Postdoctoral Research Fellow (“Hidden Depths: The environmental and social impacts of river sand mining”)

University of Birmingham
Birmingham, United Kingdom
Position Type: 
Postdoc
Organization Type: 
University/Academia/Research/Think tank
Experience Level: 
Not Specified
Degree Required: 
Doctorate

EXPIRED

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We seek a researcher with expertise in analysing remote sensing imagery to work full time over 2 years on a newly funded Leverhulme Trust project “Hidden Depths: The environmental and social impacts of river sand mining”.

After water and air, sand is the most heavily used natural resource. Yet while issues of air pollution, floods and drought are widely studied, there is a hidden crisis with respect to the unfettered global extraction of sand from rivers. Global urban expansion is driving a massive increase in unregulated mining; sand is crucial to construction. Industrial scales of sand extraction are now endangering rivers and the services they provide (e.g. starving downstream deltas of crucial sediment needed to offset rising sea levels). We are about to commence an exciting programme of work that will use high resolution satellite imagery to quantify how and where sand is being extracted from the world’s large rivers. This data will be used to inform a series of numerical models to assess which rivers are most at risk from sand mining. Finally, we will integrate this scientific knowledge with a qualitative ethnographic study to understand key governance issues that contribute to sand mining, and to assess the overall possibilities for mining sand more sustainably.

Overall, this project will be led by three academics across the disciplines of river science (Greg Sambrook Smith, Birmingham), numerical modelling (Andrew Nicholas, Exeter) and resource governance (Julian Clark, Birmingham). We will be appointing three researchers to join this team over the course of the project and this post relates to the first of these with a specific focus on using remote sensing imagery to identify the nature and scale of sand mining activity in large rivers.

Summary of Role

Work within the Leverhulme funded sand mining project to contribute to overall project objectives as detailed in the grant proposal document.
Take a leading role in those aspects of the project which relate to using remote sensing imagery of river systems.
Analyse and interpret research findings and results and prepare metadata/data for other research staff working on complementary aspects of the project.
Prepare manuscripts for submission to leading academic journals based on the research undertaken.
Contribute to activities to further the public understanding of the project.

Main Duties / Responsibilities

Work within the Leverhulme funded sand mining project to contribute to overall project objectives
Take a leading role in those aspects of the project which relate to using remote sensing imagery of river systems
Analyse and interpret research findings and results and prepare metadata/data for other research staff working on complementary aspects of the project
Prepare manuscripts for submission to leading academic journals based on the research undertake
Disseminate research findings for publication, research seminars etc.
As appropriate, supervise students on research related work 
Contribute to developing new models, techniques and methods 
Undertake management/administration arising from the research
As appropriate, contribute to School research-related activities and research-related administration
Contribute to public engagement activities related to the project
Collect research data, primarily through remote sense imagery and  research literature reviews
Present research outputs, including taking a lead in drafting academic publications and conference presentations
Provide guidance, as required, to support staff and any students who may be assisting with the research 
Deal with problems that may affect the achievement of research objectives and deadlines

Person Specification

First degree in Geography, Environmental Science or related discipline and a PhD that demonstrates relevant experience using remote sensing imagery, preferably within a river or earth surface process context
High level analytical capability of remote sensing imagery
Ability to communicate complex information clearly
Fluency in relevant models, techniques or methods and ability to contribute to developing new ones
Ability to assess resource requirements and use resources effectively
Understanding of and ability to contribute to broader management/administration processes
Contribute to the planning and organising of the research programme and/or specific research project
Co-ordinate own work with others to avoid conflict or duplication of effort

For further information please contact Greg Sambrook Smith,