Photos from 2017 field season are up!

2017 field season was a big success, with Michelle, Katrina, Allison, Malin, Gerry, Apollo, and Rodney. Check out some photos here.

Surfacing after a dive to a rainstorm.
Showing off our new oceanographic drifters in the hostel lobby.

Welcome, Dan!

Dan Forrest has joined us as a technician helping run eco-evolutionary models for coral reefs around the world. He just spent a year in Equatorial Guinea running a field station, and so has lots of good stories to tell!

Field season in the Philippines

It is May, and we have a larger-than-usual team this year headed to Visayas State University in the Philippines to continue our research on metapopulation dynamics in coral reef fish. Michelle is leading the tagging and sample collection, Katrina is trying new oceanographic measurement sand field experiments, Allison is getting her first introduction to the system in preparation for modeling efforts, and Malin is helping out all around and catching fish (thanks to training from Tony Nahacky last year). We also have the indispensable help of local assistants Gerry Sucano and Rodney Silvano, plus Apollo Lizano (visiting student from U. Philippines Marine Science Institute). It’s great to be in the water again!

Hiring a data science technician for coral reef research!

Data Science Technician

The Pinsky Lab in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources is searching for an organized, enthusiastic, and skilled individual to work as a data science technician on a three-year project modeling the future of coral reefs and the potential for evolutionary rescue. The project is in collaboration with the Coral Reef Alliance, Dr. Daniel Schindler at the University of Washington, and other collaborators. The project is funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

The technician will assist the PI, a postdoc, and our collaborators by identifying, assembling, and synthesizing existing, region-specific data on coral reefs and their oceanography, ecological communities, population dynamics, evolutionary parameters, and climate in the Pacific and Caribbean. These data will contribute to regional and/or global models of coral adaptation and the potential for conservation over the coming centuries across realistically complex landscapes. Important questions to be studied include the relative role of ecological vs. evolutionary change in rapid coral adaptation, the interaction between oceanography and evolutionary processes, and the potential for conservation actions to facilitate rapid adaptation. Other duties will include assisting with data visualizations as well as project and lab logistics such as training students, preparing materials for grant reports and applications, maintaining a website, and organizing events.

The technician will be part of a dynamic research team with opportunities for professional development, presentations, co-authorship on scientific manuscripts, and collaboration with colleagues at Rutgers, U. Washington, the Coral Reef Alliance, and beyond. Rutgers offers many opportunities to interact with biologists, oceanographers, climate scientists, and other scholars in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, the Rutgers Climate Institute, the Institute for Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, and the many other institutions in the New York region.

Minimum Qualifications
– A bachelor’s degree in ecology & evolution, marine biology, oceanography, climate, or a related scientific field, or an equivalent combination of education and relevant experience
– Exceptional organizational and data management skills
– Strong ability to accomplish tasks independently
– Excellent communication skills with professional colleagues
– Demonstrable skill with a scientific computing language (e.g., R, MATLAB, or Python) and with data science applications

Preferred Qualifications
– Experience with data management, including spatial data
– Knowledge of coral reef biology, ecology, or oceanography
– Experience with computer clusters and scientific computing
– Start date in summer 2017
– Experience on the Meso-American Reef or in Fiji or Indonesia

To apply, please please send a cover letter that describes your interest in the position, a curriculum vitae, and the contact information for three references to Malin Pinsky ( Please combine all components of the application into a single file, and include “CORAL tech position” in the subject line. Review of applications will begin on April 14, 2017 and continue until the position is filled.

This is a full-time position, initially appointed for a period of 12 months at an annual salary of $30,860-$35,000 (depending on qualifications), plus health insurance, retirement contributions, and other benefits. The position can be extended for at least one year depending on performance.

More information about the Pinsky lab can be found at Please contact Malin Pinsky ( if you have any questions.

New paper: Who should pick the winners of climate change?

It is tempting to try to guess which species will be the winners of climate change, and which the losers. But our new paper in Trends in Ecology and Evolution suggests that we should avoid doing that when we design management and conservation measures. Instead, we propose harnessing the diversity and evolutionary capacity of the natural world as a climate adaptation strategy by designing “adaptation networks.” We focus on coral reefs as a particularly salient example.

New paper: where did Nemo go?

Photo of orange clownfish courtesy of Simon Thorrold.

Baby fish float on ocean currents. So where do they go? Our paper out this week in Current Biology uses DNA to answer that question for clownfish in Papua New Guinea, and about 20 km is the simple answer. What’s especially exciting is that we show how very common and easily measured population genetic patterns called “isolation by distance” accurately measure the larval dispersal process. We validated our answer against observations of dispersal for hundreds of individual larvae (an incredibly time-consuming endeavor). Our findings help open the door to applying the isolation by distance method to a much wider range of marine species.

This work was the result of an exciting collaboration with Serge Planes, Geoff Jones, Simon Thorrold, Pablo Saenz-Agudelo, Michael Berumen, Michael Bode, and others.

Welcoming Wijnand Boonstra, Katrina Catalano, Sarah Gignoux-Wolfsohn, and Emily Moberg!

The lab is busy these days, and we’re excited to welcome a visitor, a new Ph.D. student, and two new postdocs!

  • Wijnand Boonstra is a sociologist from the Stockholm Resilience Centre, visiting to work on fisheries dynamics related to our NSF Coastal SEES project and GreenMar.
  • Katrina Catalano just finished her B.S. at Boston University and a field season in Belize. She’s interested in larval dispersal and reef fish metapopulation dynamics.
  • Sarah Gignoux-Wolfsohn is joining us from a Ph.D. at Northeastern University and will be working on population genomics and white-nose syndrome in bats with Brooke Maslo on our USFWS-funded project.
  • Emily Moberg is joining our Coastal SEES project to work on bioeconomic models of fishery responses to climate change in collaboration with Eli Fenichel and Simon Levin. She just finished a Ph.D. in the MIT/WHOI program.

See our updated People page!

PhD and postdoctoral positions in metapopulation dynamics and population genomics

PhD and postdoctoral positions in metapopulation dynamics and population genomics

One postdoctoral position and one PhD position are available in the Pinsky Lab at Rutgers University to study demography and metapopulation dynamics in clownfishes. The research is based in the Philippines and builds from six years of demographic and population genomic data. Key themes across both positions include understanding mechanisms of persistence in ecological networks by integrating massively parrallel DNA sequencing with ecological field studies. Both positions will also work closely with Will White at U. North Carolina – Wilmington on theoretical and modeling aspects of the research. Research in the Pinsky Lab broadly uses empirical data, mathematical models, and population genomics to study global change in the coastal ocean.

One (1) postdoc position is open:

1) Metapopulation dynamics postdoc: The postdoc will lead data analysis, integration, and modeling to test hypotheses about self-persistence and network-persistence in coral reef fishes. The research will be based primarily around existing data from mark-recapture studies, parentage studies, ecological surveys, and other sources, though opportunities also exist to collect new data. This position has two years of funding.

One (1) graduate assistant position is open, preferably for a Ph.D. degree:

1) Metapopulation dynamics graduate assistant: The GA will lead research on marine demography using field observations and experiments combined with population genomics. Possible topics include, but are not limited to, dispersal, density-dependence, reproduction, survival, thermal physiology, species interactions, and landscape ecology. Projects could involve a mix of field work, genomic wet lab work, bioinformatics, and ecological modeling. This position has five (5) years of guaranteed funding.

Across both positions, the ideal candidates will be skilled with data analysis, statistics, ecological modeling, and databases (or a strong aptitude for learning these skills, in the case of the GA). Applicants with evidence of creativity, productivity, strong oral and written communication abilities, and enthusiasm are especially encouraged to apply, particularly those that bring a new perspective, new ideas, or a new skillset to the team. For postdoctoral applications, a promising record of publication is highly valued. The successful applicants will be independent, motivated problem solvers who communicate well and enjoy working in a collaborative setting. Rutgers and the surrounding area provide an exciting intellectual environment, including the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources; the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences; the Institute of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences; the Genome Cooperative; the NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Lab; the Princeton Environmental Institute; the Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science; and beyond.

**Application process**
The postdoc start date is flexible and the position is open until filled. The GA will begin in summer or fall 2017. Review of postdoc applications will begin on October 1, 2016 and will continue on a rolling basis. Review of GA applications will continue on a rolling basis until December 2016.

Interested postdoc candidates should submit: 1) a one-­page cover letter that describes which position(s) they are applying for (and preferred position if applying to more than one) and their preferred start date, 2) a two-­page research statement describing their relevant background and anticipated research approach to the problem they would be addressing, 3) a CV, and 4) the names and contact information of three other scientists familiar with their work.

GA applicants should include a 1-2 page cover letter describing their interests, CV, a recent transcript, GRE scores, and contact information for three references. Qualified GA candidates will be contacted and encouraged to apply to the graduate program in either Ecology & Evolution ( or Oceanography (, depending on student interests. Ph.D. applications to Rutgers are due in December.

Please submit all materials to with “Postdoc application 2016” or “Graduate application 2016” as the subject.

Malin Pinsky
Assistant Professor
Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources
Institute of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences
Rutgers University
New Brunswick, NJ 08901