Quantitative Ecology

Principal Investigator

NASA Postdoc: Tropical Drought & Remote Sensing

Deadline: Open until filled. Review begins Oct. 25

Compensation: $59,000 plus benefits

Location: Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (Edgewater, Maryland), with some international travel

Anticipated Start Date: Flexible, as early as January 2022

Duration: 2.5 years

We are recruiting for a postdoctoral position for a new NASA ROSES grant, focused on using remote sensing data to predict tropical forest drought response. Project investigators include scientists at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC), West Virginia University, NASA Goddard, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and the University of Twente. The postdoctoral position will be hosted at SERC with Principal Investigator Sean McMahon and integrated within the Smithsonian Forest Global Earth Observatory network (ForestGEO), and coadvised at West Virginia University with Professor Loren Albert.

We are looking for a self-motivated, detail-oriented researcher for an exciting team project investigating tropical forest drought response across multiple scales using remote sensing, flux data, forest inventory data, plant physiological traits, canopy models, and statistical scaling. The job is budgeted for 2.5 years. The position includes field collection trips to neotropical and Southeast Asian forest plots, data analysis and statistical scaling, and will be located at SERC. Skills training and professional development are a part of this position. (For more detailed information, see the project description "Quantifying Leaf-to-Landscape Predictors of Tropical Forest Drought Vulnerability" here.)


  • Ph.D. in ecology, statistics, plant physiology or a related field
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team
  • Record of publishing in peer-reviewed journals
  • Willingness to travel and lead a team in tropical field research
  • Proficiency in a programming language (e.g., R, Python, C++)

Preferred background experience:
(We are not expecting candidates to have expertise in all of these areas, and there are training opportunities across these categories)

  • Remote sensing (especially LIDAR and hyperspectral imaging)
  • Plant physiology
  • Tropical forest ecology
  • Carbon cycle and climate change research
  • Bayesian modeling or advanced statistical tools

The SERC and ForestGEO communities recognize the value of diversity in promoting innovative science and creative solutions, and we strongly encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply. We recognize that each applicant for this role will bring unique skills, knowledge, experiences and background to this position. The Smithsonian Institution is an equal opportunity employer, committed to a policy of nondiscrimination on the basis of race/ethnicity, national origin, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, age, religion, marital/parental/caregiver status and disability.

To apply:
Please send a brief (2-page) research statement, a C.V., and three potential providers of reference letters to Sean McMahon (mcmahons@si.edu) with the subject line “NASA Postdoc.” Please feel free to reach out with any questions to mcmahons@si.edu or loren.albert@mail.wvu.edu.

About SERC & ForestGEO
Headquartered on Chesapeake Bay, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center is just 25 miles from Washington, D.C. Its 2,650-acre campus spans forests, wetlands, marshes and 15 miles of protected shoreline. SERC hosts state-of-the-art research facilities and a vibrant research culture. ForestGEO is a global network of large forest dynamic plots that bring together a diverse array of forest scientists and extensive data with a mission to understand and predict the future of Earth’s forests