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Postdoctoral Data Scientist Biodiversity Monitoring

Faculty of Science – Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics

Vacancy details of Postdoctoral Data Scientist Biodiversity Monitoring
Publication date 15 June 2021
Closing date 8 August 2021
Level of education PhD
Hours 38 hours per week
Salary indication €2,790 to €4,402 gross per month
Vacancy number 21-490

Biodiversity is a topic more important than ever before. With biodiversity loss impacting our planet, well-being and economy, we need to find innovative solutions with the use of data and technology. Within the NIEBA-ARISE programme we are looking for data science experts to make a difference. Are you interested in the integration of data derived from different types of sensors aimed at biodiversity monitoring? Then we may be looking for you.

Data & Technology: The sensors include (semi-)automated sampling and monitoring devices such as wildlife and insect cameras and eco-acoustic devices that allow the identification of species through machine-learning tools based on image and sound recognition. Additionally, radar will be used to monitor aerial biomass flows (e.g. movements of insects, bats and birds) and environmental sensors (such as weather stations) will record temperature, wind (speed & direction), light, humidity and precipitation. The integration of such data from multiple sensors requires to align and calibrate data formats from different sensors and to aggregate data at appropriate resolutions for subsequent ecological analyses.

The position is part of NIEBA ARISE (Netherlands Infrastructure for Ecosystem and Biodiversity Analysis: Authoritative and Rapid Identification System for Essential biodiversity information), a programme funded by NWO under the National Roadmap for Large-Scale Research Infrastructure and aimed at establishing a unique end-to-end infrastructure for the interpretation of evidence of the occurrence of species from digital sensors and eDNA. The aim of ARISE is to innovate and build services to facilitate rapid species identification based on various input sources such as specimens, environmental DNA, sound recordings, photographic images and radar information. This will be achieved by exploiting recent advances in DNA sequencing technologies (e.g. establishing high-throughput DNA sequencing pipelines) and machine-learning (e.g. species identification through image and sound recognition). The services to be built within ARISE will make species recognition and biodiversity monitoring accessible for both researchers, industry, policy and citizens. Having such knowledge readily available will drive the future of biodiversity and our planet.

The position is based at the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED) of the University of Amsterdam (UvA). Next to this you will spend part of your time (e.g. one day per week) at the Data Science Centre (DSC) of the UvA.

The DSC mission is to enhance the university’s research and education by developing, sharing and applying data science methods and technologies. As a coordinating hub within the UvA Library, the centre is uniquely positioned to facilitate knowledge exchange as well as the training of skills related to digital and data-driven research and thus contributes to the innovation, diffusion and cross pollination of data science across the university.

As a member of the DSC you'll will engage with data scientists, engineers, and researchers from across the university in a unique network. Knowledge exchange would include typical data science aspects such as data integration, data mining, machine learning and big data handling and visualization.

What are you going to do

You will focus on:

  • integration of species information from multiple sensors, including cameras, sound devices and radar, and environmental information (e.g. from weather stations, phenocams, soil sensors, surface water sensors or remote sensing).

This will include:

  • sensor data calibration and data format alignment (e.g. time stamp information);
  • linking biodiversity data (e.g. species observations derived from cameras, sound and radar) to environmental data (e.g. temperature, wind, light, humidity and precipitation) and remote sensing;
  • integrating bioacoustics data with camera trap images;
  • coupling of radar information with camera trap and sound data;
  • connecting digital sensor information (images and sound) with traditional field monitoring methods (e.g. malaise and pitfall traps, transect counts)

What do we require

  • PhD in a relevant field (e.g. ecology, data-intensive biodiversity science, data science).
  • Strong interest in ecology, biodiversity and data integration.
  • Experience with sensor data analytics and with engineering of data pipelines.
  • Demonstrable expertise in integration of data from different types of sensors and sources.
  • Capability of working in interdisciplinary teams.
  • Fluency in English and preferably Dutch (or willing to learn).
  • Proficiency in the programming languages R and Python.
  • Proven track record in scientific publications.

Our offer

A temporary contract for 38 hours a week, for the duration of one year. Upon a positive evaluation of your performance your employment will be extended to a total duration of 42 months.

The salary, depending on relevant experience before the beginning of the employment contract, will be between €2,790 and €4,402 gross per month. This is exclusive 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities is applicable.

Are you curious about our extensive package of secondary employment benefits like our excellent opportunities for study and development? Take a look here.

About us

The Faculty of Science has a student body of around 7,000, as well as 1,600 members of staff working in education, research or support services. Researchers and students at the Faculty of Science are fascinated by every aspect of how the world works, be it elementary particles, the birth of the universe or the functioning of the brain.

The Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED) is one of eight research institutes of the Faculty of Science at the University of Amsterdam. The research at IBED aims to unravel how ecosystems function in all their complexity, and how they change due to natural processes and human activities. At its core lies an integrated systems approach to study biodiversity, ecosystems and the environment. IBED adopts this systems approach to ecosystems, addressing abiotic (soil and water quality) and biotic factors (ecology and evolution of plants, animals, and microorganisms), and the interplay between those. The IBED vision includes research encompassing experimental and theoretical approaches at a wide variety of temporal and spatial scales, i.e. from molecules and microorganisms to patterns and processes occurring at the global scale. The position is embedded in the Department Theoretical and Computational Ecology (TCE) of IBED which focuses on understanding the complexity of ecological systems by using theoretical and advanced computational approaches. A key research focus is to address how organisms cope with changing environmental conditions and how nature and life is distributed across our planet. Within the NWO-funded project NIEBA ARISE (Netherlands Infrastructure for Ecosystem and Biodiversity Analysis: Authoritative and Rapid Identification System for Essential biodiversity information), IBED is responsible for setting-up monitoring demonstration sites at which multiple sensors (cameras, acoustic sensors, radar) and eDNA sampling will be established to demonstrate the (semi-)automated identification of Dutch species and the monitoring of their occurrence and abundance across space and time.


Do you have questions about this vacancy? Please contact:

  • Dr. Daniel Kissling, Associate professor and Project Leader for IBED of NIEBA ARISE
    T. + 31 (0)20 525 8423

Job application

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritize diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

Do you recognize yourself in the job profile? Then we look forward to receiving your application by 8 August 2021. You can apply online by using the link below. 

Applications in .pdf should include:

  • a motivation letter;
  • a CV, including a list of publications.

Please mention the months (not just years) in your CV when referring to your education and work experience.

We will invite potential candidates for interviews soon after the closing date.

no agencies please