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PhD opportunity: Spatial ecology of coastal habitats using drone and satellite remote sensing (University of Virginia)
Posted on October 17th, 2018

​Subject: PhD position: Spatial ecology of coastal habitats using drone and satellite remote sensing (Univ. of Virginia)
PhD opportunity: Spatial ecology of coastal habitats using drone and satellite remote sensing (University of Virginia)
The Castorani Lab at the University of Virginia is recruiting one PhD student to study the spatial ecology and dynamics of coastal habitats using
drone- and satellite-based remote sensing data, such as optical and multispectral imagery. The student will be advised by professor Max Castorani (, and join UVA's highly interdisciplinary Department of Environmental Sciences
( and collaborative Virginia Coast Reserve Long-Term Ecological Research program (
Field studies will focus on seagrass meadows, oyster reefs, salt marshes, and dune vegetation within the coastal lagoon-barrier island system of Virginia's Eastern Shore.
Possibilities also exist for research on estuaries and kelp forests in California. The student will have opportunities to contribute to highly collaborative long-term studies in the Virginia Coast Reserve and Santa Barbara Coastal ( LTER programs. Although research in the Castorani Lab is primarily motivated by fundamental ecological questions, there are opportunities for applied research related to coastal habitat restoration (seagrass, kelp, oysters) and commercial aquaculture (oysters,
clams) with partners at The Nature Conservancy and the National Park Service.
At the time of enrollment, highly-qualified applicants will have an undergraduate or master's degree in biology, ecology, environmental science, geography, computer science, or a related field. Ideal candidates will have FAA Remote Pilot Certification ("Part 107" license); experience flying small unmanned aircraft; strong quantitative skills; experience with the collection, processing, and analysis of remotely-sensed data; and knowledge of geospatial analyses using R, Matlab, Python, or ArcGIS. Ability to work well as part of a research team is a necessity.
UVA has a highly interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Environmental Sciences (, offering training and conducting research in ecology, geosciences, hydrology, and atmospheric sciences. Graduate students accepted into the program are typically supported through a mixture of teaching assistantships and research assistantships that provide a competitive stipend, tuition, and health insurance.
Those interested should send the following items, as a single PDF, to Dr.
Max Castorani
( (1) a brief description of their background, career goals, motivations for pursuing a graduate degree, research ideas, and why they are specifically interested in joining the Castorani Lab; (2) a CV with academic and professional experience (including GPA); (3) contact information for 2-3 references; and
(4) a writing sample.
The application deadline is January 15, 2019 for enrollment in Fall 2019, however serious applicants should express their interest as soon as possible.

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