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Hiring! Postdoctoral Research Associate in Global Synthesis of Large-Scale Land Acquisitions

In collaboration with colleagues of mine at the University of Maryland, we are starting an exciting interdisciplinary project with global impact! And we’re hiring!

Postdoctoral Research Associate in Global Synthesis of Large-Scale Land Acquisitions

Large industrial soybean fields in midst of Cerradao forest (Source:

Application deadline: November 17, 2017.

Start date: June 1, 2018.

Applications are invited for a 2-year position as a Postdoctoral Research Associate as part of a newly NASA-funded interdisciplinary project titled “The Global Land Rush: A Socio-Environmental Synthesis”. This project will conduct an integrated global synthesis of large-scale land acquisitions (LSLAs), a growing phenomenon in the global South as governments and transnational investors seek to secure access to land in developing countries to produce food, bio-fuels, and non-agricultural commodities. Consequences of LSLAs vary widely across the globe, ranging from land improvement and creation of new livelihood opportunities to land degradation and dispossession of land from local inhabitants. Distant connections between land systems are not new, but rising evidence indicates that such cross-scaled telecoupled socio-economic and environmental interactions as a result of LSLAs have grown stronger, with more rapid feedbacks.

Primary responsibilities will include: 1) acquisition, management, and analysis of LSLA locations and associated socio-economic, political, and biophysical data; 2) integration of spatio-temporal statistical analyses with remote sensing time series; and 3) synthesis of a large number of local case studies to infer common causes and consequences of LSLAs globally. The postdoc will work directly with Dr. Nicholas Magliocca (co-I) in the Department of Geography at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, but will also regularly work with Dr. Ariane de Bremond (PI) and Dr. Evan Ellicott (co-I) in the Department of Geographical Sciences at the University of Maryland, College Park.

The successful applicant will generate publications, build competencies in advanced geospatial and synthesis methods, gain experience in grant writing, and have the opportunity to mentor undergraduate students. Opportunities will be available to visit and collaborate with partners at the Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern, Switzerland, as well as to visit one or more field sites associated with “Land Observatories” in Madagascar, Tanzania, Peru, Laos, or Cambodia. Professional development activities, such as attending professional meetings and skill-building workshops, will be encouraged and fully funded.

Qualifications: Candidates must have a PhD in one or more disciplines associated with Land System Science (e.g., geography, natural resource economics, sociology, political ecology). Proficiency with the management and analysis of geospatial data in geographical information systems (e.g., ArcGIS, QGIS, etc.) and experience with acquiring, managing, and harmonizing heterogeneous data types are required. Preferred candidates will also have experience with geospatial analysis and modeling (e.g., spatial regression, survival analysis), synthesis methods (e.g., meta-analysis, archetype analysis, qualitative comparative analysis (QCA)), and/or familiarity with remote sensing data and time series analysis.

Application Details: This position is based in the Department of Geography at the University of Alabama located in Tuscaloosa, AL. Salary will be commensurate with experience and includes benefits. This is a full-time, 12-month, fixed-term position with a start date of January 15, 2018, but that is flexible. Review of applications will begin July 1, 2017 and will continue until the position is filled. Apply online through the UA Department of Geography ‘postdoc pool’ using the following link:
Please direct questions about this position to Dr. Nicholas Magliocca (


Let’s talk about … synthesis!

Check out the marvelous work of SESYNC’s communications officer, Melissa Andreychek, in this new post to SESYNC’s blog about some of the synthesis and modeling work my colleagues and I have been doing. Thanks Melissa!

Second Round RFP: Data-Intensive Analysis and/or Modeling for Socio-Environmental Synthesis

After a successful inaugural call for proposals, the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) invites applications for the second round of data-intensive analysis and/or modeling projects for socio-environmental synthesis. Projects employing agent-based modeling approaches are particularly encouraged to apply. Please see the message below for details.

Data-Intensive Analysis and/or Modeling for Socio-Environmental Synthesis

The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) invites proposals for data-intensive analysis and/or modeling projects that advance socio-environmental synthesis research. This funding opportunity covers two types of projects:

  • The pursuit of novel, question-driven, and synthetic research into linkages between social and environmental system dynamics that would not be otherwise possible without the use of computationally-intensive data analysis and/or modeling; or
  • The development of advanced data analysis and/or modeling tools that enable cutting-edge socio-environmental synthesis research.

Successful candidates will lead strongly data- and/or modeling-driven research efforts that synthesize understanding at the interface of the social and environmental sciences. Competitive proposals will: 1) bring together social and environmental data in novel ways to address critical socio-environmental research questions that are also actionable, or 2) attempt to advance modeling and/or analytical techniques beyond current applications which may be limited to a single scale of analysis, type of data, and/or disciplinary lenses.

Support Details

SESYNC has significant modeling, data analysis, and database management expertise to guide and support teams that need assistance with the technical aspects of data mining, processing, integration, analysis, visualization, and/or modeling. In addition to providing support for meetings and travel to SESYNC, we may cover the costs of the PI’s salary while in residence at SESYNC and/or salary for a research assistant at the PI’s home institution and/or at SESYNC. A research assistant position could be filled by a graduate research assistant, postdoc, programmer, or database technician depending upon the technical skills required. SESYNC also has standing openings for 2-year Computational Postdoctoral positions that could be associated with a team project if the postdoctoral applicant also has a separate (independent) project they propose through that Computational Postdoc program.

Funded projects will gain access to SESYNC’s advanced cyberinfrastructure, including use of and support for scalable cluster computing and substantial storage capacity (10’s of terabytes per project). Funded projects also receive support for meetings at SESYNC in Annapolis, MD, including travel and group facilitation.

More Information

Visit for complete details.

Applications must be submitted by August 4, 2014.

Decision-Making in Earth System Models

Recognizing that humans are major drivers of global environmental change, a workshop was convened to explore the challenges and possibilities of integrating human decision-making into regional and global Earth system models. An article describing our findings has just been published and open for discussion in Earth System Dynamics.

Join the interactive discussion! Post comments and receive replies from the authors.

Towards decision-based global land use models for improved understanding of the Earth system

M. D. A. Rounsevell, A. Arneth, P. Alexander, D. G. Brown, N. de Noblet-Ducoudré, E. Ellis, J. Finnigan, K. Galvin, N. Grigg, I. Harman, J. Lennox, N. Magliocca, D. Parker, B. C. O’Neill, P. H. Verburg, and O. Young

A primary goal of Earth system modelling is to improve understanding of the interactions and feedbacks between human decision making and biophysical processes. The nexus of land use and land cover change (LULCC) and the climate system is an important example. LULCC contributes to global and regional climate change, while climate affects the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems and LULCC. However, at present, LULCC is poorly represented in Global Circulation Models (GCMs). LULCC models that are explicit about human behaviour and decision making processes have been developed at local to regional scales, but the principles of these approaches have not yet been applied to the global scale level in ways that deal adequately with both direct and indirect feedbacks from the climate system. In this article, we explore current knowledge about LULCC modelling and the interactions between LULCC, GCMs and Dynamic Global Vegetation Models (DGVMs). In doing so, we propose new ways forward for improving LULCC representations in Earth System Models. We conclude that LULCC models need to better conceptualise the alternatives for up-scaling from the local to global. This involves better representation of human agency, including processes such as learning, adaptation and agent evolution, formalising the role and emergence of governance structures, institutional arrangements and policy as endogenous processes and better theorising about the role of tele-connections and connectivity across global networks. Our analysis underlines the importance of observational data in global scale assessments and the need for coordination in synthesising and assimilating available data.

Extended Deadline for Abstract Submission to GLP OSM 2014


Land transformations: between global challenges and local realities

March 19 – 21, 2014

Berlin, Germany

CALL FOR ABSTRACTS – Extended deadline: 31 July 2013

The 2014 Global Land Project Open Science Meeting program will be a combination of plenary sessions involving international figureheads and experts in the field, followed by parallel sessions covering a wide range of topics within the broad themes of the conference. In addition, poster sessions will take place during lunchtimes and early evenings.

We invite you to submit abstracts for presentations and posters for this leading global conference in Land Science. Your contribution should reference one of the conference sessions. The list of sessions is available on: In case you do not identify any appropriate session, you may submit to the ‘open session’ that will be structured by the scientific committee.

Abstracts are welcomed in three different formats:

Oral Presentation:

12 minutes + 3 minutes for Q&A

Under conference session category Research Presentation Session

Flash Talk Presentation:

5 minutes based on 3 slides

Under session categories Round-table Discussion Session and Open Session

Poster exhibition

Under conference session category Research Presentation Session

Please note that we can only accommodate one oral presentation (plus one flash talk) per attendant. The number of poster presentations is not limited.

More information about the Conference Sessions and Abstract Submissions go to the conference website:

Online registration for the conference will open in July 2013.

ABM and GLOBE Project Sessions at the Global Land Project’s 2014 Open Science Meeting

GLP_OSM2014The Global Land Project will hold its second Open Science Meeting (OSM) in Berlin from March 19-21, 2014. This will be a unique opportunity to hear about cutting-edge land and global environmental change research. A list of sessions was recently released here – check it out and see if anything peaks your interest. In particular, I will be co-chairing three sessions related to ABMs, synthesis, and/or GLOBE:

1. Research Session 0126: “Bridging local to global land change studies with the GLOBE online tool” (co-chaired with Erle Ellis)

2. World Cafe Workshop 0075: “From meta-analysis to modeling: understanding local land change globally” (co-chaired with Jasper van Vliet)

3. Short Training Session 0125: “The GLOBE project: evolving new global workflows for land change science” (co-chaired with Erle Ellis and the GLOBE Team)

I attended the first OSM in 2010 (wow, that long ago?!) held at Arizona State University, and it was a great meeting. Session content was exceptional and the meeting was not too big. I highly recommend getting to Berlin next year if you can!

About the Agent-Based Virutal Labs (ABVLs) blog

Welcome to the Agent-Based Virtual Labs blog!Landscape_fig

This blog will cover issues relating broadly to the social, economic, and cultural interactions that are  changing the planet’s surface and climate. In particular, these issues will be explored with posts relating to agent-based modeling (ABM), and how ABMs can be used as virtual laboratories to ask questions about peoples’ motivations for observed behaviors that would be impossible to ask any other way. Along the way, topics informing the creation, use, and testing of ABMs will be included, as well as my areas of application of ABVLs such as land-use change, livelihoods in developing countries, and sustainability.

This blog will also be a hub of information for those interested in ABMs or my subject areas of interest. Following the navigation menu will lead you to collections of links for learning and teaching resources, other ABVLs-relevant blogs, and my research topics. Also, at regular intervals, posts will appear that contain an annotated list of links dedicated to topics ‘trending’ in the ABVLs world.

I hope you enjoy and please drop me a line!