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Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences - Biogeography

Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences | Geography Department | Biogeography | News | PhD Position in Remote Sensing of Sub-Tropical Forest Degradation and Land Use

PhD Position in Remote Sensing of Sub-Tropical Forest Degradation and Land Use

New PhD position open on remote sensing and forest degradation in the Chaco! The position is a joint position between the Conservation Biogeography Lab and the group of Prof. Eric Lambin at the Université catholique de Louvain.




The Geography Department at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and the Earth and Life Institute of the Université catholique de Louvain seek highly qualified and motivated candidates for a

PhD Position in Remote Sensing of Sub-Tropical Forest Degradation and Land Use


One PhD position for four years (joint appointment - 2 years at each institution)

Starting date: from 1st February 2017.

Reference number: DR/165/16


The successful applicant will study land use and forest degradation in the Argentinian Chaco using satellite remote sensing and field survey data. The Chaco ecoregion has experienced widespread land-use change with drastic outcomes for biodiversity and ecosystem service provisioning. In this context, the successful candidate will focus on assessing gradual forest changes, for example due to changing grazing pressure or logging, and how forest degradation trends vary among actor groups. To quantify forest degradation and recovery across large areas in the Chaco, and to assess the environmental outcomes of these changes, the applicant will develop and apply time-series methods that make full use of the Landsat archives and upcoming sensors such as Sentinel-2. Moreover, the candidate will use quasi-experimental statistical methods to isolate the effects that different actor groups have on forest degradation. The position will contribute to a larger research project focusing on “Continuous satellite-based indicators for mapping subtropical forest degradation and its environmental impacts (REFORCHA)”, funded by the Belgian Science Policy. The PhD project will closely collaborate with partners at the National University of Tucuman and the Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria (INTA) in Buenos Aires and Salta (all in Argentina).

The applicant will join the Conservation Biogeography Group (Prof. Tobias Kuemmerle) at HU Berlin’s Geograhy Department for the first two years, and the Earth and Life Institute (Prof. Eric Lambin) at Université catholique de Louvain for the second two years - while closely collaborating with both groups through the full PhD lifetime. Both groups focus on land-use change in order to gain deeper insights into the drivers, patterns and outcomes of these changes, and to identify opportunities to mitigate conflicts between land use and conservation. Our groups work in collaboration with researchers and science institutions worldwide, and are active contributors to science networks such as the Future Earth Global Land Project. The working language of the groups is English. The candidate will be jointly supervised Prof. Eric Lambin (U. Louvain) and Prof. Kuemmerle (HU Berlin).

We seek a highly motivated candidate with an MSc (or equivalent degree) in Geography, Environmental Sciences, Forestry, Ecology, or related fields. We expect experience and a strong interest in land system science, forest ecology, and/or sustainability science. Required methodological skills include remote sensing, geographic information systems, and spatial statistics. Experience in scripting languages (e.g., Python) and in R, as well as in forestry biometry methods is a plus. Spanish language skills are highly welcome. We also expect excellent command of the English language, good communication skills, and willingness to work in international research teams.

We offer a position in international, young and dynamic teams with an excellent scientific record. Payment will be according to the local standards (and costs of living) with a monthly net salary of about 1,300-1,500 EUR for the first two years (Berlin), and a monthly net salary of about 2,100 EUR for year three and four (Louvain). Funding for participation in scientific conferences and relevant workshops is available. Researchers from abroad are welcome to apply. HU Berlin and Université catholique de Louvain are family-friendly universities. We seek to increase the proportion of women in research and teaching, and specifically encourage qualified female scientists/researchers to apply. Applicants with disabilities with equivalent qualifications will be given preferential consideration. Non-German and non-Belgian Citizens are encouraged to apply.

Please refer to https://www.personalabteilung.hu-berlin.de/stellenausschreibungen for the legally binding German version of the job announcement.

Applicants should include (1) a letter of motivation, (2) a full CV, (3) a writing example (e.g., a publication, a chapter of a thesis), and (4) contact details for two references. Please send the application electronically in a single PDF file to Mrs. Tatjana Ferl (tatjana.ferl@hu-berlin.de) with Mrs. Dagmar Wörister (dagmar.woerister@geo.hu-berlin.de) in CC. Please include the reference number in the content line of your email.

Application deadline: 2 December 2016

For further information please contact Prof. Eric Lambin (eric.lambin@uclouvain.be) or Prof. Tobias Kuemmerle (tobias.kuemmerle@geo.hu-berlin.de).