of Soil, Water & Climate (SWAC) seeks a Community Research Fellow ("Fellow") to engage in relationship-building and research co-design through a 12-month, part-time fellowship.

The primary purpose of this Fellowship is to create and strengthen ties between the research conducted in our department and communities whose voices have historically been excluded from that research. For that reason, we especially encourage Fellows who identify as Black, Indigenous, or other People of Color (BIPOC) to co-develop research that is impactful and transparent. 

We are committed to actions that intentionally create space for previously unheard or underrepresented voices in our disciplines. We seek partnerships with practitioners who have experience as non-profit staff, neighborhood advocates, activists, artists, farmers, community leaders, and/or community organizers. We hope the fellowship program will support long-term relationships between the Fellow and the SWAC community. Through these relationships, we aim to develop new capacities and skills to create and implement community-based research programs.  

The Fellow will receive:

A $10,000 stipend to support work on a 12-month project. We anticipate disbursing $5,000 at the start of the project period, and $5,000 6 months into the project. While the schedule of activities will be set by the Fellow, we envision a commitment consistent with 2 to 3 hours per week.

The Fellow will engage in three types of activities:

  1. Build relationships with the SWAC community of students, staff, researchers, and faculty through activities such as, but not limited to, personal meetings, seminar attendance, collaborative research interactions, and classroom discussions.
  2. Co-develop a collaborative project with a SWAC research team. The Fellow can either choose a “home group” from the list of prospective hosts (see below) or propose their own project and identify a suitable group (provide brief description in application). We define a “home group” as a group of faculty, staff, and students whose research is of particular interest to the Fellow, and will act as their primary collaborators during the Fellowship. 
  3. Participate in efforts to build capacity to implement collaborative research approaches. The Fellow and members of the “home group” will determine relevant activities and complete them together. For example, a Fellow and “home group” faculty, staff, and/or graduate students could complete the joint academic and community Public Health course  Community-Based Participatory Research*.


  • Fellows should have 5 years or more experience as non-profit staff, neighborhood advocate, activist, artist, farmer, community leader, and/or community organizer. No specific occupations, degrees, or certifications are required.
  • Fellows should be experienced in communication, expression, or activities that will support co-development of SWAC research.
  • Fellows should not currently be a student or employee of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. The fellowship is not an opportunity to perform solely academic research. The fellowship program cannot support those requiring residential or full-time work or visas.

Selection Process and Criteria

The SWAC Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) committee, composed of students, staff, researchers, and faculty, will evaluate applications. They will select a Fellow and coordinate a conversation between the Fellow and a “home group,” so each may determine if they are a good fit for one another.

How to Apply

Apply to the Fellow program by submitting an online application by April 28, 2023.

You will be asked to submit: 

  • Your name and contact information
  • A short biography (250-350 words) or upload a digital resume 
  • A statement of interest (250-350 words)
  • Your own proposal OR select a SWAC “home group” from a list

Apply now 


We anticipate completing our evaluation of applications by May 26, 2023. Prospective Fellows may be invited to visit the Department to meet with their “home group” and the DEI committee. A final offer will be extended by June 1, 2023. The position will be a 12-month commitment from approximately June 2023 to June 2024, but the exact start date is negotiable. 


Please direct your questions to SWAC DEI Co-Chairs Brandy Toner ([email protected]) and Maricia Pacheco ([email protected]). 

Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The Department of Soil, Water, and Climate includes faculty, staff, and students who are committed to understanding the earth, environment, and atmosphere and how we interact with our world. We are an interdisciplinary group; we take pride in the fact that our backgrounds and perspectives vary. We embrace the diverse experiences of individuals, communities, cultures, and nations and understand that those experiences enrich and inform our department. We recognize that science and culture are inseparable and are both crucial parts of our work. 

More information on our DEI work can be found on our website.

Prospective “Home Groups” and Topics

Nic Jelinski Group

Our group is interested in soil properties and soil management as it relates to urban agriculture and human health in urban areas. We are generally interested in forming a collaborative relationship with a non-academic partner to explore questions of community interest around soil management or contamination in Minneapolis-St Paul. Our current projects related to urban soils involve:

(1) investigating the spatial distribution of soil contaminants across residential properties,

(2) examining metrics of soil health across various urban land uses, and

(3) measuring the impact of various urban agriculture management strategies on soil health.

We hope to build or enhance strong, lasting interpersonal relationships with a potential Fellow that are founded on mutual trust. Over a period of 12 months we would interact with the Fellow both on and off campus in a variety of settings - the goal of which is to co-develop research ideas or questions of high interest to the Fellow. We are open to interdisciplinary work.

Lindsay Pease Group

Water is one of Minnesota’s most prized natural resources but protecting it is a challenge. Often this is because local water issues begin hundreds of miles from where people experience them. Our group is generally interested in forming a collaborative relationship with the Fellow to explore water quality and quantity issues of interest to local communities. The Pease lab’s current projects involve working with farms on strategies to reduce potential downstream water quality impairments such as harmful algal blooms. Through this program, we hope to work with the Fellow to co-develop research ideas or questions of high interest to community partners and to act as a liaison between upstream and downstream watershed partners. The Pease lab is based in Northwest Minnesota, but we are open to building community partnerships anywhere throughout Greater Minnesota and the Twin Cities. We are also open to interdisciplinary work.

Kyungsoo Yoo Group

We are particularly interested in working with artists or storytellers who like to internalize the science of soils and land-people interactions into artistic forms or in stories for the general public. We look forward to building a collaborative relationship that will result in a formulation of workable ideas within the 12-month time frame. Our research is highly interdisciplinary, and our mission as researchers is to better understand the processes shaping soils as we find them in the field. We have three major research themes.

(1) Global W"o"rming: Although not commonly known, much of high latitude ecosystems have evolved without native earthworms since the last glacier. Such status quo has changed dramatically across the world recently. Humans are vectors of earthworms. We seek to better understand the impacts of those exotic earthworms on the ecosystem.

(2) Bottom-up understanding of land-people interactions in world cultures: The diversity of human-managed landscapes is fascinating. Such diversity owes its complexity not only to environmental conditions but also to cultural, socio-economical, and historical circumstances. We are studying how these people-land dynamics have shaped the landscapes, soils, and ecosystem processes.

(3) Landscape evolution and soil biogeochemistry: The shapes of land are in constant change. For example, on coastal hillslopes in California, pocket gophers, while tunneling soils for foraging and sheltering, generate sediment transport, thus soil erosion. After all, soils move (or are moved), and that matters for the chemistry of soils. We study the coupled nature of landscape evolution and soil biogeochemistry.

Katsutoshi Mizuta (Yuxin Miao) Group

Farmers are always under pressure to produce more yield with fewer inputs. Dr. Katsutoshi Mizuta, currently working as a postdoc with Dr. Yuxin Miao, plans to establish an on-farm precision agriculture trial network across Minnesota to create agriculture practices that are financially, environmentally, and sustainably beneficial to farmers and other stakeholders. Dr. Mizuta is interested in working with a Community Research Fellow to connect with farmers, crop consultants, researchers, extension specialists, students, industry representatives, and other related agricultural professionals. The Miao group team will collaborate with the Fellow organize an annual meeting where on-farm trial results, challenges, experiences, and new technologies will be shared. The Fellow will be supported to learn about how site-specific management recommendations are made based on on-farm data collection and analysis for the community members and practitioners. The Miao group would also like to organize training workshops together with the Fellow to help those who want to adopt the latest precision agricultural technologies. A platform for informal communication to share related information (e.g., questions, ideas, results) could be jointly developed. The Miao group is open to developing and performing other research ideas and interdisciplinary collaborations with a Fellow.