Experience/skills: A Ph.D. or master's in a tech field, plus expertise in a particular disease.
Perks: Flexible hours and travel to exotic locales
Who's hiring? Universities, governments, the United Nations, some consultancies
Early in his career, Andy Tatem became so proficient at analyzing fuzzy satellite images of English farms that he could tell wheat crops from turnip fields by studying the way the sun reflected off each.
Interesting stuff if you're a farmer, but not sufficiently inspiring for Tatem. Then came a call last year from Simon Hays, an Oxford University researcher who was developing a global map of malaria that could explain current outbreaks and help predict future ones.
Today Tatem, a 29-year-old Ph.D., is among a new class of researchers using the latest satellite imagery, cheap computing, big databases, and free tools like Google Earth to show how epidemics spread around the globe.
It's a new twist on a very old concept. When cholera and yellow fever spread during the 18th century, "medical geographers" drew maps to show infected areas but had no way of knowing where an epidemic would strike next. Tatem pulls data from NASA satellites to plot a picture of rainfall, temperature, vegetation, and other variables in regions where malaria has struck. He correlates it with infection rates and hospital reports to create a map of the disease and its projected spread.