Open postdoc position:Metagenomic reconstruction of feed composition to support aquaculture sustainability certification
OVERVIEW: Aquaculture is the fastest growing sector of the global food system, creating an enormous demand for feeds that themselves contain fish. These supply chains are largely unregulated and invisible, yet have far-reaching implications for ecosystems and human health. We are seeking a postdoctoral researcher to join our project team to examine the species composition and geographic sources of fish products used in aquaculture feeds worldwide. The position will offer important leadership opportunities in two regards. First, building on earlier metabarcoding work, the postdoctoral associate will explore the potential for leveraging shotgun sequencing approaches to better assess the taxonomic composition and relative abundance of fish species within aquaculture feeds collected worldwide. The resulting species lists will be used to assess the global geography of connections between the harvest of wild fish and the production of farmed fish. Second, the postdoc will constructively engage with aquaculture industry and NGO representatives to pave the way for integrating metagenomic tools into standards for sustainability certifications. Thus, we seek a combination of hard and soft skills that will foster success in both of these major goals.
This project is a collaborative effort, and will require a team-oriented approach as the postdoc works closely with a group of Cornell researchers as well as our NGO partners (Environmental Defense Fund; WorldFish). We anticipate a roughly equal split of time investment between the molecular ecology and sustainability framework goals of the project. The primary tasks will include 1) working with our team to design, optimize, and validate a shotgun sequencing approach for inferring species compositions in sample mixtures, 2) leading bioinformatic data processing and reporting overall results, and 3) communicating project findings to a broad audience while working with NGO, industry, and trade association partners to develop a strategy for incorporating DNA-based ingredient tracing into the next generation of sustainability certifications. The postdoc will be expected to lead the preparation of both scientific publications and outreach materials, with support and collaboration from other team members.
DESIRED QUALIFICATIONS: In keeping with the dual goals of the project, our ideal candidates would have the following credentials: - Strong computational and genetics lab skills based on metabarcoding, metagenomics, and/or bioinformatics experience - Experience in fisheries, aquatic conservation, and/or sustainable food systems, including stakeholder engagement, is preferred but not required - Evidence of ability to work both collaboratively and independently - Evidence of ability and motivation to publish research results in peer-reviewed journals -- - A Ph.D. in molecular ecology, bioinformatics, fisheries, or a related field must be completed prior to starting the appointment
TERMS OF APPOINTMENT: This postdoc position is a full-time appointment, starting in summer 2023 or as soon as possible thereafter. Residency in Ithaca, NY is encouraged, but we have some flexibility. The postdoc will be jointly supervised by Pete McIntyre and Nina Overgaard Therkildsen in the Department of Natural Resources & the Environment, which is home to a vibrant community of sustainability scientists at Cornell University. We will support a variety of professional development opportunities within and beyond the project, including engaging with fellow postdocs from other projects funded by the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability.
Salary will be commensurate with experience and competitive, following the National Institutes of Health National Service Awards (NIH NSRA) scale. We have assured funding for an initial 18-month appointment, and anticipate opportunities for extension dependent upon satisfactory performance and availability of funds.Cornell University and our team embrace diversity and seek candidates who will contribute to a climate that supports students, faculty, and staff of all identities and backgrounds. We strongly encourage individuals from underrepresented and/or marginalized identities to apply.
TIMELINE & APPLICATION PROCESS: Review of applications will begin on May 29, and continue until the position is filled. To apply, please create a single PDF containing a 2-page cover letter detailing your interest, a complete CV, names and contact information for 3 references, and reprints of your 2-3 most relevant and compelling publications. Applications should be emailed to both Pete (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Nina (email@example.com) with the subject line: “Aquafeeds postdoc application”. We very much welcome pre-application inquiries and questions.