Opening for Drone Ecology Research Intern in Panama

There is an opening at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) for an intern to collect high-resolution aerial photos with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).  Responsibilities will include assembly of UAVs, maintenance and repair of UAVs, weekly operation of UAVs to collect images, processing of collected images, collection of auxiliary field data (e.g., linking tagged trees with crowns visible on images), data analysis, and contribution to scientific publications.  Data collection will be focused in the Agua Salud experiment and the Barro Colorado Nature Monument (especially the 50 ha forest dynamics plot on Barro Colorado Island and long-term experimental plots on Gigante peninsula).  The successful candidate will work with postdoctoral fellow Jonathan Dandois and staff scientist Helene Muller-Landau , as well as collaborators Jefferson Hall, S. Joseph Wright, Stephanie Bohlman, and more.  The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute is located in Panama, and is home to a vibrant scientific community of 30 staff scientists, over 100 graduate and postdoctoral fellows, and over 500 scientific visitors per year.   

The ideal candidate has a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, experience with UAVs or demonstrated possession of relevant mechanical and electronics skills, interest in and some basic knowledge of forest ecology, past experience in field research or some other outdoorsy job or pastime, willingness to spend considerable time in the field, experience with GIS and remote sensing software, experience with using GPS for field work, basic programming skills in at least one common language (e.g., Python, R, Matlab, C++), good English communication skills, at least basic Spanish communication skills, a driver’s license, and ability to drive a vehicle with manual transmission.  The start date is September 1, 2014. 

This position will be compensated with a modest stipend sufficient to cover living expenses in Panama (minimum $800/month; negotiable), as well as roundtrip travel to Panama if relevant.  Initial appointment is for one year (minimum commitment of 9 months is required), and is renewable contingent on satisfactory performance and availability of funds.  

To apply, please email a cover letter describing your qualifications and interest in the position, CV, and contact information for 3 references to Helene Muller-Landau at  Review of applications will commence on April 15, 2014, and continue until the position is filled. 

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