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Geospatial Scientist

The Global Research Institute is currently seeking a Geospatial Scientist to support and improve AidData’s ongoing efforts to design and implement cutting-edge international development research with geospatial data, methods, and tools. The successful candidate will have at least 3-5 years of research experience, with particular expertise in geospatial information systems (GIS) and remote sensing in developing country contexts. Experience working with high-performance computing environments and machine learning applications is strongly preferred. Experience engaging with policymakers, practitioners, and/or information technology specialists from the global development community is also preferred. Depending on qualifications, the successful applicant may hold an affiliate appointment as research faculty in an appropriate department and/or interdisciplinary program at William & Mary.

This position is located at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. This is a full-time position, and salary is commensurate with experience in the U14 range (see Salary Structure for University Employees). Applications for this position close after 11:59 PM on August 30, 2019.


Responsibilities will include, but not necessarily be limited to the following:

  • Designing and undertaking innovative, policy-oriented research on subnational aid distribution and impact, including research that supports existing AidData projects and programs and self- directed research
  • Collaborating with a multidisciplinary team of AidData faculty and staff on geospatial impact evaluations, with primary responsibilities for remote sensing measurement and geospatial data management, potentially including machine learning approaches for data production
  • Overseeing collection of geographic data (geo-referencing) for international development activities, including technical leadership and management staff and research assistants
  • Leading the expansion and ongoing development of AidData’s GeoQuery tool and backend infrastructure, with support from AidData and WM staff.
  • Publishing articles, working papers, policy briefs, blogs and short commentaries that target the policy community, and engaging in AidData policy outreach activities and speaking engagements
  • Working with AidData’s leadership team to seek funding and prepare grant proposals
  • Supervising and providing mentorship to AidData staff and student research assistants

Required Qualifications

  • An advanced degree in geography, GIS, statistics, or a related field
  • Expertise in remote sensing, particularly satellite-based imagery and associated data products (such as those from the Landsat and Sentinel programs and private providers such as DigitalGlobe and Planet).
  • 3-5 years of relevant experience working for or with an academic institution, a bilateral or multilateral aid agency, non-governmental organization, or think tank
  • Demonstrated proficiency and interest in ArcGIS (or QGIS or similar GIS tools), R Studio (or Stata or similar statistical programs), and Python (or similar languages)
  • Experience working in a high-performance computing environment (cluster- and/or cloud-based)
  • Ability to work collaboratively with social scientists, computer engineers, and program staff
  • Strong commitment and understanding of AidData’s mission and goals
  • Ability to work independently and collaboratively to support AidData projects, programs, or initiatives
  • Demonstrated capacity to deliver high-quality policy-relevant publications and products within tight deadlines and budgets;
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and leadership qualities;
  • Ability to collaborate effectively with inter-disciplinary teams, governments, multilateral institutions, and donors
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills in English, including the ability to present complex issues to non-specialist audiences.

Preferred Qualifications

  • A doctoral degree in geography, GIS, statistics, or a related field
  • A track record of publishing rigorous, peer-reviewed social science research in a reproducible manner (i.e. making data and statistical code publicly available to enable independent, third party replication)
  • Experience working with georeferenced development investment and outcome data
  • Familiarity with and interest in machine learning and network analysis
  • Ability to integrate sample surveys involving human interviews, administrative data, and/or social media-based data with the aforementioned remotely sensed data to address real-world problems
  • Demonstrated experience managing and mentoring data analysts

Application Instructions

For more details and to apply, please visit the position listing at the William & Mary Employment Opportunities portal. There, click Apply for this Job to apply with your resume/curriculum vitae and cover letter. Please also provide, under the "Applicant Documents - Writing Sample" section, a journal article or working paper that demonstrates your expertise in the use of satellite-based imagery and associated data products (such as those from the Landsat and Sentinel programs and private providers such as DigitalGlobe and Planet). Applications for this position close after 11:59 PM on August 30, 2019.

Equal Employment Opportunity Statement

The College of William & Mary values diversity and invites applications from underrepresented groups who will enrich the research, teaching and service missions of the university. The College is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer and encourages applications from women, minorities, protected veterans, and individuals with disabilities.