Career Opportunity / 

Research Technician - Unoccupied Aircraft Systems Pilot and Geospatial Analyst

The Marine Robotics and Remote Sensing (MaRRS) Lab at Duke University seeks a highly motivated UAS pilot and geospatial analyst to support the ongoing development of new and existing research and conservation programs, both internally and externally. Specifically, we are seeking an individual eager to support data collection efforts through the use of the lab’s extensive resources, including a wide range of UAS platforms, sensors, and computational power for analytical work. While a large proportion of the lab’s work focuses on marine ecosystems, we welcome applications from those with interests and experience across the full spectrum of environmental sciences.

United States

To apply for this position, use this link: 

This full-time position supports research with Unoccupied Aircraft Systems (UAS) in the Marine Robotics and Remote Sensing Lab at Duke University’s main campus in Durham, NC. Specific duties include leading UAS-based data collection, sometimes in remote locations, as well as supporting the analysis of animal and habitat data collected by UAS, often within collaborative project contexts. Duties also include supporting course-based UAS operations, minor maintenance of UAS platforms, composing technical reports, documenting analytical protocols, and co-authoring scientific manuscripts. The successful applicant will have a bachelor’s degree in environmental science or a related field and demonstrated experience collecting and working with UAS data using geospatial tools typically used for UAS data acquisition and analysis (e.g. eMotion, QGroundControl, Ardupilot/Mission Planner, UgCS, ArcGIS or ArcGIS Pro/Online, Python, Pix4D, and others). The successful applicant will bring experience in science communication/outreach and good organization skills.

WHO WE ARE, OUR GOALS AND VALUES: The MaRRS lab opened its doors in August 2015 as a center to promote interdisciplinary research using unoccupied aircraft systems and other small robotic platforms. During this time, the lab has pioneered research focused on using drones to study a diverse array of species, from blue whales to oysters. This includes studying animal populations, individual organisms, and the habitats that support them. The lab’s team incorporates biological, ecological, engineering, and computational expertise while supporting student work at undergraduate and graduate levels. The MaRRS lab is committed to fostering an inclusive community with a diversity of perspectives that help achieve optimal educational and scientific outcomes while engaging the broadest audience possible. Every member of our lab embraces these core values and shares the responsibility to uphold them. For details please see this website:

The Division of Marine Science and Conservation is home to faculty in both natural and social sciences. Division faculty are at the forefront of generating new knowledge about the science, conservation, restoration, and governance of marine systems and in using this knowledge to inform local, state, national, and international policy. We work towards this through leadership in research, interdisciplinary collaborations, training, communication, and inclusion. We are committed to translating research to and engaging with governments, industry, non-governmental and civil society organizations, and local communities. We value diverse ways of knowing, understanding, and learning. Our excellence can only be fully realized by faculty, staff and students who share our commitment to these values.

TERM: 2 years, with the possibility of extension based on performance and funding.

QUALIFICATIONS: Applicants should hold a bachelor’s degree in biology, ecology, engineering, computer science, or other relevant fields and be accredited as an FAA Part 107 certified remote pilot. Documentation of UAS flight hours (current and total) is essential. Ideal candidates will have experience in high-resolution remote sensing, geospatial data science, and the use of UAS for research in either terrestrial or marine environments. Applicants should have experience in both fixed wing and multi-rotor aircraft systems, ideally with COTS systems such as DJI/senseFly etc and open source systems based on PX4/Cubepilot hardware. A background in RC aircraft and/or home built drone systems and basic electronics experience would be advantageous.

PROJECTED START DATE: The position is available immediately.

WORK LOCATION: Work takes place in Durham, NC and Beaufort, NC., as well as a range of US domestic and international field locations. The primary base of operations will be in Durham, NC.

TO APPLY: Interested individuals should include the following materials:

  • CV/resume
  • Names and email addresses of 3 references
  • A short cover letter describing your background, research experience, and current career goals
  • A one-page statement of research experience and methodological skills
  • Copy of flight log book or description of aircraft systems flown and hours accumulated

Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.

Questions should be emailed to [email protected]

Lab link:

Minimum Qualifications

Work generally requires a bachelor's degree in botany, biology, zoology, psychology or other directly related scientific field.


None required above education/training requirement. OR AN EQUIVALENT COMBINATION OF RELEVANT EDUCATION AND/OR EXPERIENCE

Duke is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer committed to providing employment opportunity without regard to an individual's age, color, disability, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status.

Duke aspires to create a community built on collaboration, innovation, creativity, and belonging. Our collective success depends on the robust exchange of ideas—an exchange that is best when the rich diversity of our perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences flourishes. To achieve this exchange, it is essential that all members of the community feel secure and welcome, that the contributions of all individuals are respected, and that all voices are heard. All members of our community have a responsibility to uphold these values.

Essential Physical Job Functions: Certain jobs at Duke University and Duke University Health System may include essential job functions that require specific physical and/or mental abilities. Additional information and provision for requests for reasonable accommodation will be provided by each hiring department.