Postdoctoral Scholar

Location: SICCS
Regular/Temporary: Regular
Job ID: 607399
Full/Part Time: Full-Time

Workplace Culture

NAU aims to be the nation's preeminent engine of opportunity, vehicle of economic mobility, and driver of social impact by delivering equitable postsecondary value in Arizona and beyond.

Special Information

  • This position is eligible for on-site, hybrid, or remote work:
  • On-site positions require the incumbent to complete their work primarily at an NAU site, campus, or facility with or without accommodation. Opportunities for remote work are rare.
  • Hybrid positions allow the incumbent to complete their work at both an NAU site, campus, or facility and at a non-centralized site with or without accommodation.
  • Remote positions allow the incumbent to complete their work at a location other than an NAU site, campus, or facility with or without accommodation. The incumbent may occasionally work in a shared site, but primarily will work elsewhere.
  • This position is subject to the availability of funding. The incumbent is not eligible for Service Professional non-renewal notice, or Classified Staff layoff or recall status.

Job Description

The Postdoctoral Scholar position supports research and development in the Global Earth Observation and Dynamics of Ecosystems (GEODE) Lab in the School of Informatics, Computing, and Cyber Systems (SICCS) at Northern Arizona University's Flagstaff campus. The Postdoctoral Scholar will work on projects focused on mapping, monitoring and modeling broad scale ecosystem changes, incorporating climate, land use and disturbance. The work will include extensive use of imagery from a range of sources, primarily satellite-based but also airborne remote sensing, climate observations, and climate projections to derive geospatial products characterizing ecosystem properties (e.g. canopy structure, biomass, habitat heterogeneity, disturbance severity, vegetation regrowth dynamics) and conservation priorities. The work will focus on a variety of ecosystems including boreal, temperate and tropical forests. There will be opportunities to work in the following areas: 1) fusing multi-sensor imagery, geospatial datasets and field observations to map and predict ecosystem properties and change, 2) modeling species distributions and vulnerability, 3) landscape connectivity modeling and landscape pattern analysis to identify biodiversity conservation priorities, 4) software and algorithm development using Python, Google Earth Engine, R and similar open-source platforms. The ability to synthesize complex information and develop structured analyses in written and visual form is essential.

Research Activities - 70%

  • Directs, monitors and participates in research activities including data collection, evaluation and analysis for remote sensing and projects in studying ecosystem responses to environmental change
  • Conducts complex research work and independently reviews professional literature to design and apply appropriate research methodologies, techniques and procedures.
  • Assists faculty researchers, or may act independently, in the planning and designing of research projects, establishing priorities and recommending schedules, time tables and costs.
  • Assists faculty researchers, or may act independently, in the preparation and writing of research proposals for new funding sources.
  • Co-authors or authors research papers and manuscripts for publication and presents them at conferences and workshops.
  • Creates, fabricates, operates, maintains, repairs and trains others in the operation of research support equipment for the gathering and processing of research data.

Software Development - 15%

  • Develops code, develops modules, performs software unit testing, integrated testing, and usability testing.
  • Documents and archives code using GitHub, BitBucket, or other version control software.

Research Supervisory Activities - 5%

  • Leads research activities of other research project staff and graduate students.

Administrative Activities - 5%

  • Performs administrative functions such as helping to manage laboratory equipment (including drones); prioritizes and coordinates the use of data storage on Monsoon High Performance Computing Cluster.

Other - 5%

  • Other duties as assigned.

Minimum Qualifications

  • The qualified candidate should have a Ph.D. in Remote Sensing, Computer Science, Environmental Science, Geography, and/or a related discipline.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Experience using earth observation imagery.
  • Familiarity with lidar data processing and analysis.
  • Familiarity with acquiring and processing data collected via airborne remote sensing, including drones.
  • Demonstrated ability to conduct spatial analysis and manage large databases.
  • Experience using a variety of software/geospatial tools.
  • Demonstrated advanced remote sensing and GIS experience.
  • Familiarity with the principles of ecosystem processes and dynamics.
  • Strong publication record.

Knowledge, Skills, & Abilities


  • Knowledge of programming / script writing (Python, R, GDAL, C/C#, SQL, Perl, Java, and/or IDL).


  • Skill in using digital image processing software packages including open-source options as appropriate.


  • Ability to synthesize complex information and develop structured analyses in written and visual form.
  • Ability to perform complex geoprocessing and manipulate large datasets using personally developed and other scripts.
  • Fluency in performing geospatial tasks in a multi-operating system environment.
  • Ability to work independently and as part of an interdisciplinary research team.
  • Ability to work effectively in a culturally diverse and interdisciplinary research environment.

Background Information

Northern Arizona University requires satisfactory results for the following: a criminal background investigation, an employment history verification and a degree verification (in some cases) prior to employment. You may also be required to complete a fingerprint background check. Additionally, as an employer in the state of Arizona, NAU is required to participate in the federal E-Verify program that assists employers with verifying new employees' right to work in the United States. Finally, each year Northern Arizona University releases an The report is a result of a federal law known as the Clery Act. The report includes Clery reportable crime statistics for the three most recent completed calendar years and discloses procedures, practices and programs NAU uses to keep students and employees safe including how to report crimes or other emergencies occurring on campus. In addition, the is combined with the Annual Security Report for the NAU Flagstaff Mountain Campus as this campus has on-campus student housing. This report discloses fire safety policies and procedures related to on-campus student housing and statistics for fires that occurred in those facilities. If you would like a free paper copy of the report, please contact the NAUPD Records Department at (928) 523-8884 or by visiting the department at 525 E. Pine Knoll Drive in Flagstaff.


Anticipated salary range is $62,000 to $68,474. Annual salary commensurate with candidate's qualifications and related experience.

FLSA Status

This position is exempt from the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and therefore will not earn overtime or compensatory time for additional time worked.


Post-Doctoral Scholars are hired on a contract basis, renewable each fiscal year for a maximum of 4 renewals (5 years) according to terms of the Arizona Board of Regents' NAU offers an excellent benefit package to Post-Doctoral Scholars including generous health, dental and vision insurance; 10 days of vacation and 10 holidays per year; and tuition reduction for employees and qualified family members. New employees are eligible for benefits on the first day of the pay period following their enrollment, after their employment date. Employees will have 31 days from their start date to enroll in benefits. Participation in NAU retirement plans is not available to Post-Doctoral Scholars. More information on benefits at NAU is available at the NAU

Learning and Development

Your career at Northern Arizona University includes the opportunity for professional development. includes courses to be completed within the first 30 days.

Application Deadline: November 20, 2023 at 11:59 p.m.

How to Apply

To apply for this position, please click on the "Apply" button on this page. You must submit your application by clicking on the "Submit" button by midnight of the application deadline. If you need assistance completing your application there are instructions available on the in person in the Human Resources Department located in Building 91 on the NAU Campus - on the corner of Beaver and DuPont Streets.

If you are an individual with a disability and need reasonable accommodation to participate in the hiring process, please contact the Disability Resources Office at 928-523-8773,, or PO Box 5633, Flagstaff AZ 86011.

Equal Employment Opportunity

Northern Arizona University is a committed Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Institution. Women, minorities, veterans and individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply. NAU is responsive to the needs of dual career couples.

NAU is an Employer of National Service. AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, and other National Service alumni are encouraged to apply.

24 October 2023     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.