GIS & Remote Sensing | Illinois State Water Survey Prairie Research Institute University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Posted on Sep 1, 2022

The Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) is seeking to hire for GIS & Remote Sensing (Official title: Scientific Specialist, Geospatial Science) to provide technical support for two federally funded mapping data programs; staff routinely work in close collaboration.  For the Illinois State Water Survey, process and maintain Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data for the Coordinated Hazard Assessment and Mapping Program (CHAMP) with a focus on preparing digital Flood Insurance Rate Map (DFIRM) databases.  For the Illinois State Geological Survey, implement prescribed activities to process, maintain, and provide access to Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) point cloud data, derivative elevation data in vector and raster formats, and metadata for the Illinois Height Modernization Program (ILHMP).

ISWS is part of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which is centrally located between Chicago, St. Louis, and Indianapolis. Our research and service programs provide citizens, industries, and government agencies at all levels with timely, science-based information and analyses necessary to manage our water resources wisely for economic development and a sustainable environment.   Learn more at

The University of Illinois is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action employer that recruits and hires qualified candidates without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, national origin, disability or veteran status. For more information, visit

Major Duties and Responsibilities:

·        Prepare digital Flood Insurance Rate Map (DFIRM) databases

·        Assist with floodplain modeling, mapping, and outreach for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Risk Mapping, Assessment, and Planning (Risk MAP) grants and other projects as assigned.

·        Coordinate with GIS staff, engineers, and other CHAMP staff to apply GIS and engineering related software to produce deliverables and meet project deadlines. 

·        Produce, prepare, and manage hydrologic and hydraulic model data derived from spatial datasets.

·        Process LiDAR point cloud data to create vector and raster LiDAR data derivatives such as Digital Elevation Models (DEMs), cartographic contours, and custom topographic base map components.

·        Conduct detailed quality assurance and quality control assessments of LiDAR data, related GIS data deliverables and metadata to ensure compliance with federal 3D Education Program (3DEP) data standards.

·        Draft data quality assurance assessment reports, metadata, and other related documentation to ensure deliverables are compliant with federal specifications.

·        Prepare LiDAR data collections, derivative elevation data layers and documentation for archival and on-line access via the Illinois Geospatial Data Clearinghouse.

·        Collaborate to write proposals, conduct research and geospatial analyses, prepare reports, and communicate results to stakeholders.

·        Assist with production of community engagement meeting materials and collection of feedback.

·        Assist with data display and technical content presentation on project websites.

·        Assist in providing technical information to state and local agencies.

·        Participate in team meetings and meetings with agency staff, local officials, and consulting engineers.

·        Participate in outreach and service events; give presentations at meetings and professional conferences.

·        Professional Development activities such as attending conferences, workshops and webinars.

·        Attain Certification as Floodplain Manager when eligible (CFM). 

·        Attain the Geographic Information Systems Professional certification when eligible (GISP)

·        Travel, including overnight(s), to attend professional conferences and meetings.

·        Continue education to develop/enhance skills related to project task, process, and management.

·        Continue education to develop/enhance leadership skills to further career progression.

·        Perform other duties as needed to further the mission and goals of the Survey, PRI, and the University of Illinois.

·        Keep abreast of developments in the fields of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Remote Sensing technologies, and federal data specifications.


Education:  BA/BS in GIS, Urban Planning, Geography, Geology or related field.  Alternate degree fields will be considered depending on the nature and depth of the experience as it relates to this position.

Experience: 2 to 5 years of professional experience working in the geospatial technology industry. Experience with latest version of Esri’s ArcGIS software.  Experience processing LiDAR data and raster data in a GIS environment.

Valid Driver’s License

Knowledge requirements: Intermediate to advanced proficiency using ArcGIS products, including ArcGIS Desktop and ArcGIS Pro.  Experience using ArcGIS Online, Web-mapping tools, and Storymaps.  Possess working knowledge in writing and executing database queries using SQL.  Possess working knowledge of ModelBuilder and/or Python.  Strong background producing map products.  Possess working knowledge of the principles and practices of GIS analysis and the methods and techniques of designing and maintaining GIS databases.  Possess working knowledge of Microsoft products (including, but not limited to, Teams, Word, Excel, and Outlook).  Possess a working knowledge of how to create raster data from LAS files.  Familiarity with MARS Explorer QC Module and GeoCue LP360 software.  Familiarity with and working knowledge of USGS LiDAR data base specifications and geospatial metadata standards.  Be able to review large amounts of data to discover and systematically document errors. Experience drafting written reports.  Strong data management skills.

Knowledge of HEC-RAS, RAS Mapper, GeoRAS, and ArcHydro tools.  Familiarity with FEMA Standards, Guidance, and Technical References for development of Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) geospatial databases and Flood Risk Products (FRP). 

Personal and professional interest in natural resources and the application of geospatial technologies to further scientific research.

Strong ability to work effectively in a team structure and complete tasks in a timely fashion under minimal supervision. Effective communication, personal relations, collaboration, organizational, teamwork, and leadership skills.  Demonstrated ability to perform effectively in a diverse and fast-paced work environment consisting of multiple and changing priorities with stringent deadlines.  Attention to detail, sound judgment, and strong conflict resolution skills. 

Preferred Qualifications:  MA/MS in GIS, Urban Planning, Geography, Geology or related field.  A minimum of five years professional work experience in the geospatial technology industry. Experience preparing Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) products, Flood Insurance Study (FIS) reports, FIRM databases, and Flood Risk Products (FRP).  Proficiency processing LiDAR data, derivative elevation data in raster and vector formats, digital orthoimagery, metadata, and data quality control and quality assurance reviews.  Certification as Floodplain Manager (CFM), Certification as Geographic Information Systems Professional (GISP)

Environmental Demands:The work of this position takes place primarily in an office setting. The work is sedentary and involves remaining in a stationary position for extended periods working at a computer, using a keyboard and mouse, and using repetitive hand motions. Travel is required to attend meetings, workshops, conferences, and conduct site visits.


United States

How to apply

This is a regular full-time academic professional appointment, renewable annually based upon satisfactory progress in the position and continued funding. The starting date is negotiable and salary is commensurate with experience and skills.


Please complete your candidate profile at and upload a cover letter, CV/resume, and the contact information for three professional references must be received by September 11th 2022.  Interviews may be conducted before the closing date; however, no hiring decision will be made until after that date.  All requested information must be submitted for your application to be considered. 

For further information regarding application procedures, you may contact Jon Freiman at or 217-244-2687. 


University of Illinois faculty, staff and students are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. If you are not able to receive the vaccine for medical or religious reasons, you may seek approval for an exemption in accordance with applicable University processes.


The University of Illinois conducts criminal background checks on all job candidates upon acceptance of a contingent offer. As a qualifying federal contractor, the University of Illinois System uses E-Verify to verify employment eligibility. The University of Illinois System requires candidates selected for hire to disclose any documented finding of sexual misconduct or sexual harassment and to authorize inquiries to current and former employers regarding findings of sexual misconduct or sexual harassment. For more information, visit Policy on Consideration of Sexual Misconduct in Prior Employment.


The University of Illinois System is an equal opportunity employer, including but not limited to disability and/or veteran status, and complies with all applicable state and federal employment mandates. Please visit Required Employment Notices and Posters to view our non-discrimination statement and find additional information about required background checks, sexual harassment/misconduct disclosures, COVID-19 vaccination requirement, and employment eligibility review through E-Verify.

Applicants with disabilities are encouraged to apply and may request a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (2008) to complete the application and/or interview process. Requests may be submitted through the reasonable accommodations portal, or by contacting the Accessibility & Accommodations Division of the Office for Access and Equity at 217-333-0885, or by emailing

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