The University of Chicago — Research Associate – Urban Theory Lab

The University of Chicago’s Urban Theory Lab (UTL) seeks to develop frameworks of critical spatial knowledge that illuminate the planetary dynamics of urbanization and environmental transformation under modern capitalism. This research includes spatially and environmentally attuned studies of the sociometabolic processes that underpin historical and contemporary forms of urbanization, such as extraction, agricultural production, energy generation and waste circulation. In pursuing these investigations, the UTL critically interrogates and deploys diverse forms of spatial and environmental data in order to visualize the interplay of urbanization with (i) non-city territories and environments; (ii) energy regimes; (iii) geopolitics and empire; and (iv) planetary environmental crises such as global warming and biodiversity loss.

The Research Associate will work closely with the senior research team (currently composed of the faculty Director and two Senior Research Associates) to develop the Lab’s approach to data collection, data analysis, spatial media, and visualization. The Research Associate will be primarily responsible for investigating, assembling, and curating spatial and environmental data required for UTL projects. This work will involve close coordination with the UTL senior research team regarding the data and informational requirements, workflows, and products associated with an ambitiously interdisciplinary research program. It will also entail the training and supervision of student research assistants who will be working in support of specific UTL research projects. More generally, the Research Associate will support the UTL’s ongoing work on the politics of spatial and environmental knowledge while also enhancing our capacity to (re)deploy data in critical research and spatial media.

In addition to these research-related duties, the Research Associate will contribute to the UTL’s pedagogical work in the Committee on the Environment, Geography, and Urbanization (CEGU), generally as an instructor or co-instructor in college-level courses.

The UTL welcomes applicants from a range of disciplinary backgrounds, skilled in diverse methods and modes of investigation. Disciplinary backgrounds may include (but are not limited to) architecture, landscape architecture, and urban planning; geography and geographic information science; computer and data science; and ecology and other biogeophysical sciences. Methods and modes of investigation may include (but are not limited to) any combination of the following:

  • critical approaches to physical geography, remote sensing, and/or environmental sciences;
  • forensic approaches to the spatial and environmental dimensions of conflict, violence, and injustice;
  • socio-environmental analysis of material flows and metabolic systems;
  • data-scientific and/or computational approaches to geospatial information and spatial analytics;
  • expertise in global land-use change, environmental monitoring, and/or sustainability studies;
  • expertise in geospatial data classification and/or digital information management

The position requires an advanced degree in any discipline that provides appropriately specialized training in any of the areas listed above. Candidates should demonstrate a strong record of research-oriented work drawing from academic and/or professional experience. This may include advanced scholarship and/or professional experience in a role supporting spatial and environmental research activities.

Applications must be submitted online, at the University of Chicago’s Interfolio website,, and are required to include: 1) a brief cover letter; 2) CV; 3) a portfolio or other relevant documentation of previous relevant work; 4) contact information for three references.

Review of applications will begin on March 17, 2023 and will continue until the position is filled or the search has ended. Appointments will begin on or after September 1, 2023.

All University departments and institutes are charged with building a faculty from a diversity of backgrounds and with diverse viewpoints; with cultivating an inclusive community that values freedom of expression; and with welcoming and supporting all their members.

We seek a diverse pool of applicants who wish to join an academic community that places the highest value on rigorous inquiry and encourages diverse perspectives, experiences, groups of individuals, and ideas to inform and stimulate intellectual challenge, engagement, and exchange. The University’s Statements on Diversity are at

The University of Chicago is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity/Disabled/Veterans Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, age, status as an individual with a disability, protected veteran status, genetic information, or other protected classes under the law. For additional information please see the University’s Notice of Nondiscrimination.

Job seekers in need of a reasonable accommodation to complete the application process should call 773-702-1032 or email with their request.