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USGS Mendenhall Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Program

17-8. Assessing coastal change hazards with remote sensing

Coastal regions face a multitude of new challenges with population growth, climate change, and sea-level rise.  The landscape and infrastructure on most beaches, wetlands and sea cliffs are expected to have land loss during the 21st century associated with increased sea levels and changing storm conditions (e.g., Vitousek, et al. 2017). As the frequency of these coastal hazards has increased, rapid advances have occurred in remote sensing technologies that can be used to track and better understand our coastal systems and hazards. These remote sensing technologies include both active and passive sensors (e.g., lidar, radar, and optical imagery) that can be deployed on a variety of platforms (e.g., fixed cameras, drones, aircraft, and satellites). The acquisition, processing, analysis, and interpretation of these increasingly large and rich datasets are an active field of research at the USGS (Sherwood et al., 2018).

We seek a Mendenhall Fellow to conduct research focused on the innovative application of remote sensing techniques to make fundamental contributions in the understanding of coastal changes and hazards.  This solicitation for research proposals is broad in nature. We encourage the proposed use of new or developing technologies or the novel application of existing technologies in a science plan focused upon a local, regional or global scale. Topics for the proposals may include (but are not limited to) coastal morphodynamics, long-term change of coastal shorelines, dunes, wetlands or bluffs, interactions between human populations and coastal morphodynamics, or coastal water levels and flooding during storms. A range of approaches may be considered including (but not limited to) sensor development, acquisition of new data, synthesis of large data sets, real-time monitoring, and integration of novel techniques such as machine learning with remotely sensed data.

The two-year Mendenhall Fellowship will allow the researcher to implement a research plan that provides new understanding and tests hypotheses related to coastal systems and hazards. The proposed work may be focused on collaborative efforts with any or all of the three Research Advisors, depending on interests, expertise and resources. Strong candidates are expected to possess demonstrated abilities in developing observations and theory of coastal systems and the use and application of remote sensing technologies and data.

Interested applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the Research Advisors, below, early in the application process to discuss project ideas.


Vitousek, S., P.L. Barnard, and P. Limber, 2017, Can beaches survive climate change? Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, v. 122, n. 4, p. 1060-1067.

Sherwood, C. R., J. A. Warrick, A. D. Hill, A. C. Ritchie, B. D. Andrews, and N. G. Plant, 2018, Rapid, Remote Assessment of Hurricane Matthew Impacts Using Four-Dimensional Structure-from-Motion Photogrammetry, J. Coast. Res., DOI: 10.2112/JCOASTRES-D-18-00016.1.

Proposed Duty Station: Santa Cruz, CA; Woods Hole, MA; St. Petersburg, FL.

Areas of Ph.D.: Earth science, oceanography, ocean or marine science, geography, geology, engineering, or related fields (candidates holding a Ph.D. in other disciplines, but with extensive knowledge and skills relevant to the Research Opportunity may be considered).

Qualifications: Applicants must meet one of the following qualifications: Research Geologist, Research Oceanographer, Research Engineer. (This type of research is performed by those who have backgrounds for the occupations stated above. However, other titles may be applicable depending on the applicant's background, education, and research proposal. The final classification of the position will be made by the Human Resources specialist.)

Research Advisor(s): Jonathan Warrick, (831) 566-7206,; Nathaniel Plant (727) 502-8072,; Chris Sherwood, (508) 457-2269,

Human Resources Office Contact: Leah Lor,, 916-278-9394

Go back to Summary of Opportunities

U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
URL: Warrick.htm
Direct inquiries to Cara A. Campbell at
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Last modified: 11:07:41 Fri 08 Feb 2019
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