Remote Sensing Postdoctoral Fellowship

Note: This is an employment opportunity and not a stipended fellowship

Smithsonian’s Conservation Ecology Center ( is seeking a Postdoctoral Fellow starting in Spring 2023. This three-year NASA-funded fellowship focuses on developing and applying remote sensing workflows for mapping inter-tidal mangrove forests. The successful applicant will develop a 10-year time series of mangrove change maps for the four countries of the Mesoamerican Reef ecoregion, Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and Belize. These maps will be used by other project team members to explore the socioeconomic and governance factors driving mangrove loss or preservation in this region. The successful applicant will be expected to perform innovative research that integrates medium-resolution optical remote sensing data (e.g., Landsat/Sentinel) with other data sources to improve mapping of mangrove forest extent. Remote sensing methods employed for this project should a) incorporate intra-annual vegetation phenology metrics into classification algorithms and b) account for within-class spectral heterogeneity of mangrove forests that traditionally leads to the spatial correlation of classification errors. The successful applicant will also be expected to develop workflows for harmonizing metrics derived from remote sensing data, such as mangrove change and mangrove loss ‘hotspots,’ with social science data for the region.

This position is unique because it supports the integration of remote sensing, social science, and stakeholder engagement to both understand and address mangrove loss. In addition to the primary research responsibility, the awardee will have the opportunity to:

  • Assist with selecting focal communities for intensive social science surveys.
  • Collaborate with additional team members based at Smithsonian, Penn State University, and Zamorano University (Honduras).
  • Contribute to and develop funding proposals for new future research projects.
  • Engage in teaching professional master-level GIS/Spatial Ecology courses at the Smithsonian Mason School of Conservation.
  • Mentor student interns/fellows at NZCBI.

Smithsonian’s 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. The preferred duty station for this position will be either Front Royal, VA or Edgewater, MD.


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 processing optical remote sensing data over large areas and use of machine learning approaches for image classification.
  2. Strong background with digital image processing using software and programming languages such as JavaScript/Google Earth Engine, R, Python, etc.
  3. Strong background in statistics, data management, and analysis using R.
  4. Willingness to travel to professional conferences and NASA Land-Cover and Land-Use Change (LCLUC) meetings in Washington, DC. Possible travel to project countries to meet with local collaborators.
  5. Interest in participating in inter-disciplinary research with a team of ecologists and social scientists to provide science-based recommendations for mangrove management and governance.
  6. Excellent written and oral communication skills and organizational ability, and a demonstrated track record of peer-reviewed publications commensurate with experience.
  7. Highly motivated and productive in producing project deliverables (e.g., remote sensing products and peer-reviewed publications).

Term: 3 years.

Stipend: Annual salary starting at around $60,000. Smithsonian trust employee healthcare and retirement benefits.

Application Deadline: Review of applications will start on March 23, 2023.

Notification Date: The position will remain open until filled, with the desired start date of April-May 2023.

Program URL:

Contact Information:

Dr. Grant Connette,

1500 Remount Road, Front Royal, VA 22630


The SOLAA application system will be open until the position is filled. Interested applicants should submit their cover letter (stating their preferred start date - ideally April/May), CV, and the names and contact information of 3 references (reference letters will only be requested when applicants are shortlisted) on the Smithsonian SOLAA system. To apply, you need to register in the SOLAA system ( and search for “Spatial Ecology Postdoctoral Fellowship” under “National Zoological Park”. Questions about the position can be addressed to Dr. Grant Connette (ConnetteG@SI.EDU).


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