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 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


Jennifer joins Chris Chambers (NOAA) to raise larval summer flounder

Jennifer has been helping out Chris Chambers (NOAA collaborator) and his team raise larval summer flounder through to metamorphosis under a range of different temperatures. These larvae have parents caught off of New Jersey, and their growth development and survival will be compared with that of larvae with North Carolina parents. The goal of this project is to compare the thermal performance of summer flounder throughout the species range and involves taking many photos of metamorphosed larvae (which are sometimes very iridescent!).

Metamorphosed summer flounder larvae shot by Emily Olson (NOAA)

Pinsky Lab members at the United Nations

Pictured left to right, Zoe Kitchel, Becca Selden

This past week postdoc Dr. Becca Selden and graduate student Zoë Kitchel traveled to New York to attend the United Nations Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea with the Nereus Program. In line with the meeting’s focus on promoting a decade of ocean science for sustainable development, the Nereus fellows presented on Interdisciplinary and Equity. Composed of early career scientists, the group reflected on the value of working across disciplines in their work, and how collaborations with scientists, managers, and stakeholders have improved their questions, and the interpretation of their results. Dr. Selden spoke about her work looking at adaptation strategies in fishing communities in response to shifting biomass of target species, and highlighted the need to work across disciplines during every step of the research process. Highlights included a peek into the UN general assembly, in addition to conversations with the diverse audience of UN policy advisors, diplomats, and NGOs.

Dr. Becca Selden presenting at the United Nations

Amaia Astarloa from U. Basque Country, Spain visiting us on a research exchange

Amaia Astarloa, a PhD student from the AZTI Foundation in Pasaia, Spain (and the University of Basque Country), is visiting to collaborate with members of our lab on her research. She is currently developing her thesis on the role of the environment and prey in driving marine predator distribution and abundance in the Bay of Biscay. She is advised by Drs. Guillem Chust and Maite Louzao in the Marine Environment and Resources program. Welcome, Amaia!

Becca testifies on the state of fisheries in front of U.S. House subcommittee!

Dr. Becca Selden discussed climate change as an emerging issue for fisheries in front of the House Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife (WOW) on May 1, 2019.  The clip of her testimony is here. Her written testimony, and the video of the entire hearing on the State of Fisheries can be found on the WOW website.

Climate Change Hits Sea Creatures Hardest: Malin et al.’s new paper in Nature [edit: and the cover!]

Pinsky et al. 2019 makes the cover of Nature!

Malin and coauthors, Drs. Anna Eikeset, Doug McCauley, Jonathan Payne, and Jennifer Sunday, published a paper on April 24th, 2019 on the vulnerability of marine versus terrestrial ectotherms. While the vulnerability of marine and terrestrial fauna have each been studied in isolation, a direct comparison of marine and terrestrial organisms physiological sensitivity to warming has yet to occur.

The team used species’ thermal safety margin (the difference between the hottest temperature that an organism can safely tolerate, and its hottest hourly body temperature when in the coolest part of their environment) as a tool to directly compare ocean and land dwelling species. This metric approximates the amount of additional warming a species can tolerate. They calculated this metric for 88 marine and 299 terrestrial species, and found that marine species are more likely to live close to their upper thermal limit than terrestrial species. Terrestrial species also have greater access to thermal refugia (cooler places found within their habitat), such as shaded or subterranean areas. Both of these factors make marine organisms more sensitive to warming than their terrestrial counterparts.

Click here to read the full paper (free access here), and here to read the Rutgers press release.

Key figure from Pinsky et al. 2019

Additional Press Coverage:

Adaptation strategies of coastal fishing communities as species shift poleward published in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Dr. Talia Young and co-authors found substantial community-level changes in fishing patterns since 1996. Southern trawl fleets of larger vessels with low catch diversity fished up to 400 km further north , while trawl fleets of smaller vessels with low catch diversity shrank or disappeared from the data set over time. Trawl fleets (regardless of size) with high catch diversity, however, did not dramatically change fishing location, nor disappear from the data set as often. Their analysis suggests that catch diversity and high mobility could be effective adaptation strategies to environmental change.

A map of the eastern coast of the United States showing where fishing boats from Beaufort, NC are fishing
The center of fishing activity for the large-vessel community fleet in Beaufort, N.C., by year.

Press coverage: