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Mellon Associate Research Scholar

The Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) seeks applications for a full-time Associate Research Scholar as part of the Andrew Mellon Foundation funded initiative in Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities at the Center for Spatial Research. A Master’s degree in Architecture, Design Research, or a closely related field (e.g., Urban Planning, Computational Design, Geography, Landscape Architecture) is required. Candidates with training in the design disciplines whose research practices involve innovative digital, visual, and multidisciplinary approaches at the intersection of architecture, urbanism, and the humanities are invited to apply. This one-year appointment will begin on July 1, 2021 and is renewable contingent on satisfactory performance and available funding. 

The Center for Spatial Research (CSR) was established in 2015 as a hub for urban research that links design, architecture, urbanism, the humanities, and data science. It sponsors research and curricular activities built around new technologies of mapping, data visualization, data collection, and data analysis. CSR focuses on data literacy as well as working to open up new areas of research and inquiry with advanced design tools to help scholars and students, as well as collaborators and audiences, to understand cities worldwide―past present and future. 

CSR is committed to rigorous and reliable work with data, to harnessing the most powerful techniques of design and visualization, and to critical reflection on the limits and ideologies of both data and its representation. CSR collaborates with researchers and advocates across a variety of disciplines and institutions to communicate information clearly, critically, responsibly, and provocatively. Based in the disciplines of design, architecture and urbanism, CSR makes links with and bring spatial expertise to humanities as well as the sciences. 

The Associate Research Scholar will report to the Director of CSR. Successful candidates must have experience and interest in using GIS-based research practices to open up new questions in, and modes of representation of, urban environments. The incumbent will contribute to projects underway at CSR, work on independent research on a topic(s) proposed by the incumbent and will contribute to the design and teaching of the Center’s workshop and seminar courses. 

The Associate Research Scholar will be an active contributor to projects underway at the Center related to the Center’s current research foci, Conflict Urbanism and Spatial Inequality, or to research topics CSR adopts in the future. This work may involve supervision of graduate research assistants, and may result in outputs that include contributing to co-authored publications, publicizing of collaborative work for popular press and grant reports, design of exhibitions among other formats. Approximately thirty percent of the incumbent’s time will be dedicated to this collaborative research. 

The incumbent will also be invited to propose new avenues of research, publication, or collaboration addressing CSR’s current research foci. The project(s) proposed by the research scholar―to be completed during their time at CSR―should aim to reach multiple disciplines and experiment with methods and modes of presenting academic research using visual media, mapping, and/or data visualization. This work will be published on the Center’s website in a media or platform appropriate to the work, and the incumbent will be encouraged to find further avenues for publication. The Associate Research Scholar will be eligible to receive assistance from graduate student researchers in this work. Forty percent of the incumbent’s time will be dedicated to this proposed research. 

The incumbent will teach one lab-oriented course run by CSR. CSR is dedicated to providing open source tutorials related to critical approaches to mapping and data visualization used in CSR research; the incumbent will contribute to this library of tutorials on topics related to their interests and/or courses they teach. These activities advancing the critical pedagogies of CSR’s academic initiatives will make up approximately thirty percent of the incumbent’s time. 

The candidate must have a background in the design disciplines and be eager and able to work in an interdisciplinary setting with researchers and faculty from diverse spheres such as Architecture and Urbanism, Art History, Anthropology, English, History, and others. Candidates for professional officer of research positions are expected to have established their ability to conduct original, independent research. Associate research scholars’ qualifications and contributions to their fields of research must be equivalent to those of an assistant professor. 

Experience and interest in mapping and data visualization is required. Candidates will have the ability to do collaborative and cross-disciplinary research, the ability to convey specialized knowledge to students and faculty working in the Center, and strong communication skills overall. 

Successful candidates will have robust experience with GIS-based research methods as well as a range of other computational tools for urban research and must be eager to acquire additional skills through their work with CSR. The Center’s projects typically draw on a range of tools including: GIS (ESRI and Open Source); R; Python; Adobe Creative Suite; as well as mapping and visualization libraries such as Leaflet, Processing, D3, APIs, HTML5, CSS, and Javascript. The incumbent is expected to have proficiency in the tools that advance the spatial research methods they use in their specialization area, and should express these in their research statement. A willingness to learn new software and the most up to date tools in addition to a collaborative spirit is a requirement of the job.  Successful candidates will show how their own fields of specialty intersect with or bring new tools and research methods to research in the urban humanities. 

Candidates are expected to have some combination of publication in recognized media, conference presentations, and/or participation in exhibitions. Please visit our online application site at for further information about this position and to submit your application. 

Please submit a letter of application, CV, a statement of current and future research plans, writing samples, samples of work (research/projects), and names and contact information for three references. (References will only be contacted for the finalist pool of candidates). Review of applications will begin April 20, 2021 and continue until the position is filled. 

Columbia University is an Equal Opportunity Employer / Disability / Veteran