Opportunity Type:

Department of Geography, University of California, Los Angeles

Application window

Open date: April 15, 2023
Review date: May 26, 2023

Position description

We are seeking a postdoctoral researcher to join a project that is developing new approaches for high resolution mapping and monitoring of kelp forests across the State of California. This project is supported by the California Ocean Protection Council. We will be using 3m resolution PlanetScope satellite imagery to create seasonal maps of kelp canopy across the entire State of California from 2016-2023. We are exploring deep learning classification approaches such as artificial neural networks to automate the classification process. This dataset will be used to examine trends in kelp abundance across the State and assess the response of kelp forests to climate change and extreme events such as marine heatwaves. We will also use the data to prioritize and monitor kelp restoration projects.


The responsibilities of the postdoctoral scholar will be to:

  • Lead the development of the high-resolution satellite-based maps of kelp canopy for the State of California
  • Develop and disseminate project products, including scientific journal articles and public-facing products
  • Assist with project management, including advising undergraduate and graduate students
  • Engage with agency project partners

The position is for 1 year with potential for renewal for a second-year dependent on performance. Anticipated annual salary ranges from $60,000 to $70,000 depending on experience.


Basic/minimum qualifications:

  • A PhD in a field related to the project (e.g., Geography, Marine Science, Environmental Science, Computer Science, etc.)
  • Demonstrated quantitative or computational skills, particularly with satellite imagery analysis
  • Ability to work independently and lead the development and publication of research results
  • Strong writing & communication skills

Preferred qualifications:

  • Experience with deep learning classification methods such as artificial neural networks
  • Experience managing large datasets
  • Research experience in kelp forests or other coastal ecosystems
  • Experience in project management
  • Mentorship experience, such as mentorship of undergraduate researchers

Application requirements

To apply please submit the following:

  • Cover letter, maximum of 2 pages, that includes:
  • Your research accomplishments
  • Relevant training, skills, experience
  • Why you are interested in the position
  • Your future career interests
  • Your anticipated start date
  • CV
  • Contact information for 3 references
  • A writing sample, such as a published or draft manuscript

Please send all materials by email to kcavanaugh@geog.ucla.edu with the subject line

“Kelp remote sensing postdoc application”


Kyle Cavanaugh
Associate Professor
Department of Geography
University of California, Los Angeles