Principal Research Support Specialist/ Postdoctoral Associate
University of Florida Gulf Coast Elevation Mapping and Height Modernization
Location: Gainesville, Florida
Start Date: to commence as soon as an acceptable candidate is available
This full-time position is funded through a five-year NOAA-NGS grant as part of a consortium of five Universities and Agencies in the Gulf of Mexico region. The project involves collecting and analyzing Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS)-captured lidar and multispectral data in coastal areas, developing open-source methods to store and disseminate lidar data, developing methods to estimate and improve the accuracy of laser scanner data, developing methods to characterize coastal formation changes, and facilitating outreach, education, and training associated with NSRS 2022 through hosting workshops and other events. The position is located in Gainesville, FL; however, travel will be required to support data acquisition activities and stakeholder meetings. The selected candidate will be employed to carry out advanced independent and/or directed research as well as management and stakeholder-communication activities to achieve the objectives of the project.
Duties assigned to this position will require an in-depth knowledge of Geomatics or a closely-related field and will involve organizing and implementing research plans, the development of methods for research, testing and data collection, analysis and evaluation, writing reports, and organizing project teams and stakeholder meetings. The duties will require the exercise of independent responsibility and judgment in carrying out various activities within the predetermined project scope.
Projected Effort Breakdown:
- 60% Practical Research: plan missions, collect and analyze data, conduct experiments in the field of Geomatics, assist in manuscript and grant writing
- 25% Meeting Organization, Outreach: including with project collaborators and stakeholders
- 10% Lab Maintenance: including equipment maintenance, and ordering of supplies as needed.
- 5% Other Duties as Assigned: including attending scientific conferences and meetings.
A PhD or equivalent in the field of Geomatics/Geospatial Sciences is highly desirable. However, those without a PhD, but with substantial experience in related work may be considered. Field work experience is required; this position requires significant field work in and around wetland areas. The candidate should have a Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate, or have the proven ability to obtain one. The candidate must have the ability to effectively engage and work well in diverse groups. Similarly, written and oral communication skills are essential to the position.
Florida’s coasts are arguably the state’s most valuable resources, critical to the environmental and economic health of the state. High-resolution mapping of elevations along the coast support wide-ranging applications in areas such as ecological management, regulatory decision-making, risk assessment, emergency response, disaster assessment, and the general development of resilient coastal communities. In the urbanized Gulf Coast areas of Florida, lidar elevation data are made available through the associated state Water Management Districts thanks to the relatively high funding for those locations. However, many of the rural areas, such as those along the “Nature Coast” region of Florida’s Gulf Coast lack the funding to acquire these valuable data. Those data that are collected along the Gulf Coast are available to researchers and the general public, but methods for dissemination are lacking due to budgeting decisions, a main reason the potential user base is not widely aware of their existence.
Lidar is an extensively used 3D elevation collection method, and its applications are numerous and growing. Many uses of lidar data require some measure of data accuracy, including feature mensuration, data adjustment, and fusion with other datasets. While accuracy estimates are achievable using independently observed ground-coordinate checkpoints, this is often difficult or impossible due to the nature of the area scanned, and many times accuracy analysis is not done due to time or budgetary constraints. Lidar researchers have begun investigating “total propagation of uncertainty” to attach estimated accuracy values to lidar points. This method uses uncertainty data from along the collection and processing pipeline to generate variances for the resulting point coordinates. These variances are carried forward with the data and inform subsequent adjustments and fusion with other data. Lidar on UAS presents an excellent opportunity in this research area since, although it has potential to fill an important niche due to its low cost and rapid deployment, little has been done to investigate its accuracy and these systems enable easy access to the required metadata for uncertainty estimation.
Geodetic and remote sensing data are basic assets in realizing the NGS mission of improving our spatial reference and understanding our vulnerable coastal areas, but only if best-practice data collection and quality control procedures are followed. Florida, like other Gulf Coast states have many active projects led by private and public sector stakeholders. These groups collect geodetic control and remote sensing data that can be useful to NGS objectives if the correct data collection practices are followed, and if resources to collect and disseminate the data are available. For these reasons, stakeholder engagement is essential to the success of NSRS modernization efforts.
The position is available 1 Jan. 2019, and will be filled as soon thereafter an acceptable applicant is available. Compensation is commensurate with the education, experience, and qualifications of the selected applicant.
Interested applicant should contact Dr. Ben Wilkinson. Please include a CV, and relevant academic transcripts.
Dr. Ben Wilkinson
Assistant Professor, Geomatics Program
School of Forest Resources & Conservation
University of Florida