Geospatial Data Scientist

Chesapeake Conservancy, Annapolis, MD, US. Hybrid remote working available.

Chesapeake Conservancy, a nonprofit organization based in Annapolis, Maryland, is seeking a Geospatial Data Scientist with experience leveraging machine learning and large and complex data sets in the environmental world.

About The Conservancy

Chesapeake Conservancy is a nonprofit organization based in Annapolis, Maryland. We are conservation entrepreneurs. We believe that the Chesapeake is a national treasure that should be accessible for everyone and a place where wildlife can thrive. We use technology to enhance the pace and quality of conservation, and we help build parks, trails, and public access sites. Chesapeake Conservancy works in close partnership with the National Park Service Chesapeake Bay Office, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as other federal, state, and local agencies, private foundations, and corporations to advance conservation.

Within the Conservancy, the Conservation Innovation Center (CIC) was established in 2013 to advance cutting-edge technology to empower data-driven conservation and restoration. Through regional and national partnerships, the CIC makes data analysis and insights accessible for restoration professionals to practice precision conservation, yielding greater impact with fewer resources.

The CIC’s Data Science Team has recognized the potential of machine learning to dramatically improve the analysis of large and complex datasets to improve environmental decision making. We have completed the development of an AI system for prediction of wetlands and have trained an AI model for prediction of ten land-cover classes, both at high spatial resolution (1m). The team is embarking on an ambitious project about biodiversity in the face of climate change; this project will model the fine-scale distribution of species with sophisticated machine learning models.

Position Description

The Geospatial Data Scientist will collaborate with the CIC’s lead Data Scientist, who is an ecologist and machine learning/AI specialist, to work on a number of projects that apply data science, machine learning and AI. The Geospatial Data Scientist will be responsible for the development and management of a variety of pilot projects within the Chesapeake Bay watershed and beyond that demonstrate the role that AI and “big data” can play in environmental decision making. The successful candidate will have a unique opportunity to expand the data science program within the CIC that works to address global challenges while getting to work at the cutting edge of data science and collaborating with other leading organizations.

Reporting to the Vice President of Conservation Technology, the successful candidate for this position will be involved in all aspects of projects from scoping, data evaluation and project execution. This position will take the lead on creating a portfolio of projects leveraging machine learning and will work with the CIC’s team to identify opportunities to improve existing workflows. Experience with environmental issues, including water quality and quantity management, ecosystem and habitat modeling and land management is highly desired.

Essential Functions

  • Create machine learning solutions, including deep-learning based artificial intelligence, for a diverse set of problems.

  • Employ structured approaches to leveraging large data sets to uncover new insights.

  • Work closely with the team within the CIC to incorporate their expertise into new data science solutions that improve workflows and outcomes.

  • Drive acquisition of new data sources as needed with governance on license, terms of use, compliance, quality and high availability.

  • Represent the CIC’s capabilities and product offerings to internal and external audiences, both technical and non-technical, at conferences and meetings.

  • Oversee and collaborate with team members as well as other project managers. Candidates must be able to work within the CIC’s structure to add additional capabilities. This includes working with peers and supervisors in problem solving and providing constructive feedback on ideas and problems. The CIC team is a highly collaborative and innovative group. Ideal candidates will participate in brainstorming and discussions.

  • Obtain, organize and process component datasets. The Geospatial Data Scientist will be working with a variety of spatial data, including satellite and aerial imagery; LiDAR; national, state and local vector data; and ecological models. Organization and attention to detail are key skills in working across projects with high volumes of complex data.

  • Work independently to solve problems and errors. Much of the CIC’s work involves finding unique, customized solutions to partners’ challenges. Errors and unknowns will be encountered. This position will be required to handle a range of technical challenges and to devise solutions based on available resources.

  • Compile deliverables and write grant reports. Project deliverables may include maps, memos, short or long reports, slide decks, datasets or grant reports. Applicants should be able to write concisely and effectively, design impactful products and communicate progress to funders.

Position Details

  • This full-time position will be based in Annapolis, Maryland, with flexible options for remote work. Preference will be given to candidates able to work in person at the Annapolis location one or more days per week.

  • Travel primarily within the United States for conferences and meetings with partners is expected (up to 10% of time). Travel is currently limited due to the pandemic.

  • Salary and benefits are commensurate with the candidate’s relevant professional experience and/or education with an expected salary range between $100,000 and $130,000.

  • The Conservancy offers a competitive employee benefits package that includes health, dental and vision insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, paid vacation and sick leave and participation in a 403(b) retirement savings plan. Opportunities for advancement and professional development are available. This position will not support relocation assistance.

Applications will be reviewed as their materials arrive, with an anticipated start date by January 2022.

We are committed to being a diverse and welcoming workplace.

Chesapeake Conservancy is an equal opportunity employer. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, national origin, color, age, sex, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity, refusal to submit to a genetic test or to make available genetic test results, or any other legally protected characteristic.

Chesapeake Conservancy understands that protecting and restoring the natural and cultural resources of the Chesapeake Bay watershed requires intentional commitment to inclusive practices and narratives within the conservation movement. Through our work we celebrate and elevate the people, places, and cultures of the region, especially by engaging underrepresented communities. Committing to the values of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice is critical to achieve our vision of a Chesapeake that is healthy, accessible to everyone, and a place where people and wildlife thrive. To that end, we commit ourselves to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice both in our programmatic priorities and our internal organizational development through inclusive recruitment of staff and board members, and fostering a diverse and inclusive culture.

Key Qualifications

The Geospatial Data Scientist should be an organized, dependable and goal-driven leader with a passion for the mission of the Chesapeake Conservancy – public access, conservation and education and stewardship of the Bay and its resources. Candidates must be able to challenge conventions, to thrive independently as well as on a team in a relaxed, dynamic office culture and to think creatively. Other essential skills include adaptability, independence in problem solving, strong oral and written communication and an ability to teach others technical material.

Job Requirements

  • Master’s in a quantitative field. Ph.D. preferred.

  • Experience in delivering insights and capabilities through data science, AI or machine learning techniques, including deep learning, computer vision, random forests and other supervised classifiers, clustering, PCA, etc.

  • Proficiency in numerical programming languages Python and R with expertise in packages/libraries routinely used for AI and machine learning such as Tensorflow, Keras, CNTK, Numpy, Rasterio, etc.

  • Experience working in a cloud computing environment such as Azure, Google Cloud Platform or AWS.

  • Research or strong experience in computational aspects of one or more of the following, or highly related, areas preferred: Bayesian modeling, causal inference methods, finite mixture models, generalized linear models, joint modeling, nonlinear mixed models.

  • Comfort manipulating and analyzing complex, high-dimensionality data from varying sources to solve difficult problems or identify solutions.

  • Ability to communicate complex quantitative analysis in a clear, precise and actionable manner.

  • Experience framing and participating in data-driven business decisions, including measuring and evaluating outcomes.

  • Excellent oral and written communication skills.

  • The ability to translate data science to non-technical audiences at all levels.

  • Team player with proven ability to build trusted relationships.

  • Demonstrated ability to work efficiently, prioritize workflow and meet demanding deadlines.