Postdoc available in population genomics and global change

A three-year postdoctoral position is available in the Global Change Ecology & Evolution Lab at Rutgers University. The postdoc will join a NSF PIRE-funded project to study micro-evolutionary responses to a century of habitat degradation and intensive exploitation in Southeast Asia. The project is using DNA sequencing from a unique historical collection of coastal marine fishes in the Philippines from the R/V Albatross expedition (1907-1909), complemented with modern re-collections of the same species and locations. The postdoc will join a team of researchers that includes Kent Carpenter and Dan Barshis (Old Dominion University), Chris Bird (Texas A&M), Beth Polidoro (Arizona State), Robin Waples (NOAA), Jeff Williams (Smithsonian), Angel Alcala (Silliman U.), and others.

The postdoc will lead analyses of multiple population genomic datasets through time, including changes in diversity and signatures of selection, compare impacts and changes across species, and conduct trait-based analyses to understand characteristics of populations more or less prone to genetic bottlenecks. The postdoc will also contribute to summer population genomic workshops in the Philippines. Extensive opportunities for collaboration across the multi-institutional team, across Rutgers, and in the region are available, including within the Rutgers Genome Cooperative, the Institute of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, and the Genetics Department. The postdoc will have the opportunity to mentor undergraduate and graduate students.

The position is ideally suited to quantitative researchers with a strong background in population genomics, bioinformatics, data science, and global change. No experience in marine biology required, though experience with population genomic modeling, Approximate Bayesian Computation, database management, and/or hierarchical modeling is a plus. 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. A promising record of publication is valued. The successful applicant will be an independent, motivated problem solver who communicates well and enjoys working in a collaborative setting.

**Position details**
The postdoc start dates are flexible, with preferred dates between May and October 2020. Salary starts at $50,000 per year and includes health insurance, retirement, tax savings plans, and other benefits. Funding for conferences and a computer are available. This is a one-year appointment with the expectation that it will be renewed twice (three years total), contingent upon satisfactory performance. Applicants must have a PhD at the time of employment.

**Application process**
Review of applications will begin on December 16, 2019 and will continue on a rolling basis. Interested candidates should email to malin.pinsky@rutgers.edu: 1) a one­page cover letter that describes their interest in the position and their relevant background, 2) a CV, and 3) the names and contact information for three scientists familiar with their work.

**Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey**
Rutgers is situated in New Jersey at a crossroads of American innovation, commerce, and culture and with a history entwined with that of the nation. Chartered in 1766, the university is the only one in the United States that is, at once, a colonial college, a land-grant institution, and a state university. Located within an easy drive of New York City, there are nonetheless an exceptionally wide array of marine, freshwater, and terrestrial ecosystems nearby, from the continental shelf and estuaries to barrier islands, coastal plains, the piedmont, Precambrian highlands, and ridge and valley geological provinces. Ecology & evolution at Rutgers consists of approximately 60 faculty and 50 graduate students pursuing research and training in conservation biology, ecosystem ecology, evolutionary biology, marine biology, microbial ecology, population and community ecology, population genetics, and restoration ecology.

Malin Pinsky
Associate Professor
Global Change Ecology & Evolution Lab
Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources
Institute of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences
Rutgers University
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
USA

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malin.pinsky@rutgers.edu

Alternative stable states in conservation behavior in PNAS

Ed Tekwa (postdoc in the lab) led a study just out in PNAS, “Path-dependent institutions drive alternative stable states in conservation.” 

A commercial fishing boat in Reykjavik, Iceland.

We hear almost every day in the news about environmental disasters, but the world is also full of many environmental success stories. Why do we succeed at conservation some of the time, but fail other times? In our paper, we studied people’s decisions about whether to conserve or to over-harvest a renewable resource like fish or timber. Surprisingly, we found that people often get trapped by their past decisions. If they start out over-harvesting, they tend to continue over-harvesting. But the opposite is also true: once people start conserving, this behavior is also self-perpetuating. We built a mathematical model for this behavior, and showed that it explains global patterns in fisheries decisions better than any previous theory.  Our results challenge the conventional expectation that collapse of fast-growing resources is unlikely, but also offer hope that conservation is much easier to continue once we start.


Welcome to Jude Kong!

We’re excited to welcome Dr. Jude Kong to the lab! Jude brings a wealth of experience in mathematical modeling and applied math, including for diseases and aquatic ecosystems. He has his PhD from U. Alberta and will be working on process-based models for shifting species distributions. Welcome, Jude!

Reuters in-depth reporting highlights our work

Reuters released the results of a more than year-long investigation into climate change, fish, and fisheries called Ocean Shock that we supported throughout. The data in their visualizations are from OceanAdapt and their summer flounder story builds from our NSF-funded Coastal SEES research with Kevin St. Martin, Bonnie McCay, Eli Fenichel, and Simon Levin. We’re all excited to see Mo Tamman and the rest of the team’s wonderful storytelling and science communication skills brought to bear on this important issue!

Communities respond within a year to temperature variation

Map of survey area with sub-regions colored by magnitude of long-term change in CTI in spring.

Patrick’s paper from his MS is now online early at Ecography! He studied temporal change in community composition across the Northeast US continental shelf and found that changes through time could be explained by species associations with bottom temperature. Measured as the Community Temperature Index (CTI), composition changed by about one third of a degree (°C) for every 1 °C increase in bottom temperature on average. Species have non-linear responses to changes in temperature, however, and these nonlinearities scaled up to a nonlinear relationship between composition and temperature.

Tools of Science videos feature lab members

‘Tools of Science’ is a series of unique, educational videos designed to explore the nature and process of science through the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Videos introduce the science and engineering practices from the point of view of practicing scientists and are designed for easy integration into any STEM experience to help illustrate the non-linear, cyclical nature of science and the creative vision and skills needed to conduct scientific research. Pinsky Lab members are featured in the Modeling video, or check out them all here. The films were developed by Kay Bidle, Janice McDonnell, Kim Thamatrakoln (all at Rutgers) and Tilapia Film, Inc.

 

Science Policy Forum: climate change may spark global fish conflict

Our paper in Science out today, “Preparing ocean governance for species on the move” is available here or in Spanish here.

News coverage:

Ocean currents shape the geography of life in the Coral Triangle

Coral dispersal in an oceanographic model for the western tropical Pacific

In a new paper published online today in Progress in Oceanography, Diane Thompson and collaborators (including Malin) show how ocean currents transport coral larvae throughout the western Tropical Pacific, and how the barriers posed by these currents have helped shape where species are found.

Link for free access until July 27, 2018 is here.

Thompson, D., J. Kleypas, F. Castruccio, E. Curchitser, M. L. Pinsky, B. Jönsson, and J. Watson (2018). Variability in oceanographic barriers to coral larval dispersal: do currents shape biodiversity? Progress in Oceanography 165: 110-122 doi: 10.1016/j.pocean.2018.05.007