Writing retreat at Lacawac

The lab spent some time working and relaxing at Lacawac Sanctuary in Pennsylvania.

Lab members recently took advantage of the wonderful fall weather (and peak fall foliage) and organized a four-day writing retreat at the beautiful Lacawac Sanctuary in Pennsylvania. They spent the week getting in some much needed writing time, relaxing, socializing, and enjoying the beautiful scenery. They were joined by Jem Baldisimo, a collaborator from Old Dominion University on the NSF PIRE project studying genomic change over the last century in the Philippines.

The lab is treated to a visitor

Recently, lab members were treated to a two-week visit by Jason Toy, a PhD student in Dr. Kristy Kroeker’s lab at University of California Santa Cruz. Jason spent time with lab members Brendan Reid, Rene Clark and others to discuss and learn computational approaches to population genetics (e.g., “momi2”). Later in the week, he presented his own research to the lab and got to participate in an engaging discussion (arranged by Brendan) with several NOAA scientists discussing their work via Zoom. Jason’s talk was titled “Adaptive capacity of surfperches to rapid environmental change: Illuminating the roles of local adaptation and range shifts in population resilience”. Not least, Jason got to participate in several social outings with EENR grad students and faculty. Safe travels, Jason. We really enjoyed your visit!

Lab members in the Philippines for fieldwork and a workshop

After a 2-year hiatus, the Pinsky lab finally made it back to the Philippines! Brendan, René, Kyra, Marial & Allison recently returned from a trip to Dumaguete, Negros Oriental where they engaged in research and education endeavors as part of an NSF-funded PIRE project investigating Centennial Genetic and Species Transformations in the Epicenter of Marine Biodiversity. While there, the team helped with fieldwork to assess changes in species diversity, and participated in a 5-day bioinformatics and genomics workshop hosted at Silliman University.

Lab members also participated in excursions to explore the culture and natural beauty of the Philippines. Excursions included snorkeling and scuba diving at Apo Island and exploring waterfalls and hot springs. They also met with Filipino collaborators and visited local markets and restaurants.

We’re hiring a researcher (part-time)!

The Global Change Biology research group (https://pinsky.marine.rutgers.edu/) in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources is searching for an organized, enthusiastic, and skilled population genomics researcher. This position is half-time (19.5 hours per week). We use population genomics and data science to study global change biology, particularly in coastal marine environments. Collaborative projects address bats, bees, and wildlife biology research on land and in the ocean.

The researcher will coordinate the population genomics lab, manage research projects locally and nationally, maintain and promote open science practices, and assist with building a collaborative and supportive research environment for all members. Specific duties may include genomic sampling above and below water; building DNA and RNA libraries; developing and applying bioinformatic pipelines; performing population genomic and related analyses; performing other data science and statistical analyses; documenting work performed; maintaining databases; developing information and editorial input for research papers; and resolving a diverse range of problems with creativity. The successful candidate will manage operations of the lab and the procurement, operation, and maintenance of specialized equipment. The researcher will also teach, train, and supervise students on laboratory processes and equipment so that molecular ecology tools are available to researchers across the Department and the graduate program. The researcher will coordinate research; plan, establish, and refine protocols; prepare reports; manage grant funds; and act as a point of contact for both internal and external constituents. The researcher will complete work independently, with broadly defined work objectives and will be a key partner in maintaining a world-class research group.

We offer a collaborative, supportive, and interdisciplinary work environment, opportunities to be involved in a wide range of research projects, extensive opportunities for learning and professional development, and the expectation of co-authorship on scientific manuscripts. We value a healthy work-life balance and anti-racist practices.

Work environment will primarily be a molecular ecology lab and an office. Fieldwork will be infrequent but may be diverse, remote, physically challenging, or involve international travel. Sample collection could involve SCUBA diving or hiking. Work may require lifting 30 pounds.

We acknowledge that the land on which we stand is the ancestral territory of the Lenape People. We pay respect to Indigenous people throughout the Lenape diaspora—past, present, and future—and honor those that have been historically and systemically disenfranchised. We also acknowledge that Rutgers University, like New Jersey and the United States as a nation, was founded upon the exclusions and erasures of Indigenous peoples.

Benefits

This is a one-year, half-time position. Pay will be $25-$30 per hour (depending on experience) for 19.5 hours per week. Start date is flexible, but close to September 1, 2022 is preferred.

Knowledge and Experience

  • A Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in a related scientific specialty or discipline, or an equivalent combination of education and/or experience that demonstrates comprehensive knowledge and understanding of research principles and practices.
  • Experience building population genomic libraries, developing bioinformatic pipelines, and conducting population genomics analyses is preferred but not required.
  • Computer literacy in R and a commitment to open science practices.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills.
  • Exceptional organizational skills and strong ability to accomplish tasks independently
  • Scientific diving experience is preferred but not required.

Applications

To apply, please please send a cover letter that describes your interest in and qualifications for the position, a curriculum vitae, and the contact information for three references to Malin Pinsky (malin.pinsky@rutgers.edu). Please combine all components of the application into a single file, and include “Molecular Ecology Researcher” in the subject line. Review of applications will continue until the position is filled.

Please contact Malin Pinsky (malin.pinsky@rutgers.edu) with questions.

FutureBlue website launched!

We are very excited to announce the launch of our project website: futureblue.net. FutureBlue is an online database and mapping platform designed to make projections of future ocean conditions (species distributions, wind speed, oceanography, etc.) available and useful for the broadest array of stakeholders possible. The project is led by Rutgers, UCONN, and The Nature Conservancy, along with a large interdisciplinary team from academic, governmental, and non-profit organizations, including world experts in climate science, social science, oceanography, marine ecology and management, and online data portal development. FutureBlue originated as part of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Convergence Accelerator program in 2021, and we are currently in the process of securing funding for Phase II to expand and improve the tool.

New papers highlighting ecoevolutionary adaptation to climate change

Two new papers from the lab discuss how best to understand, and to mitigate, the effects of climate change by applying ecoevolutionary theory.

The first, published in Trends in Ecology and Evolution (doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2022.04.011) proposes that dominant ecoevolutionary processes for coping with climate change differ among terrestrial, freshwater, and marine taxa, but that a unified framework, spanning realms, is needed to fully understand them. The review was authored by Malin and coauthors Lise Comte (Illinois State U.) and Dov Sax (Brown U.).

The second, published in Ecological Applications (doi: 10.1002/eap.2650), investigated the merits of two restoration strategies for corals in a changing ocean: ‘demographic restoration’, in which coral is grown elsewhere and transplanted to a site; and ‘assisted evolution’, in which tolerant genotypes are transplanted. This paper, led by Lukas DeFilippo (NOAA) and coauthored by several current and former Pinsky lab members, used an ecoevolutionary simulation model to tackle the question. The model revealed that realistic levels of ‘demographic restoration’ offered little benefit, while transplanting thermally resistant corals helped, but only if maintained for a century. The study concluded that restoration approaches focused on building genetic variation would likely work better by allowing corals to naturally adapt to warming temperatures over time.

Two perspective pieces in Science

A snippet of the second article, coauthored with Alexa Fredston.
Crab photo: Pascal Kobeh/Minden Pictures.

Malin has coauthored two new perspective pieces in Science.

The first, with Nina Therkildsen of Cornell, highlights the underappreciated effects of fishing on evolutionary dynamics within (and among) exploited species. The second, with Alexa Fredston, discusses the stark choice we face between runaway climate change and a likely marine mass extinction on the one hand, and a much less consequential 2 degree rise in global temperatures on the other.

The second article was picked by the Washington Post, Inside Climate News, and National Geographic.