Postdoctoral Researcher in spatial tools for biological conservation


Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew


Thursday, May 27, 2021

Start Date

Monday, June 14, 2021

This project will build upon the approach described in a recent pre-print by the main collaborators on this project, which combines machine learning techniques (neural networks and reinforcement learning) with simulations ( The postdoctoral project’s goal is to further test and refine the analytical platform developed, moving from simulated to real-world data obtained from already available or novel field-collected sources; while successfully increasing the complexity of the platform in its representation of the economic, social and biological parameters of real systems. The project may concentrate on methods development, empirical applications, or a combination of these – depending on the candidate’s skills and interests, and where the potential for scientific or environmental impact is deemed highest.   

Building on and complementing RBG Kew’s extensive experience in the area of species conservation assessments, this exciting new role will further develop and/or apply a computational platform within the field of systematic conservation planning, for the input and analysis of data to inform policies that maximise positive biodiversity outcomes. The objective of the platform is to help policymakers and landowners to make the most effective decisions about which areas should be prioritised for protection or other conservation actions, such as restoration, or increased efficiency in already protected areas. Given the complexity of the task, the methodology uses the power of Artificial Intelligence and is able to integrate data gathered using novel monitoring technologies, such as remote sensing, environmental DNA and citizen science observations using mobile apps. The platform optimises decisions under a limited budget, considering factors such as land price, complementarity, and shape and size of protected areas. It also directly incorporates the impact of humans and climate change over time on species.

The successful candidate will be an active member of a high-profile, multi-disciplinary team led by the Director of Science, and working in the Conservation Assessment and Analysis team, which forms part of the Ecosystem Stewardship Scientific Priority. There will also be strong international collaboration. While much of the work can be done remotely and virtually, international travel may be necessary for fieldwork, conferences etc.

The postholder will be immersed in Kew’s collections and multidisciplinary research environment and will be supported to conduct original research, publish in high profile journals, present their results at relevant meetings, and communicate their research to a broad audience base, from specialists to the general public.

With a PhD in a relevant specialist subject, the ideal candidate will have a strong track record of scientific analysis and publication. They will have experience of independently managing a discrete research project or project area, and in compiling, handling and analysing large datasets. They will need excellent verbal and written communication skills, including the ability to adapt these to diverse audiences ranging from the general public to the specialist research community.   

Candidates will also need the ability to explore and apply new methods and opportunities as appropriate in discussion with colleagues. With excellent time management and prioritisation skills, they will work independently but as part of a dynamic collaborative team at Kew and external network of researchers. Previous postdoctoral research experience in a relevant specialist field would be advantageous.

The salary will be £32,000 - £37,865 per annum (pro rata), depending on skills and experience.

Our fantastic benefits package includes opportunities for continuous learning, a generous annual leave entitlement, flexible working to help you maintain a healthy work-life balance, an Employee Assistance Programme and other wellbeing support such as cycle to work scheme and discounted gym membership. We also offer a competitive pension, an employee discount scheme and free entry into a wide range of national museums and galleries, as well access to our own beautiful gardens at Kew and Wakehurst.