Postdoctoral Scholar - Arizona Tree Stress Explorer and Alert System
Northern Arizona University

Flagstaff, Arizona

Posted in Education and Training

Job Info

Postdoctoral Scholar - Arizona Tree Stress Explorer and Alert System

Location: SICCS
Regular/Temporary: Regular
Job ID: 607104
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

Most work will be conducted in the office, but occasional field campaigns across Arizona will be required.

This position is renewable up to 3 years subject to availability of funding and performance.

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 Arizona Tree Stress Explorer and Alert System will provide near-real time, high spatio-temporal resolution assessments of tree health across all of Arizona. To provide this first-of-its-kind service at high spatial and temporal resolutions, the system requires high-throughput modeling of large amounts of satellite data daily to make tree stress predictions across a large spatial area. The models underlying the system will rely on in situ ecophysiological measurements of tree stress and leaf optical reflectance. The system will provide analytic results to the public and the Arizona Department of Fire and Forest Management (ADFFM) through interfaces designed by a leading firm. Use cases of the system will include early interventions for stressed forest stands and academic research on the determinants of tree stress, vulnerability, and intervention success. The successful candidate will be a member of a team composed of two postdocs and one PhD student in addition to faculty mentors and participants.

The Ecosystem Science Lab at the School of Informatics, Computing, and Cyber Systems (SICCS) at Northern Arizona University's Flagstaff campus seeks a 3-year Postdoctoral Scholar to conduct research that will underlie the Arizona Tree Stress Explorer and Alert System. The successful candidate will conduct research to model tree water and bark-beetle-induced stress from satellite remote sensing imagery and field data. The scholar will be focused on ecological and remote-sensing modeling; we will also hire a post-doctoral scholar focused on computing and processing massive-scale remote sensing data (see job 607103), and a PhD student focused on the ecological aspects of this project. This position will work closely with both the computing postdoctoral scholar and the ecology PhD student to carry out the work necessary to build predictive models of tree stress from optical reflectance data. The successful applicant will have the opportunity to develop collaborations with ADFFM and other state actors in addition to the NAU community.

The scholar will serve as scientific lead on the ecological and remote sensing aspect of the project, with primary responsibility for guiding the intellectual development of the methodology for building optical reflectance models of tree water and bark-beetle-induced stress. Key activities will include: (a) work with PI Shenkin to develop a sound methodology for collecting data to build predictive models, (b) parameterize and train remote sensing-based models to detect tree stress, including PlanetScope, ECOSTRESS, Sentinel-2, and Landsat data, (c) plan and participate in field work with the PhD student, (d) liaise with collaborators to collect, process, and analyze field data, (e) participate in the design of the data and computing architecture, and the public-facing interface with a leading design firm.

Research & Publications - 95%

  • Work collaboratively with research team to develop sound methodology for modeling tree stress using optical reflectance and field data.
  • Lead effort to apply remote-sensing based models.
  • Author manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed journals.

Other - 5%
  • Participate in meetings with ADFFM to understand needs.
  • Participate in web/app design process.
  • Other duties as assigned.

Minimum Qualifications

  • Ph.D. in Remote Sensing, Ecological Modeling, Computer Science, Environmental Science, Geography, or a related discipline.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Record of publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
  • Fluency in English.
  • Experience using earth observation imagery, and PlanetScope data in particular. Experience with Landsat, Sentinel-2, and ECOSTRESS is desirable.
  • Demonstrated ability to conduct spatial analysis using Machine Learning techniques 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.
  • Familiarity with the principles of plant water relations and experience measuring plant water status.

Knowledge, Skills, & Abilities

  • Fluency in performing geospatial tasks in a multi-operating system environment.
  • Knowledge of programming / script writing (Python, R, GDAL, C/C#, SQL, Perl, Java, and/or IDL) and the Linux OS.

  • Excellent organizational and project management skills.

  • Ability to take initiative and complete tasks without direct supervision.
  • 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.
  • Ability to work independently and as part of an interdisciplinary and culturally diverse research team.

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 Annual Security Report. 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 Fire Safety Report 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.


Salary range begins at $54,799. 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' Conditions of Post-Doctoral Service. 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 HR benefits page.

Learning and Development

Your career at Northern Arizona University includes the opportunity for professional development. New employee on-boarding training includes courses to be completed within the first 30 days.

Application Deadline

April 13, 2023 at 11:59 pm.

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 Human Resources website or 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.

Know Your Rights Poster

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

To apply, visit

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