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Research Assistantship available in remote sensing of urban expansion

The Land Cover Change Lab at the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE) has funding for one RA or PA position starting November 1, 2014 (with possibility of January start date), and continuing through spring and summer, 2015, to conduct research to monitor urban expansion and agricultural land loss across East-Southeast Asia using multiple remote sensing data sets.

Maps of urban land extent and urban expansion for four urban agglomerations in East-Southeast Asia generated from MODIS 250 m data.

Maps of urban land extent and urban expansion for four urban agglomerations in East-Southeast Asia generated from MODIS satellite data. The method we have developed (Mertes et al. 2014) resolves the spectral and temporal ambiguities between urban/non-urban land and stable/changed areas by: (1) spatially constraining the study extent to known locations of urban land; (2) integrating multi-temporal data from multiple satellite data sources to classify c. 2010 urban extent; and (3) mapping newly built areas (2000-2010) within the 2010 urban land extent using a multi-temporal composite change detection approach based on MODIS 250 m annual maximum enhanced vegetation index (EVI). With newly acquired funding, we hope to automate and extend these methods to the rest of the globe.



* Past experience or training with GIS and remote sensing analysis. Preference will be given to students who have completed remote sensing courses here at UW-Madison.

* Statistical training, familiarity with statistical software such as Matlab is ideal.

* Familiarity with Unix/Linux systems.

* Familiarity with both PC and Mac platforms.

* Programming skills are desirable, but not required.

* Must be a graduate student in good standing. Preference will be given to Nelson Institute, Geography, and Forest & Wildlife Ecology students, but students from all levels, departments, and backgrounds are encouraged to apply. CartGIS Certificate students are eligible for this position, but pay will be hourly rather than salary.


Job duties:

* Analysis of spectral / temporal trajectories of land cover types.

* Supervised classification of land cover types with advanced data mining algorithms.

* Data fusion, synthesis of datasets to common coordinate system, spatial resolution, etc.

* Data download, database management.

* Accuracy assessment.

* Work closely with team of students to complete mapping and accuracy assessment tasks.

* Must be available to work at SAGE at least one day per week.

* 20 hours/week is required, but there is flexibility on days/times.


The overall goal of the project is to monitor land cover change, and work will be completed using a combination of ENVI, ArcGIS, and command line programming tools. The student will focus on analysis of time series MODIS satellite data to understand global trends in urban expansion. Research questions include: (1) What is the utility of coarse resolution data sources for monitoring urban growth across temperate, tropical, and arid biomes? (2) How can remote sensing be merged with alternative data sources and existing maps to create up-to-date and near real time information on urban land and expansion? (3) What role could social media play in monitoring urbanization?

Typically, graduate students in our research programs have undergraduate GPAs above 3.5, and GRE scores in the 80th percentile or higher. Benefits for this position include a monthly stipend (wage depends on position and appointment level, 39-50%), tuition remission, and eligibility to participate in the Graduate Student Health Insurance Program (note that benefits for students paid hourly will vary).


To apply:

Please contact Professor Annemarie Schneider at Please send the following with your email:

(1) a recent CV or resume

(2) a current transcript of classes (unofficial version is fine)

(3) information on availability (start date, hours available per week)

(4) contact information for three references

Applications will be reviewed as soon as they are received, and interviews may start right away. The position will remain open until filled.

Application deadline: Monday, October 27, 2014

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