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Postdoctoral Fellowship in Movement and Spatial Ecology Tracking Wildlife and Land Cover Change Across Laikipa, Kenya

This internship has closed. To see open and upcoming opportunities, visit the internships page.

The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) is seeking a Postdoctoral Fellow to advance the Smithsonian’s ongoing research into wildlife movements and land cover/land use change in Kenya. This is a full-time, 2-year appointment. The fellow will be jointly based at SCBI’s campus in Front Royal, Virginia, and Mpala Research Centre (MRC) in Laikipia, Kenya. Preferred start date is September 2017.

The successful candidate will pursue innovative research questions in the fields of land cover and land use change dynamics, movement ecology, and spatial ecology, in order to develop applied solutions for critical regional issues. Research topics may include (but are not limited to): the potential carrying capacity of grasslands under drought stress, the impact of fencing on wildlife movements; competition between wildlife and livestock for productive vegetation and water resource; and the effects of overstocking and land use change on grassland vegetation. The postdoctoral fellow will work with Peter Leimgruber (SCBI) and Dino Martins (MRC), and will join a growing team of ecologists and conservation biologists at the Conservation Ecology Center at SCBI.

Learning Objectives: 
  • Collaborate with US and Kenyan colleagues to develop and conduct research to quantify recent land use and land cover change in Laikipia.
  • Explore the movement ecology of wildlife and livestock in the region, and assess how land use/land cover change, and projected climate change, may affect these movements.
  • Link research activities to regional issues of concern by developing applied tools and solutions that benefit both scientific research and partner groups.
  • Compile remote sensing imagery, wildlife occurrence data, information on livestock density and human impact, and other geospatial data across Kenya.
  • Work across Smithsonian research centers, Kenyan wildlife and scientific agencies, and local conservation groups to advance existing collaborations and develop new partnerships. Lead workshops on collecting, managing, and analyzing geospatial data.
  • Build regional technical capacity by coordinating and teaching workshops (and other educational events) on data management, remote sensing and GIS analysis, and other spatial analysis skills.
  • Participate in scientific meetings, develop scientific papers, and engage with colleagues and collaborators pursuing related research questions.
  • Provide guidance and assistance to technicians, students, fellow postdocs, and others carrying out related work.
  • A Ph.D. in ecology, geography, remote sensing, environmental sciences, or a related academic field.
  • Expertise and experience in remote sensing and GIS, especially multi-temporal analysis of land use and land cover change and management of large databases.
  • Significant analysis skills in R; additional programming experience advantageous (e.g. Java and/or Python).
  • Experience designing, organizing, and managing international field work, and teaching in non-traditional environments.
  • Enthusiasm for collaborating across institutions and countries to jointly pursue research topics relevant to both academic and applied audiences.
  • Willing and able to split time between Laikipia, Kenya and Front Royal, Virginia.
The salary for this position is $48,000 per year, plus $2,000 for health benefits.
Front Royal
The intern will make his or her own housing arrangements.
Free parking is available on-site in Front Royal, Virginia.
Term of appointment: 
2 years
Application deadline(s): 
Friday, June 30, 2017
Internship Category: 
How to Apply: 

Interested applicants should submit a CV, names and contact information for three references, and cover letter to by June 30, 2017.

The cover letter should include:

  1. The applicant’s earliest possible start date;
  2. A summary of the applicant’s research and analysis experience in remote sensing, GIS, mapping land cover and land use change, R programming;
  3. One to three examples of how the applicant has worked successfully with international collaborators, or how they would plan to do so.