The University of Cape Town has an open call for Industry Postdoctoral Fellowship applicants. The industry postdoctoral fellowship is centered around academic-industry collaborations to provide fellows with industry exposure. Natural State, in the role of an industry partner and The Centre for Statistics in Ecology, the Environment and Conservation (SEEC), as the academic partner, are looking for a fellowship applicant to work on evaluating the outcomes of regenerative grazing as a nature-based solution for addressing the biodiversity and carbon crises and improving social wellbeing. The project would involve measuring the impact of a second industry partner, True Range, and working
with additional academic collaborators at UCT and around the world.

This is a pre-application and the successful candidate will be part of an application that the project team will put together for this call. Final awards are at the discretion of the University of Cape Town.

Natural State contact persons:
Head Biometrician – Matt Rogan (

SEEC contact person:
SEEC Director – Prof Res Altwegg (

Location: This role is based at SEEC in the Department of Statistical Sciences, University of Cape Town. Additional time (3-8 months) will be spent at the Natural State field center in Laikipia, Kenya.

Natural State is a not-for-profit organization whose purpose is to catalyze nature restoration and protection at the scale and pace needed to create game-changing impact for nature. At the core of what we do is create rigorous, cost-effective and verifiable measurement of biodiversity, carbon, and human well-being impact for large-scale restoration and conservation efforts and use these to build novel financing mechanisms.

The Centre for Statistics in Ecology, the Environment and Conservation (SEEC) is an inter-departmental grouping based at University of Cape Town. It aims to be the leading group in statistical ecology and environmental analytics within South Africa, to provide a hub connecting statisticians and biological/environmental scientists to ensure that the most important environmental questions are addressed with cutting edge statistical methods, and to develop methods that link data analysis and modelling into the conservation planning and management process.

Position Overview
We are seeking a highly motivated and talented Postdoctoral Researcher to work with our interdisciplinary team focused on measuring restoration outcomes for biodiversity, carbon, and social wellbeing in rangeland systems. This research project will quantify the outcomes and scalability of a regenerative grazing restoration project managed by True Range at Lolldaiga Ranch, Laikipia, Kenya.

The applicant will have the flexibility to choose a primary focus area of carbon or biodiversity in accordance with their expertise and interests. The research will investigate how this primary area of focus is impacted by the implementation of regenerative grazing, as well as how the cattle output of the regenerative grazing feeds into financial upliftment in surrounding communities.

The fellow will develop advanced machine learning tools, aided by Natural State’s existing data pipelines and classifiers, to generate novel insights into changing spatiotemporal patterns in their focal area. These tools would then be embedded in Natural State’s impact portal to facilitate the application of nature-based solutions backed by novel financial mechanisms such as integrated carbon, biodiversity, and human wellbeing credits. Analyses will draw on monitoring datasets from Natural State covering above and belowground carbon stocks and mammal, bird and plant biodiversity, as well as data from True Range on cattle production. These machine learning tools and analyses will form the basis for quantifying the impacts of True Range’s management at Lolldaiga Ranch and projecting the expected impacts if their management approach were expanded to i) the adjacent Borana conservancy and Maiyanat community conservancy, and ii) to other community conservancies within the Laikipia Conservancy Association. This position offers an excellent opportunity to conduct cutting edge research, collaborate with leading experts in the field, and make a meaningful impact on the conservation and productivity of a rangeland ecosystem.

We are looking for a person with a PhD either in ecology with a strong statistical component, in applied statistics with a strong ecological component or in biodiversity informatics with a strong statistical component. Candidates must be able to demonstrate strong quantitative skills, have experience working with large data sets and have experience with hierarchical models. Prior experience with carbon modeling, restoration ecology, financial models, neural-network classifiers, state-space models and modeling spatial data would all be of advantage. This opportunity will best fit a scientist who envisions a career in the private or not-for-profit sector developing cutting edge nature-based solutions in Africa.

The fellowships will be awarded by UCT on a competitive basis. Candidates must fulfil the following
minimum requirements:
• Hold a PhD obtained within the last five years in Statistical Ecology, Statistical Sciences, Computational Science, Environmental & Geographical Science or another relevant discipline.
• Applicants currently completing their doctoral dissertation for submission may apply. They should however have submitted their doctoral thesis for examination by 31 May 2024 for uptake in July 2024.
• The candidate cannot hold another postdoctoral position at another institution other than UCT for the tenure of this programme.

The fellowship will be awarded for up to two years; funding for the second year will be released based on satisfactory progress in the first year. The postdoctoral fellow is expected to spend between three to eight months (as a single period or a period in each year) of their fellowship undertaking research at the facilities of the industry partner and the remainder of the fellowship conducting research resident at UCT.

The funding will include:
• R330 000 per annum as a stipend (non-taxable).
• R50 000 per annum research running costs.
• R50 000 per annum travel costs between academic and industry facilities.

Additional research support will be negotiated with Natural State.

Interested candidates should submit a pre-application email no later than the 10th of April to Matt Rogan ( consisting of a CV (3 pages maximum detailing one’s educational background, conference attendance, research outputs, and any prior industry interactions) and a letter of application describing their interest in the project and aptitude for the work. The letter should also state at least one UCT-based SEEC academic the candidate would like as their academic supervisor and may include a link to a personal webpage or other relevant website documenting the applicant’s professional achievements. Pre-applications will be assessed on a rolling basis and a first round of interviews will take place April 8th – 19th.

Candidates who advance past the initial pre-application phase will be asked to provide the following:
• A cover letter describing the research interest/s of the postdoctoral candidate and their suitability for the fellowship and appropriate experience and a clear motivation on why they should be considered for the industry fellowship and why is it necessary for them to have the chosen industry partner.
• The names of three referees who have taught, supervised or collaborated with the candidate through their undergraduate and postgraduate degrees or during a period of work experience and who can speak to their skills, including their current line anager/supervisor.
• A proposal (3 pages maximum) outlining the research and professional development goals for the fellowship.
• The candidate who is nominated for the full application will work with the Natural State team to develop a comprehensive research proposal and to design a skills development program tailored to the candidate’s interests and professional goals. Full applications to UCT are due May 15th.