Multiple PhD and postdoctoral positions in climate change ecology and evolution

Multiple PhD and postdoctoral positions in climate change ecology and evolution

Three postdoctoral positions and one PhD position are available in the Pinsky Lab at Rutgers University to work on climate change ecology and evolution in marine ecosystems. The positions represent an exciting expansion of research efforts in this area. Broadly, research in the Pinsky Lab uses empirical data, mathematical models, and population genomics to study global change in the coastal ocean.

Key themes across all new positions include understanding the ecological and evolutionary processes that determine how climate variability and climate change filter through ocean communities to affect human behavior and the success or failure of conservation efforts. Postdocs and students will join an international network of collaborators across conservation, marine science, climate science, economics, sociology, and policy, including Josh Abbott (Arizona State U.), Daniel Schindler and Andre Punt (U. Washington), Dan Holland and Melissa Poe (NOAA), William Cheung and Daniel Pauly (U. British Columbia), Jorge Sarmiento (Princeton), Carl Folke (Stockholm U.), and Pat Halpin (Duke).

Three (3) postdoc positions are open:

1) Coupled Natural Human (CNH) systems postdoc: The postdoc will take the lead on a research project investigating the causes and consequences of ecological synchrony in the California Current large marine ecosystem. Key questions include how portfolio effects emerge in open systems and how oceanographic processes and fishing interact to affect population dynamics. The postdoc will also be part of a broader NSF-funded team studying coupled social-ecological dynamics and feedbacks from physics to fish to people.

2) Nereus Fellow: As part of the Nereus Program (, the Fellow will design and lead empirical research to understand the consequences of climate change and shifting species distributions for human behavior and adaptation in marine ecosystems. Resources for the research include large datasets of fishing vessel behavior over decadal time-scales, as well as other datasets on environmental changes and ecological states.

3) Eco-evolutionary dynamics postdoc: The postdoc will develop models and theory to understand the extent to which ecological turnover and evolutionary rescue could preserve coral reef function over the coming centuries, and whether conservation efforts can facilititate the adaptation process at the landscape scale. Application of the theory to case studies in three geographies will also be part of the research.

All postdoc positions are two years.

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

1) CNH Graduate Assistant: The GA will use statistical and process-based models to understand the mechanisms linking climate variability to marine animal population dynamics in the California Current large marine ecosystem, including recruitment and distribution. The GA will also be part of a broader NSF-funded team studying coupled social-ecological dynamics and feedbacks from physics to fish to people.

Across all positions, the ideal candidates will be skilled with data analysis, statistics, and ecological modeling (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.

The positions will be based at Rutgers with extensive opportunities for research visits across campuses, including U. Washington, U. British Columbia, and NOAA offices. Additional opportunities are available to interact with scientists at  the Institute of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences; the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Lab; the Princeton Environmental Institute; the Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science; and beyond.

**Application process**

The postdoc start dates are flexible and the positions are 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 until December 2016, when applications to Rutgers graduate programs are due.

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

New paper on the interaction of fishing and climate

Fishing and climate change: two of the largest human impacts on the ocean. But how do they interact? In a new paper just out in Ecosphere, Emma Fuller, Eleanor Brush, and I use an ecological model to build some intuition. We looked specifically at how fishing affects the ability of species to shift their distributions fast enough to keep up with climate velocity. Two main take-home messages:

  1. Fishing the leading edge of a species range has the biggest impact (this also tends to be where fishing is unregulated….)
  2. Marine protected areas (MPAs) can actually make it harder for species to keep up with climate if the MPAs concentrate fishing effort in narrower areas.

New “Fish Baste” climate and fish seminar series starting up!

We host a monthly seminar series on climate and fish, which call “Fish Baste,” designed to increase dialogue and collaboration among members of Rutgers, Princeton, U. Maine, and NOAA, as well as among researchers in ecology, social science, and climate science. Format is a short, informal talk, followed by discussion, and meetings are open to anyone.

New schedule for the year is filling up, and it looks great!fish_baste


Pinsky lab contributes to National Climate Assessment

Country_map_w_titleMaybe you saw the front page of the New York Times last Tuesday? It had the image here, and it was highlighting the publication of a new report from the federal government called the National Climate Assessment. Think of it like the IPCC report, but for the U.S., and it represented the work of hundreds if not thousands of scientists synthesizing everything we know about climate and its impact on this country. It’s fantastic to see it get this attention!

We got to see one small corner of this report in the making, since Malin was on the team that wrote the 296 page “technical input” report on Biodiversity, Ecosystems, and Ecosystem Services. It was a long and deliberate process… it started with conference calls through the fall of 2011, then a meeting with dozens of experts in Palo Alto, CA to flesh out the major pieces of the report. Then writing and revising through the spring of 2012, including a special box on “Climate Impacts on New England Fisheries” that we wrote. From there, a federal committee made up of academic and government scientists synthesized all the technical input reports, plus other materials into a draft National Climate Assessment. That was posted online in January 2013 for 90 days of public comments (more than 4000 received and responded to) and extensive peer review, including from the National Academies.

Mean latitude through time of four fisheries in the Northeast U.S.
Mean latitude through time of four fisheries in the Northeast U.S.

And then… drumroll, the final report came out this May, 2014, all 829 pages of it (don’t be too intimidated, though: the website they put together is beautiful and accessible). Wow, that was a long process. But if it has the power and authority to affect the actions of our federal, state, and local governments, plus change public attitudes and business planning, it’s entirely worth it. Oh, and that box on New England fisheries? Find it here, in the Oceans chapter of the final National Climate Assessment.

New paper on adding up the benefits we get from the ocean

Map of ecosystem services in Lemmens Inlet, BC.
Map of ecosystem services in Lemmens Inlet, BC.
Guerry et al. 2012 Modeling benefits from nature: using ecosystem services to inform coastal and marine spatial planning is now out in the International Journal of Biodiversity Science, Ecosystem Services, and Management. The paper describes a suite of tools for calculating marine ecosystem services from a seascape and sets the stage for the rest of the Marine Natural Capital Project.