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Postdoc (f_m_x) Researcher in Data Science and Forest Disturbance Monitoring

Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Closing date
3 Sep 2024

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Job Type
Employment - Hours
Full time

Job Details

Area of research:

Scientific / postdoctoral posts

Job description:

The Helmholtz Centre Potsdam - GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences is the national centre for research into the geosphere. With around 1,650 employees, we develop a sound understanding of systems and processes of the solid Earth as well as strategies and options for action to counter global change, understand natural hazards and sustainably secure energy and raw material requirements.

Are you an innovative researcher eager to advance global monitoring and Earth observation applications? Do you have experience with large Earth observation datasets and integrating them with reference data? Are you enthusiastic about using AI to develop novel Earth observation tools and products? If so, we want you on our team!For section 1.4 Remote Sensing and Geoinformatics  (department 1 "Geodesy"), we are looking for a: Reference Number 9522

This position is part of a project focused on detecting and evaluating forest disturbances using advanced Machine Learning (ML) techniques integrated with physics-based models. You will develop Data Analysis Workflows (DAWs) for monitoring forest disturbances and assessing risks during extreme climate conditions. You will work closely with computer scientists from TU Berlin and remote sensing scientists from HU Berlin to integrate and optimize these workflows, ensuring robust and efficient data processing and analysis.

Within this position your research will focus on developing and optimizing DAWs using high-resolution Earth Observation data (Sentinel 1 and 2, GEDI), creating hybrid models combining ML and physics-based approaches for efficient forest monitoring and forest mortality risks, collaborating with various working groups (remote sensing, data science, climate analysis) within the Research Center for Geosciences (GFZ) and leveraging extensive expertise and projects within the section to foster an innovative research environment.

Your responsibilities:

  • Development and optimize DAWs for forest disturbance detection and risk assessment
  • Integration and analysing data from multiple sources (Sentinel satellites, GEDI)
  • Applicate and refine ML techniques (CNNs, RNNs, transformers)
  • Evaluation of model performance and ensuring DAW scalability and efficiency
  • Conduction of independent and collaborative research in remote sensing and data science
  • Designing and performance of experiments, data analysis, and result interpretation
  • Preparation of manuscripts for peer-reviewed journals
  • Presentation of your research findings at conferences and seminars
  • Mentoring of graduate and undergraduate students

Your qualifications:

  • Master`s degree (or equivalent) and a Ph.D. (or nearly completed) with a track record in remote sensing, large-area processing, and analysis (including cloud computing, ground/satellite data integration), or a related field
  • Vision for how data science and AI can contribute to research
  • Experience in large area Earth Observations, cloud computing, time series methods, AI, data science, and uncertainty analysis
  • Open mind for collaborative research and connecting different fields
  • International scientific profile with the ability to interact with professionals and societal partners

Start date: As soon as possible
Fixed-term: 4 years
Salary: The position is classed as salary group 13 according to “TVöD Bund (Tarifgebiet Ost)”. The salary group is determined on the basis of the Collective Wage Agreement and the respective personal qualifications.
Working hours: Full-time (currently 39 h/week); The position is generally suitable for part-time work.
Place of work: Potsdam What we offer:

  • Ambitious and varied tasks in a dynamic and international research environment
  • State-of-the-art equipment
  • Public service benefits
  • Extensive training opportunities
  • Professional career advice offered by our in-house Career-Centre
  • Flexible working hours and conditions
  • Support with finding a good work-life balance offered by benefit@work
  • Institute day-care centre on site 
  • Working at the Albert Einstein science park on the Telegrafenberg in Potsdam 
  • Work place within walking distance of Potsdam main train station, or just a short ride on the shuttle bus

Have we piqued your interest?If so, we look forward to receiving your application by 31st July 2024. Please use our online application form only.

Diversity and equal opportunities are integral components of our human resources policy. The GFZ actively promotes diversity and explicitly welcomes applications from all qualified individuals, regardless of ethnic and social origin, nationality, gender, sexual orientation and identity, religion/belief, age and physical characteristics. Anyone who has been recognized as severely disabled, will be given preferential consideration in the event of equal suitability and qualification in accordance with the provisions of the German Social Code IX. If you have any questions, please contact our representative for the severely disabled at sbv[at], who will be happy to assist you in the further application process. In case of further queries regarding gender equality, please do not hesitate to contact our Equal Opportunities Officer at gba[at]

Your personal data will be processed for the purpose of conducting the selection procedure on the basis of Art. 6 para. 1 b, Art. 88 GDPR in conjunction with Art. 26 of the Data Protection Act for the State of Brandenburg. After completion of the procedure, application documents will be deleted in compliance with data protection regulations.

In case of any further queries relating to the field of activity, please contact Martin Herold via email at If you have any general questions about the application process, please contact our recruiting team at our phone number +49 (0) 331-6264-28787.

This research center is part of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers. With more than 42,000 employees and an annual budget of over € 5 billion, the Helmholtz Association is Germany's largest scientific organisation.


The Helmholtz Association contributes to solving major challenges to assure the future of our society. With more than 39,000 people on staff in 18 national research centres, the Helmholtz Association is Germany’s largest scientific organization. The name Helmholtz stands for concerted research in which networks form the key principle behind inquiring thought and action. Concerted research is efficient and flexible.

The profile of the Helmholtz Association

The Helmholtz Association performs cutting-edge research which contributes substantially to solving the grand challenges of science, society and industry. To succeed in meeting these responsibilities, Helmholtz concentrates its work in six research fields: Energy, Earth and Environment, Health, Key Technologies, Matter, as well as Aeronautics, Space and Transport. Within each of these fields, research programs are developed by our scientists and regularly evaluated by renowned international experts. Their evaluation forms the basis for the programme-oriented funding that is allocated to Helmholtz research. Within the six research fields, Helmholtz scientists cooperate with each other and with external partners – working across disciplinary, organizational and national borders.

Promoting young academics

Helmholtz scientists, a high-performance infrastructure and modern and efficient research management are the ingredients to the Helmholtz Association‘s success and global impact.
Promoting young researchers is a major priority for the Helmholtz Association. Its qualification schemes for young researchers are geared mainly towards PhD students, postdocs and young managers. The Helmholtz Association has set high standards for its talent management. Its strategy begins with targeted recruitment of highly qualified staff at all levels, followed by comprehensive support aimed at further developing their potential. Ensuring equal opportunities is an essential element in all talent management activities undertaken by the Helmholtz Association.

The Helmholtz Graduate Schools and Research Schools at almost all Helmholtz Centres provide doctoral students with the general and specific skills and training they need, as well as ample opportunity to network with other working groups. The period following a doctorate is decisive in determining the direction and success of a scientific career. For this reason, we are about to establish Career Centers for postdoctoral researchers in the Helmholtz centres and a mentoring programme for especially gifted PostDocs in order to foster career orientation. This equips young researchers with the skills they need to go on to head a Helmholtz Young Investigators Group, for example. As a Young Investigator Group leader, junior scientists can independently set up their own group to conduct research in their specialist field.

Within its talent management strategy, the Helmholtz Association pays special attention to the increased recruitment of talented female scientists both from Germany and abroad. To this end, there are currently two funding programs supporting this policy Funding of first-time appointments of excellent women scientists (W2/W3)’ and ‘Funding to recruit top-level international women scientists (W3)’.

The increasing complexity of the content, structures and framework conditions of scientific work today requires researchers to organise their projects, their employees and, of course, themselves in a highly professional and effective way. In response to these demands, we have set up the Helmholtz Management Academy to provide junior leaders in science with professional management training. Furthermore, the Helmholtz network provides a platform for the alumni of the Helmholtz Management Academy and Mentoring programme to come together and share their experiences of leadership, career development and lifelong learning.

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