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Postdoctoral positions in invasive species and landscape forecasting at NC State University

The Center for Geospatial Analytics (geospatial.ncsu.edu) at North Carolina State University invites applicants for two postdoctoral research scholars talented in both spatial data science and modeling the spread of invasive species. These new positions will join the Pest and Pathogen group of the Landscape Dynamics Lab led by Drs. Ross Meentemeyer and Chris Jones.

The Landscape Dynamics Lab specializes in forecasting landscape and environmental change with emphasis on collaborating with stakeholders to explore what may happen in the future under different scenarios. We turn complex models and simulations into user-friendly discovery tools by developing sophisticated back-end algorithms and interactive front-end dashboards that visualize location data clearly and quickly. Our pests and pathogens team is coupling landscape forecasts of invasion dynamics with interactive decision analytics to help practitioners compare strategies to control spread. We cultivate an open source community of users and developers who advance our methods and models and find new applications.

Multiple current projects involve partnering with the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to build tools to quantify at-risk areas and inform their decisions regarding invasive pest and pathogen management. These and other research collaborations adopt a participatory modeling approach, wherein we work closely with individuals who both affect and are affected by invasive species to co-create data, forecasts, and visualizations that support real-world action.

We seek talented and motivated spatial data scientists to join these funded projects. Ideal candidates will demonstrate:
- experience in spatial data analysis and computing, big data management, and programming (Python, R, and database management skills);
- aptitude for modeling biological invasions with a focus on understanding spread dynamics;
- skills to optimize processing of large datasets such as outputs from satellite data and raster-based model with cloud computing;
- evidence of developing or using dynamic spatial-temporal models;
- experience and/or interest in open science with aptitude for learning git and GitHub;
- excellent written and oral communication skills to share results with individuals and groups both within and outside of their scientific discipline.

Primary tasks will include 1) analysis and visualization of forecasts, including parameterization, calibration, and validation, 2) automation of data collection and processing for near real-time applications, 3) analysis of uncertainty related to initial conditions, observational data, parameter estimates, and input data (e.g., weather conditions and host distributions), 4) adding functionality to forecasts through development of new modules, 5) coding optimization algorithms to compare management solutions, and 6) playing a leadership and contributing role in writing articles for submission to peer-reviewed journals. There will also be opportunities to seek grant funding to develop related, independent research.

The Center for Geospatial Analytics at NC State University is an internationally recognized hub for interdisciplinary data scientists advancing novel understanding of spatial phenomena and applying new knowledge to grand challenges. NC State is an R1 (Very High Research Activity) university with a strong commitment to the land-grant mission. Along with Duke and UNC Chapel Hill, NC State forms one of the corners of the Research Triangle, a dynamic area home to many start-ups and high-tech companies, particularly in the biotech sector. The area features a high standard of living and cultural and recreational opportunities at a relatively low cost.

Each postdoctoral scholar position will be funded for one to three years with the possibility for extension, an annual salary of $55,000, and healthcare benefits.

Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the positions are filled. The expected start date is late August 2019. To apply, send a cover letter, CV, and contact information for three references to both Dr. Chris Jones (cmjone25@ncsu.edu) and Dr. Ross Meentemeyer (rkmeente@ncsu.edu).