Postdoctoral Associate: Data Fusion Methodology for Land Use Change and Biofuel Production

Land-use change (LUC) in the form of agricultural expansion is a concern associated with the increasing demand for renewable fuels.  It is a critical topic in the discussion of biofuel sustainability.  Multiple data sources can be used to evaluate LUC and information from these data sources can be combined to obtain a more complete picture of LUC than if one data source is used in isolation.  A newly-funded project from the U.S. Department of Agriculture is investigating techniques to combine information from farmer surveys, remote sensing, and satellite imagery to robustly characterize LUC.  The project PIs are seeking to hire a postdoctoral associate to fully characterize farmer surveys that are conducted by the Department to develop best practices for use of farmer survey data in LUC analyses based on a gap analysis of existing farmer survey data products (e.g., Census of Agriculture, June Area Survey, others).  Some recognized gaps in farmer surveys include limitations on reporting of harvested acres at the exclusion of seeded and unseeded grasslands.  The successful candidate will characterize uncertainty in farmer surveys and pinpoint opportunities to apply remote sensing and aerial images to address gaps in understanding of LUC based on farmer surveys.  Duties will also include identification of opportunities for the reverse situation in which farmer surveys can be used to fill in knowledge gaps and/or aid error classification in remote sensing (as is currently done with the CDL and the June Agriculture Survey Segments) and aerial imagery-based LUC assessments.  These findings will be transparently documented and shared with project stakeholders.  One key step will be to engage with the USDA Farm Research Service to confirm our understanding of various surveys and to learn about plans to adjust survey methodology from the current methodology so that the techniques we propose will account for upcoming changes.  Additional steps will include analyses and data write up for publication in peer reviewed literature.

Successful applicant should have good communication skills, an ability to work in an interdisciplinary team, and have expertise in survey and statistical methods, familiarity with agriculture, and be proficient in geospatial analyses and, ideally, remote sensing.  The project is funded and the PIs are seeking to fill this position as soon as possible.  Applicants must have received their PhD within the last 10 years.  The candidate should be able to join us by early Spring for an anticipated two-year position being appointed annually with a starting salary of $45,000 a year plus benefits.  Illinois is an EEO Employer/Vet/Disabled The University of Illinois conducts criminal background checks on all job candidates upon acceptance of a contingent offer.

While the position is located in the College of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences in Urbana the Postdoctoral associate will be co-supervised by faculty (Jennifer Dunn ( or Aggelos Katsaggelos ( in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department at Northwestern University and interact with Northwestern’s Institute for Sustainable Energy at Northwestern (ISEN) and the Northwestern-Argonne Institute of Science and Engineering (NAISE).

For more information please contact Michelle Wander, or Nicholas Martin (

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