A Postdoctoral fellowship (2-year) in Movement and Spatial Ecology for tracking wildlife and land cover change across Laikipia, Kenya, is announced by our partners at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute:

This is a re-posting of a previously advertised position with an altered starting date (March 2018). We are encouraging new applicants to apply for the position. The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) is seeking a Postdoctoral Fellow to advance the Smithsonian’s ongoing research into wildlife movements and land cover / land use change in Kenya. This is a full-time, 2-year appointment. The fellow will be jointly based at SCBI’s campus in Front Royal, VA, and Mpala Research Centre (MRC) in Laikipia, Kenya. The objectives of this fellowship are to:

(1) assess recent trends in land cover and land use change in the region of Laikipia, Kenya, and their impact on the distribution of native wildlife;
(2) investigate wildlife and livestock movements during periods of extreme environmental variation;
(3) expand efforts to map regional land cover and land use; (4) lead workshops that build capacity in data management and spatial analysis; and
(5) work with national agencies and local conservation groups to compile and integrate spatially explicit data across Kenya.

The successful candidate will pursue innovative research questions in the fields of land cover and land use change dynamics, movement ecology, and spatial ecology, in order to develop applied solutions for critical regional issues. Research topics include, but are not limited to, assessing wildlife carrying capacities across grasslands under drought stress, evaluating the impact of fencing on wildlife movement, understanding competition between wildlife and livestock for productive vegetation and water resources, and estimating the effects of overstocking and land use change on grassland vegetation.

The postdoctoral fellow will work with Drs. Peter Leimgruber (SCBI) and Dino Martins (MRC), and will join a growing team of ecologists and conservation biologists at the Conservation Ecology Center at SCBI.


  • Collaborate with US and Kenyan colleagues to develop and conduct research to quantify recent land use and land cover change in Laikipia.
  • Explore the movement ecology of wildlife and livestock in the region, and assess how land use / land cover change, and projected climate change, may affect these movements.
  • Link research activities to regional issues of concern by developing applied tools and solutions that benefit both scientific research and partner groups.
  • Compile remote sensing imagery, wildlife occurrence data, information on livestock density and human impact, and other geospatial data across Kenya.
  • Work across Smithsonian research centers, Kenyan wildlife and scientific agencies, and local conservation groups to advance existing collaborations and develop new partnerships. Lead workshops on collecting, managing, and analyzing geospatial data.
  • Build regional technical capacity by coordinating and teaching workshops (and other educational events) on data management, remote sensing and GIS analysis, and other spatial analysis skills.
  • Participate in scientific meetings, develop scientific papers, and engage with colleagues and collaborators pursuing related research questions.
  • Provide guidance and assistance to technicians, students, fellow postdocs, and others carrying out related work. Preferred qualifications • A Ph.D. in Ecology, Geography, Remote Sensing, Environmental Sciences, or a related academic field.
  • Expertise and experience in remote sensing and GIS, especially multi-temporal analysis of land use and land cover change and management of large databases.
  • Significant analysis skills in R; additional programming experience advantageous (e.g. Java and/or Python).
  • Experience designing, organizing, and managing international field work, and teaching in non-traditional environments.
  • Enthusiasm for collaborating across institutions and countries to jointly pursue research topics relevant to both academic and applied audiences.
  • Willing and able to split time between Laikipia, Kenya and Front Royal, Virginia.


Preferred start date is March 2018. Interested applicants should submit a CV, names and contact information for 3 references, and cover letter to scbi.gis@gmail.com by December 20, 2017. Please include “SI/Mpala Post-Doctoral Fellowship” in subject header. The cover letter should include (i) the applicant’s earliest possible start date; (ii) a summary of the applicant’s research and analysis experience in remote sensing, GIS, mapping land cover change, and R programming; and (iii) 1-3 examples of how the applicant has worked successfully with international collaborators, or how they would plan to do so.

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