Post-Doctoral Position – Spatial Patterns in Vegetation Traits and Foliar Function / Hyperspectral Remote Sensing

Department of Forest & Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin, USA
Deadline: Sept 1, 2017

The Townsend Lab ( at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is seeking a post-doc interested in the study of patterns of foliar traits as derived from imaging spectroscopy (hyperspectral remote sensing). Over the last several years, our group has been using field data and hyperspectral imagery to map foliar biochemical/physiological traits, such as nitrogen, leaf mass per area, pigments, in a range of ecosystems for several projects. We are now interested in synthesizing some of these data from many locations to better understand generalities in the hyperspectral data as well as in ecological relationships.  This work will be collaborative, and work with data from multiple sensors.  The position requires strong quantitative skills (R and/or Python are our primary tools), experience with remote sensing data, and a background in ecology or environmental sciences. Studies to be synthesized include data from forests, grasslands, and agro-ecosystems in the eastern US, at NEON domains, on the Indian subcontinent, and in California as part of NASA’s HyspIRI airborne project.

The responsibilities of the post-doc include:

  • Collaboration with Townsend Lab team members and our collaborators to develop, validate and compare vegetation trait models from imaging spectroscopy data
  • Synthesis of biochemical/physiological trait maps and trait models across multiple ecosystem types
  • Testing new quantitative methods for mapping traits and analyzing their patterns
  • Analysis of ecological patterns from trait maps derived across many sites and systems
  • Contribute to and write papers based on the analyses.

Prospective candidates should have:

  • A Ph.D. in-hand in geography, biology/ecology, ecosystem or environmental science, or a related discipline,
  • Experience with remote sensing data and its analysis, and
  • Strong statistical background, and preferably related experience programming in R or Python.

Applicants must have excellent English writing and verbal communication skills, as well as the ability to work and lead a research team, are essential.

The start date for the position is September or October, 2017, but is flexible and can be sooner.  The position is available for two years, pending satisfactory performance. Further years are contingent on funding.

University, Department, Labs:
The University of Wisconsin-Madison is one of the major research universities in the United States ( It ranks 2nd in research expenditures among all U.S. universities and first among public universities. Total student enrollment is 41,500, out of which 8,800 are graduate students.  Employees include 2,000 faculty. UW-Madison has a long history of excellence in ecology, conservation biology, and wildlife biology (  The Townsend Lab maintains state-of-the-art facilities for remote sensing research, including computation power, as well as a broad range of field spectrometers, two imaging spectrometers, calibration equipment, and ecosystem measurement instrumentation.

Madison, Wisconsin consistently ranks as one of the best places in the United States to live, work, and study.  It is Wisconsin’s capital city, with a vibrant metropolitan population of approximately 500,000 that combines small town charm with a nice variety of leisure and cultural opportunities.  For more information on campus and town see:

Application Process:
Applications will be reviewed upon receipt and review will continue until a suitable candidate is chosen. Applications received before September 1, 2017 will be given full consideration.  The University of Wisconsin-Madison is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. We promote excellence through diversity and encourage all qualified individuals to apply.  The position is open to both US citizen and international candidates.
Interested applicants are asked to e-mail the documents listed below to Dr. Phil Townsend. Please send the documents compiled together in ONE PDF named YourSurname.pdf with “Foliar Traits Postdoc Application 2017” in the email subject line.

  • Letter outlining research interests, academic and professional background
  • Resume or CV
  • Copies of transcripts (unofficial copies are acceptable)
  • Names and contact addresses of three references

Questions should be directed to Dr. Phil Townsend (