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Postdoctoral Researcher in Geospatial Artificial Intelligence for Ecosystem Service Assessments

University of Florida

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Postdoctoral Researcher in Geospatial Artificial Intelligence for Ecosystem Service Assessments

Job No: 528468
Work Type: Post Doc Associate
Location: Main Campus (Gainesville, FL)
Categories: Biology/Life Science, Agricultural Sciences
Department: 60080000 - AG-AGRONOMY

Job Description

Classification Title:

Postdoc Aso

Job Description:

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is creating an environment that affirms community across all dimensions. We particularly welcome applicants who can contribute to such an environment through their scholarship, teaching, mentoring, and professional service. If an accommodation due to a disability is needed to apply for this position, please call 352-392-2477 or the Florida Relay System at 800-955-8771 (TDD) or visit Accessibility at UF .

Dr. Zhao's lab in the UF/IFAS Agronomy Department at the University of Florida is seeking a highly creative and motivated postdoctoral researcher in the areas of Geospatial Artificial Intelligence and Ecosystem Services. The candidate will design and conduct research projects that integrate geospatial analysis with artificial intelligence to solve challenging problems in natural resources and environment management. Topics include but are not limited to: (1) remote sensing-based land use and ecosystem change detection and monitoring; (2) high-resolution land use and land cover, vegetation, and biodiversity mapping; (3) crowdsourced image and text data mining for cultural ecosystem service assessments; (4) large-scale soil carbon storage quantification and digital soil mapping (5) ecosystem accounting, ecosystem service supply-demand, synergies, and tradeoff analysis.

The candidate is expected to coordinate research activities, author peer-reviewed publications, mentor graduate research assistants, participate in grant proposal writing, engage in outreach activities, and present research results at professional conferences. The successful candidate will work in a multidisciplinary environment among a team of faculty, postdoc, data analyst, and graduate students across a variety of fields, including Agronomy, Soil, Water and Ecosystem Sciences, Geography, Ecology, Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Salary and Benefits:

The position is for two years, conditional on satisfactory performance after one year. Salary commensurate with experience.

About Us:

The postdoc research associate will join the Geospatial Artificial Intelligence and Ecosystem Services lab led by Dr. Chang Zhao. Dr. Zhao is an assistant professor in the Agronomy Department, UF/IFAS, and leads an interdisciplinary research team affiliated with the Department of Geography, School of Natural Resources and Environment, and Global Food Systems Institute. Our students and staff are encouraged to pursue multidisciplinary coursework and engage with diverse interdisciplinary experts in social, environmental, and economic disciplines.

University Overview:

The University of Florida is a top-ranked public research university located in Gainesville, Florida. According to the 2022-2023 U.S. News and World Report, the University of Florida tied for 29th best overall among national universities and tied for 5th overall for any public university in the United States. In addition, agricultural sciences at UF/IFAS are ranked as No. 4 in the U.S. and No. 14 in the world. Recently, the University of Florida launched a $1 billion initiative to establish itself as one of the country's most preeminent institutions of higher education in artificial intelligence. In 2021, the University of Florida announced a $70 million artificial intelligence partnership with NVIDIA, the partnership will be central to University of Florida's vision to be a national leader in the application of AI, including an expansive plan to elevate its reach and impact in research, teaching, and economic development. UF/IFAS researchers continue to lead the development of AI technologies for agriculture and natural resources. A planned 19,000-square-foot AI hub at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center will serve as a world-class research, extension, and development facility.

Expected Salary:

Commensurate with Education and Experience

Minimum Requirements:
  • A PhD degree (foreign equivalent acceptable) in Geography, Geographic Information Science, Geoinformatics, Environmental Science, Ecology, Statistics, Computer Science, or related fields.
  • Solid backgrounds in geospatial data science and statistical methods, for example:
  • knowledge in spatial analysis and modeling, spatial statistics, and geo-visualization.
  • knowledge of the principles and applications of remote sensing.
  • knowledge in statistical theory and applied statistics to address research questions pertaining to environmental science.
  • Research experience in machine learning and deep learning.
  • Proficiency with one or more scientific programming languages (e.g., Python, R).
  • First-authorship in peer-reviewed articles.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills in English.
  • Strong motivation, work ethics and the ability to work independently.
  • Candidates must be supportive of the mission of the Land-Grant system. Candidates must also have a commitment to UF core values of excellence, discovery & innovation, inclusion, freedom & civility, community, and stewardship.

  • Preferred Qualifications:
    • Familiar with deep learning library, e.g., PyTorch, Tensorflow, Keras.
    • Research experience in remote sensing data processing, e.g., RGB and multispectral satellite and aerial images, LiDAR point clouds and hyperspectral images.
    • Proficiency with GIS programming and Earth Observation data processing tools, e.g., Google Earth Engine, ArcGIS Pro, Web GIS development with R Shiny, ArcGIS Online, ArcPy, ArcGIS API for Python, QGIS, ENVI and ERDAS.

    Candidates with prior research and hands-on experience implementing state-of-the-art machine learning and deep learning algorithms (convolutional neural networks, etc.) for interdisciplinary ecology studies are strongly encouraged to apply.

    Special Instructions to Applicants:

    Application must be submitted by 11:55 p.m. (ET) of the posting end date. Individuals wishing to apply should go online to Careers at UF and submit:
    • Your updated CV
    • A short (1-2 page) research statement about your skills and experience in geospatial artificial intelligence and ecosystem service assessments, your career goals, and how you will connect existing experiences and skillsets with future research plans. Please also indicate where you heard about this job opportunity.
    • Contact information of three references.

    Selected candidate will be required to provide an official transcript to the hiring department upon hire. A transcript will not be considered “official” if a designation of “Issued to Student” is visible. Degrees earned from an education institution outside of the United States are required to be evaluated by a professional credentialing service provider approved by National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES).

    Hiring is contingent upon eligibility to work in the US. The University of Florida is a public institution and subject to all requirements under Florida Sunshine and Public Record laws.

    The University of Florida is an Equal Opportunity Institution. The University and greater Gainesville community enjoy a diversity of cultural events, restaurants, year-round outdoor recreational activities, and social opportunities.

    Health Assessment Required:

    Applications Close: 15 Dec 2023

    To apply, visit

    The University is committed to non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations, genetic information and veteran status in all aspects of employment including recruitment, hiring, promotions, transfers, discipline, terminations, wage and salary administration, benefits, and training.

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