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Postdoctoral Fellowship in Remote Sensing & Spatial Ecology at Smithsonian

Smithsonian Institution
Front Royal Virginia
up to $60,000 per year + benefits
Closing date
May 2, 2021

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Postdoctoral Fellowship in Remote Sensing & Spatial Ecology

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI)- Conservation Ecology Center ( is seeking a Postdoctoral Fellow starting in summer 2021.

The NASA-funded three-year fellowship focuses on advancing SCBI’s remote sensing and wildlife research capacity. This multi-disciplinary project seeks to leverage the spaceborne waveform lidar data from NASA’s Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) mission and integrate it with extensive species observations to explore how active remote sensing-based vegetation structural data can improve biodiversity mapping at the continental and global scales.

The awardee is expected to develop innovative research on processing large volumes of spaceborne waveform lidar data to create novel methods to characterize habitat heterogeneity, produce user-friendly habitat heterogeneity products, and explore how the new information can improve the existing understanding of biodiversity modeling of different taxonomic groups. This position is unique in that it relies on multiple large biodiversity datasets and will involve incorporating large volumes of both active and passive remote sensing data at the continental or global scale.

In addition to the primary research responsibility, the awardee will have the opportunities to

  • Contribute to and develop collaborative spatial ecology proposals and research projects.
  • Engage in teaching professional master level GIS/Spatial Ecology courses at Smithsonian Mason School of Conservation.
  • Mentor student interns/fellows at SCBI.

The position will remain open until filled, with the desired start date of June-July 2021. Reviewing of the applications will start on April 10, 2021.

Awardee benefits include:

  • Annual salary starting at $60,000
  • Smithsonian trust employee healthcare and retirement benefit.


The successful candidate must have a Ph.D. in Physical Geography, Remote Sensing, Environmental Sciences, Computer Science, Ecology, or a related field by the start date of the position. Must be able to work independently yet collegially in a team environment.

Specifically, we look for candidates with:

  1. Extensive experience in remote sensing using active or/and optical remote sensing data, especially airborne or spaceborne waveform lidar data.
  2. Strong background with computing software and programming languages such as IDL, Python, JavaScript/Google Earth Engine, C++, R, etc. 
  3. Familiarity of large scale biodiversity modeling and mapping.
  4. Excellent written and oral communication skills and organizational ability, and a demonstrated track record of peer-reviewed publications commensurate with experience.
  5. Interest in collaborating with ecologists to apply remote sensing methodologies and products to advance understanding of wildlife conservation and spatial ecology. 
  6. Highly motivated and productive in producing project deliverables (e.g., remote sensing products and peer-review publications).

The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute is located at the north entrance of the Shenandoah National Park, about 60 miles west of Washington, D.C., in Front Royal, VA. SCBI’s mission is to advance the conservation of biological diversity. In meeting the Smithsonian Institution’s mandate, SCBI increases knowledge through investigations of threatened species, habitats, and communities and disseminates knowledge through advanced studies, professional training, and public outreach.

This position is subject to the Smithsonian’s background check policy. The candidate will be required to travel to Washington D.C. at least once for background check purposes. However, there will be flexibility for telework options during the pandemic. The awardee is expected to be relocated to Front Royal when the SCBI office reopens.

The SOLAA application system will be open until the position is filled. Interested applicants should submit their cover letter (stating preferred starting time), CV, and the names and contact information of 3 references on the Smithsonian SOLAA system. To apply, you need to register on the Smithsonian SOLAA system ( and search for “Postdoctoral fellowship” under “National Zoological Park”. The program name is “Spatial Ecology Postdoctoral Fellowship”. Questions about the position can be addressed to Dr. Qiongyu Huang (HuangQ@SI.EDU).

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