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HAI Postdoctoral Fellowship with Professor Kate Maher, Department of Earth System Science

The postdoctoral fellow would develop tools for tracking the recovery and activity of the North American beaver (Castor canadensis). After being nearly hunted to extinction, followed by decades of sanctioned trapping, beavers are now increasingly recognized as solutions to a number of sustainability challenges – from water storage to fire and flood suppression to biodiversity. However, the massive growth in beaver populations is not without risk. In addition to nuisance flooding and infrastructure damage, beavers alter the hydrology of river corridors in complex ways that may change the water balance (increased evapotranspiration) and impact water quality (increased stream temperatures and metal release). Thus, although beavers are profound ecological engineers, they are not always compatible with human infrastructure. The postdoctoral fellow would address the role of North American beaver as a sustainable ecological solution by adapting approaches from computer vision to (1) recognize the ecological patterns (networks of channels, ponds, lodges, vegetation structure) of beaver activity and (2) distinguish legacy structures from recent activity using patterns of roughness, brightness, continuity and vegetation. If the ecological patterns can be learned, then we can advance to the next stage of evaluating the beaver as a tool for fostering sustainable waterways.

The postdoctoral fellow would join a vibrant research community in the new Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability and the Department of Earth System Science. The postdoctoral fellow will be supervised by Professor Kate Maher. Our research group brings expertise in remote sensing, hydrology/ecology and data science and has strong collaborations with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory. We will work with the postdoctoral fellow to build additional collaborations as needed to support their research and professional development objectives. We use an individual development plan to identify goals and objectives and support these through a range of activities, including weekly individual meetings, access to educational and professional development opportunities, and individually targeted training.

Stanford HAI is also committed to creating a diverse community of scholars who are engaged in contributing to the understanding and advancement of Human-Centered AI. Postdoctoral fellows will have the opportunity to engage with one another and with the broader Stanford HAI research community. They are also expected to participate in professional development, cohort-building, and other programmatic activities organized by HAI.


  • PhD in either computer science or hydrology/ecology/earth system science (or a related field) with computational experience
  • Completion of all doctoral requirements within the last three years and no later than September 1, 2023
  • Expertise in application of data science and machine learning approaches to spatial data sets
  • Knowledge of GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and/or remote sensing applications
  • Passion about the planet and the desire to pursue environmental and/or sustainability challenges
  • Commitment to advancing solutions to sustainability challenges using Human-Centered AI
  • Ability to creatively frame new questions and use state-of-the-art tools to address them
  • Demonstrated experience working on interdisciplinary teams
  • A track record of academic productivity, including successful publications and oral presentations
  • Strong communication skills, including the ability to translate and share information to diverse audiences
  • Completion of all doctoral requirements within the last three years and no later than September 1, 2023

Evaluation Criteria

  • Appropriate technical background and expertise to conduct the proposed research
  • Track record of excellence and productivity in research
  • Demonstrated abilities in leadership, collaboration, communication and related skills necessary to work on an interdisciplinary project and to engage multiple communities in problem definition and solving
  • Long-term motivation to pursue questions at the interface between AI and sustainability
  • Potential to foster new research at the interface between human-centered AI and sustainability


For full consideration, send a complete application in a single PDF to with the subject line: “HAI Postdoc Fellowship - Maher.”

  • Complete applications will include:
  • Cover letter explaining your interest in becoming a postdoc with the respective research lab/center/faculty through the HAI Postdoctoral Fellowship Program (500 words max).
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  • Short answer responses (300 max each):
    • Description of your dissertation research and broader research agenda
    • How do you see your research training and expertise contributing toward the understanding and advancement of Human-Centered AI? HAI thinks about "Human-Centered AI" through three focus areas.
  • One representative writing sample (published or unpublished)

The expected base pay for this position is $80,000/yr. The pay offered to the selected candidate will be determined based on factors including (but not limited to) the qualifications of the selected candidate, budget availability, and internal equity.

Stanford is an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.