Research Assistant – TAPAS (Geospatial Analysis of Agricultural Systems) Plant & AgriBioscience job with NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF IRELAND, GALWAY

Applications are invited from suitably qualified candidates for a full-time, fixed-term position as a Research Assistant at the Plant & AgriBiosciences Research Centre, Ryan Institute at the National University of Ireland, Galway.

This position is funded by the SFI Challenge TAPAS and is available from the earliest possible start date of May 2022 until the contract end date of September 19, 2023.

Job description:

The Research Assistant will be a member of the project team for the SFI Challenge-funded TAPAS project, which is developing systems for tracking adaptation progress in agriculture and food security using a platform. form of satellite-based remote sensing (TAPAS) powered by AI. The TAPAS project focuses on the challenge of enabling countries to develop evidence-based ways to measure, report and verify adaptation to climate change in the agrifood sector. The TAPAS team is developing an AI-based approach that enables the agri-food sector to assess and measure climate adaptation. TAPAS technology will be scalable for global scale implementation to enable the measurement of adaptation in agricultural systems at multiple scales. The research assistant will work closely with Professor Charles Spillane and Dr Aaron Golden who lead the project, in collaboration with Dr Andy Jarvis and collaborators from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT).


  • Work with the TAPAS research team on the global TAPAS mission to develop an AI-enabled satellite-based remote sensing system to track progress of adaptation in agriculture (TAPAS).
  • Investigate concepts of resilience and adaptation that can be translated into practical benefits for farmers and rural communities.
  • Identify how to measure concepts of resilience and adaptation that can be translated into practical benefits for farmers and rural communities.
  • Determine which parameters relevant for farmer-level and landscape-level decision-making can be derived from remote sensing satellite data.
  • Investigate alternative models for TAPAS delivery (with and without AI) as counterfactuals to assess the added value of AI.
  • Develop a draft Composite Climate Adaptation Index (CAI) that can be deployed at field, farm, landscape and national level.
  • Develop multi-author TAPAS research paper manuscripts and TAPAS research communication materials.
  • Work with the TAPAS team on the development of TAPAS as a social enterprise.
  • Be actively engaged in communication/research with project collaborators.
  • Work closely with the students assigned to the project and assist in the day-to-day supervision of their research activities.
  • Retain appropriate records as instructed and in accordance with funder/university policy
  • Contribute to the work of the College/School/Research Unit, through activities such as open days for students and tutorials for undergraduate and postgraduate students.
  • Work closely with other members of Professor Spillane’s research team on an ongoing basis to support the effective operation of the project by providing ongoing contributions to the technical program, including assisting in the preparation of grant reports and monitoring research and innovation as a funding lever.

The Research Assistant will be supervised by Prof. Spillane and Dr. Aaron Golden, as well as the Principal Investigators from Prof. Spillane’s team, where the Research Assistant will be expected to participate in lab meetings and weekly presentations.

Qualifications/skills required:

The required kit:

  • MSc in Climate Change, Geospatial Analysis or equivalent research experience, with demonstrated research and technical expertise in geospatial data and analysis.
  • Understanding of the types of impacts of climate change on agricultural systems and measurement systems.
  • Knowledge of GIS and remote sensing data integration approaches.
  • Evidence of research activity (publications, conference presentations, awards) and future scientific output (working papers, research proposals, etc.)
  • Excellent project management, analytical, report writing and data analysis skills
  • Excellent communication skills (oral, written, presentation)

Desirable requirements

  • Experience with geospatial and remote sensing analytical techniques applied to research challenges in vegetation mapping, agricultural systems, or land use mapping.
  • Previous experience working with satellite remote sensing, particularly the use of NDVI datasets.
  • Experience in projects and programs to build adaptation and resilience for agricultural systems, including smallholders in developing countries.
  • Highly motivated and organized approach.
  • Ability to self-organize workflows and research activities.
  • Evidence of teamwork and collaboration with relevant partners.

Work permit restrictions apply to this job category

Salary: 27,380 36,786 per year on a pro rata basis for shorter and/or part-time contracts (the rules of the public sector wage policy relating to new entrants will apply).

Start date: The position is available from the earliest possible start date May 2022

Further information on research and work at NUI Galway can be found at Research at NUI Galway Researchers at NUI Galway are encouraged to take advantage of a range of training and development opportunities designed to support their career development plans personal. NUI Galway provides continuing professional development supports to all scholars looking to build their own career path within or beyond academia. Scholars are encouraged to engage with our Scholars Development Center (RDC) as soon as they start work – see for more information.

For more information on moving to Ireland, please see

Further information on the Ryan Institute can be found at

Informal inquiries regarding the position can be directed to Professor Charles Spillane [email protected]

To apply:

Applications including a cover letter, CV and contact details for three referees should be emailed (in Word or PDF format only) to Professor Charles Spillane [email protected]

Please indicate the reference number NUIG RES 106-22 in the subject line of the email application (only applications with this in the subject line will be considered).

The deadline for receipt of applications is 5:00 p.m. on Thursday 19and May 2022

Due to the University closure related to COVID-19, interviews may need to take place virtually and start dates may need to be delayed

NUI Galway reserves the right to re-announce or extend the closing date of this message.

All positions are recruited in accordance with open, transparent, merit-based (OTM) and competency-based recruitment

National University of Ireland, Galway is an equal opportunity employer.

Lana T. Arthur