Funded PhD position in Food Security and Sustainability

University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware, USA
Sep 11, 2019
Oct 11, 2019
Career Level
Student / Graduate
Education Level
Desired Certifications
GIS Certification
Job Type
Relocation Cost
No Relocation
Sector Type

The Davis lab group ( at the University of Delaware (USA) is seeking a PhD student interested in environmental remote sensing, food security, and sustainability to join the PhD program in the Department of Geography and Spatial Sciences in Fall 2020. The population of sub-Saharan Africa is expected to more than double by 2050, and nations in the region will need to substantially increase their domestic food production to ensure long-term food security and sustainability. Yet a dearth of agricultural data in many of these countries has prevented quantitative assessments that identify opportunities to enhance food supplies. Remote sensing offers the possibility to estimate crop production across large spatial extents and to identify the reasons for gaps in productivity. This approach can provide a cost-effective alternative for understanding food production systems in nations that have not regularly administered a comprehensive agricultural census and can serve as an important first step in informing food security policies of countries in the region.

The PhD position with a Research Assistantship (RA) provides a competitive stipend of $22,000, a tuition waiver, and subsidized health insurance. The student will work under the direct supervision of Dr. Kyle Davis and will interact and collaborate with a network of interdisciplinary and international scholars. Specific responsibilities will include (but are not limited to): (1) processing and interpreting satellite images and climate data for sub-Saharan Africa, (2) collecting and analyzing field-level data, (3) developing statistical and process-based crop models, and (4) presenting findings at scientific meetings and through scientific publication. RA will be encouraged to develop his/her own dissertation research questions to pursue within the context of the project focus.

Required Education and Experience

  • Master's degree in Data Science, Statistics, Agriculture, Environmental Science, Natural Resources, or a related field.
  • 2 to 4 years of relevant experience and/or research in projects related to crop production, food security, remote sensing, or a related environmental science field.
  • Excellent remote sensing, data analysis/management, and statistical skills (e.g. network analysis, linear algebra, optimization, Bayesian statistics) and ability to review and synthesize large amounts of literature and disparate data sources.
  • Advanced computer skills including fluency in GIS, Google Earth Engine, R, and Python.
  • Ability to work independently and collaboratively as part of a multidisciplinary team.
  • Exceptional attention to detail and strong organizational and time management skills.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills are required.

Interested applicants should send a brief letter of interest, unofficial transcript, and CV (including GPA and GRE scores) via email to Dr. Kyle Davis (kfdavis [at] udel [dot] edu) by November 15 before applying to UD Graduate School. Women and underrepresented minorities are strongly encouraged to apply.

The University of Delaware is an equal opportunity affirmative action employer. Recognized by the Chronicle of Higher Education as one of America’s best universities to work for in 2012, the University of Delaware is located midway between Philadelphia and Baltimore, and is a Sea Grant, Space Grant, and Land Grant institution.

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