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Job advertisement Junior researcher in the fields of big data analysis, machine learning, remote sensing and natural hazards (m/f/x)

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European Geosciences Union

Junior researcher in the fields of big data analysis, machine learning, remote sensing and natural hazards (m/f/x)

Junior researcher in the fields of big data analysis, machine learning, remote sensing and natural hazards (m/f/x)


Royal Museum for Central Africa

The Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA) is a federal multidisciplinary scientific institute (FSI) with a focus on Africa and particularly on Central Africa. With solid expertise in both human and natural sciences, the research and collection associated activities are organized through three departments: Earth Sciences, Cultural Anthropology and History, and Biology. The RMCA has field research activities in more than 20 African countries, and its scientific work is enhanced through the development of collaboration actions with scientific institutions in Africa. The Department of Earth Sciences is made of 3 divisions including the Natural Hazard Service, also called GeoRiskA (

The Natural Hazards Service is an interdisciplinary team that has its research activities in the fields of geology, geomorphology, natural hazard and risk assessment, in the context of environmental changes. Most of its study areas are located in Central Africa. Remote sensing techniques, GIS, and field work are used to support the research, as well as for assisting in thematic mapping. GeoRiskA is also responsible for managing collections of maps and aerial photographs, and ensuring public access to them.

The Natural Hazards Service has been involved in > 20 projects in the area of interest ( during the last 5 years (11 as PI), funded by, a.o., Belgian research foundations (BELSPO, FRS-FNRS, FWO), Belgian space programme (STEREO), Belgian cooperation of development (DGD, ARES, VLIR), BAEF, European Commission (Marie Curie), FNR (Luxembourg national research Found). Many of these projects have been framed around Earth Observation questions/uses/methods.

The Natural Hazard Service contributes to addressing the challenges of disaster risk reduction related to geo-hydrological hazards in changing African environments. To achieve this goal and to sustainably address environmental issues, they are developing intensive collaborations with research institutions in Africa. To this end, the team is actively involved in knowledge transfer, capacity building and long-term actions. Members of the MRAC are present in the area of interest 3 to 4 months per year; ensuring strong interactions with local stakeholders as well as a wide dissemination of the research results.


Tervuren and Brussels, Belgium


Relevant divisions
Earth and Space Science Informatics (ESSI)
Natural Hazards (NH)

Full time

Entry level

salary based on the scales of the Belgian federal government (SW10 scale, indexed annually)

Required education

Application deadline
24 March 2023

17 February 2023

Job description


The Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA) is one of the 10 Federal Scientific Institutions (FSIs) under the supervision of the State Secretary for Federal Science Policy. It is therefore both a scientific institute and a museum.

The RMCA (Natural Hazards Service, called GeoRiskA), in partnership with the Department of Geography (Cartography and GIS Research Group) of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and the Institut Terre & Environnement of the University of Strasbourg (ITES), is hiring a research assistant for a research project aiming at studying the spatio-temporal evolution of natural hazards of geological and geo-hydrological origins (i.e., landslides, flash floods, gully erosion, volcanism, earthquakes) and the related disasters, in tropical Africa, with a priority focus on Rwanda. More specifically, in a first part, the researcher will use web crawling and deep learning techniques to extract information on disasters related to natural hazards out of the press and social medias. In a second part, optical and radar spatial remote sensing techniques will be used to detect the related events, thanks to advanced multi-sensor approaches developed at the RMCA and ITES. Finally, the obtained database will be exploited to understand the spatial and temporal distribution of geohazards and related disasters in tropical Africa. This research will be carried out in the frame of the FED-tWIN’s GUiDANCE and SCO’s GeoHaTACC projects, under the coordination of Prof. Dr. Benoît SMETS (RMCA/VUB) and Dr. Olivier DEWITTE (RMCA), in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Jean-Philippe Malet (ITES, France), Prof. Dr. Frank CANTERS (VUB), Dr. François KERVYN (RMCA) and Prof. Dr. Matthieu KERVYN (VUB).


As a research assistant, your responsibilities will be to:

  • Carry out the scientific research (development of methods, analyses,…), mainly based on methodologies such as web crawling, deep learning, big data analysis and optical/radar remote sensing.
  • Actively collaborate with the research teams of the RMCA, VUB and ITES.
  • Update and expand the RMCA’s regional databases on natural hazards in Central Africa.
  • Synthesize research results in peer-reviewed articles.
  • Present the results to academic, stakeholders and the general public, at meetings, forums, workshops and conferences.


  • You have a MSc in Computer Science, Geomatics or equivalent.
  • You have good programming skills (especially Python).
  • You have experience in big data analysis, machine learning and/or image processing.
  • You have a broad interest in at least one of the following research topics: natural hazards, disasters, geomorphology, environmental change.
  • You enjoy challenges and working on research with societal relevance.
  • You enjoy interacting with other researchers and achieving common goals; you appreciate teamwork, but are also able to work independently.
  • You are proficient in English and have excellent scientific writing and presenting skills.
  • Knowledge of French and/or Dutch is an asset.


  • An initial 6-month contract at RMCA, renewable for 2.5 additional years (at RMCA and/or VUB).
  • If interested, the possibility of carrying out a PhD research.
  • A salary based on the scales of the Belgian federal government (SW10 scale, indexed annually).
  • A pleasant and dynamic working environment.
  • An interesting holiday package.
  • Dynamic and multi-cultural work environments at the RMCA (Tervuren) and the VUB (Brussels).
  • Reimbursement for public transport (2nd class) or compensation for bicycle journeys.

Discover all the information and benefits related to working for the federal government on FedWeb, the web portal for federal employees, More information on the GeoRiskA research team is available on

How to apply

To submit your application, please send by e-mail a single PDF file containing (i) a one-page motivation letter, written in English, stating your general motivation for this research; (ii) your curriculum vitae; (iii) transcripts of your bachelor’s and master’s degrees with the grades; and (iv) the names, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses of at least two referees. The application should be sent to (subject of e-mail: « S/ Hazard evolution ») before March 24th, 2023, 6 pm (CET).

Only applications that correspond to the profile and are sent within the prescribed deadline will be accepted and responded to.

Interviews will take place on 19 April 2023. The selected candidate would ideally start working in June 2023.

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