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

Flagstaff, Arizona

Posted in Education and Training

This job has expired.

Job Info

Postdoctoral Scholar - Arizona Tree Stress Explorer and Alert System - Computer Scientist

Location: SICCS
Regular/Temporary: Regular
Job ID: 607103
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 will primarily require working indoors at a computer. The position will require travel to present findings at research meetings, and to provide training sessions to stakeholders of the project, including ADFFM.

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 postdoctoral scholars and one PhD student in addition to faculty mentors and participants.

The Gowanlock 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. To enable near-real-time and high spatio-temporal resolution assessments of tree health in Arizona, the system must be capable of rapidly ingesting data and then performing in-memory parallel processing in shared-memory and distributed-memory environments. This computational infrastructure will be critical to realizing the near-real-time and high-resolution capabilities of the system. From a computational standpoint, the system will transcend the capabilities of other modern tree stress prediction systems and will lead to new and interesting computational challenges.

The successful candidate will be focused on parallel and distributed computing; we will also hire a postdoctoral scholar and PhD student focused on the ecological and remote sensing aspects of the project (see job 607104). The successful candidate will work closely with both the ecology postdoctoral scholar and PhD student. The successful applicant will have the opportunity to develop collaborations with ADFFM and other state actors in addition to the NAU community.

The postdoctoral scholar will serve as scientific lead on the parallel and distributed computing aspect of the project, with primary responsibility for guiding the intellectual development of the software infrastructure. Key activities will include: (a) work with the ecology postdoctoral scholar to ingest data from PlanetScope, ECOSTRESS, Sentinel-2, and Landsat, (b) work with co-PI Gowanlock on the design of the system, which will include performing parallel I/O in MPI, and designing scalable approaches for the data-intensive application, (c) assess scalability of the system as a function of several parameters, such as time between updates to global maps of model outputs, (d) incorporate features beyond the baseline components, including performing spatiotemporal queries on the data, (e) participate in marshalling the data into formats needed by the ecology team and public-facing interface.

Research & Publications - 95%

  • Research will be conducted to ingest data from numerous data sources and process this data using parallel processing techniques.
  • Programming a computer.
  • Release of open source software.
  • Writing manuscripts for publication.
  • Writing documentation for multiple audiences, including end users and software engineers.

Other - 5%
  • Participate in meetings with ADFFM to understand needs.
  • Participate in meetings to discuss data architecture.
  • Other duties as assigned.

Minimum Qualifications

  • PhD in Computer Science or closely related field; experience with the implementation of parallel algorithms for data science and/or other data-intensive contexts.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Record of publication in peer-reviewed journals or conferences.
  • Fluency in English.
  • Experience implementing novel parallel data analysis algorithms in shared- or distributed-memory environments.
  • Incorporating existing parallel implementations into other (larger) software projects.
  • Applying data analysis algorithms to scientific domains.
  • Significant experience designing algorithms using parallel computing libraries, such as PThreads, OpenMP, MPI, CUDA, OpenCL, and ROCm.
  • Advanced knowledge of the C/C++ programming languages.
  • Basic knowledge of Python and associated scientific computing libraries, such as SciPy, Pandas, scikit-learn, and Cython.

Knowledge, Skills, & Abilities

Ability to take initiative and complete tasks without direct supervision

Excellent organizational and project management skills

Ability to synthesize complex information and develop structured analyses in written and visual form

Ability to design parallel algorithms for large-scale data analysis tasks in shared-memory and distribute-memory environments

Knowledge of programming/script writing (Python, C, C++) and the Linux OS

Knowledge of executing jobs on a computer cluster

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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