Postdoctoral Researcher in Coral Reef Ecology

Smithsonian Environmental Research Center / MarineGEO

Edgewater, Maryland

Job Type Student / postdoc
Salary Details 68,405
Deadline Jul 23, 2024

The Smithsonian’s MarineGEO program, based at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, Maryland, seeks a postdoctoral scholar to advance a new project funded by the EPA South Florida Program focusing on trait-based analyses of climate vulnerability and functional change in biological communities of the Florida Reef Tract.  The project leverages the long-running benthic survey time series at Coral Reef Evaluation and Monitoring Program (CREMP) and SECREMP reef sites, from the Dry Tortugas in the south to Martin County in the north, to conduct an intensive survey of fishes and mobile macroinvertebrates of the Florida Reef Tract using Reef Life Survey protocols. The Postdoc will work with PIs Emmett Duffy (Smithsonian), Leah Harper (Smithsonian), Rob Ruzicka (Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission and CREMP) and Dave Gilliam (Nova Southeastern University and SECREMP).

Research Context: This project seeks to provide a key baseline and predictive foundation for informing management responses to stressors related to climate warming, reef structural simplification, and fishing. As part of this project, we will census fishes and mobile macroinvertebrates at all 74 CREMP and SECREMP sites in 2024 and 2025, and assemble and analyze a database of co-located coral, fish, and invertebrate community structure surveys, water temperature readings, and reef physical structure measurements across the Florida Reef Tract.

Research Environment: The postdoc will be based in Emmett Duffy’s group in the MarineGEO program at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, Maryland, but will work closely with the Co-PIs and a diverse group of experts in marine science and coral reef ecology in Florida. The postdoc will also have opportunities to participate in MarineGEO network-wide activities. 

Responsibilities and Duties: The postdoc will be a key member of the project team, helping to organize and conduct fieldwork (primarily in Summer 2025), and co-leading data collation, synthesis, and the writing of peer-reviewed manuscripts. The postdoc will also be expected to attend and present at conferences. We welcome applicants with a background in marine science, particularly coral reef ecology. Research activities include diver visual surveys of coral reef fishes and invertebrates, statistical analysis and modeling of data linking environment to biodiversity and community structure, literature data mining, and potentially meta-analysis. The postdoc will have opportunities to build skills including big data management and analysis, team science coordination, and community engagement.

Basic Requirements:

  • Doctoral degree in a relevant field of natural, social, or interdisciplinary sciences.
  • Demonstrated skills in one or more of the following: marine ecology, quantitative ecology, coral reef ecology.
  • Ability to plan, execute, communicate, and publish independent and collaborative research.
  • Eagerness to learn from and work with a diverse, interdisciplinary community.
  • AAUS-certified scientific diver (current active diver status strongly preferred).

Desired Qualifications:

  • Strong track record of lead-authored scientific publications.
  • Strong quantitative spatial and coding skills (e.g., Python, R, GIS).
  • Experience quantifying, mapping, and analyzing data on biodiversity, community structure, and climate-mediated ecological change.
  • Strong knowledge of West Atlantic reef fishes and experience with in situ fish visual census.

Appointment & Application: The appointment is for up to 2.5 years (renewable after each year pending satisfactory progress) as a Smithsonian Trust employee at the IS-9 level, with a competitive salary, paid leave, health, vision, dental, and other benefits. Proof of authorization to work in the U.S. is required, but international applicants are welcome. This is not a federal position.

Questions: To learn more about MarineGEO, please visit: https://marinegeo.si.edu. To learn more about the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, please visit: https://serc.si.edu. Please address any inquiries to: harperl@si.edu. DO NOT send applications to this email.


How to apply: To apply and for more details about the position, visit the following link:


As part of your application, you must submit a cover letter in the “Personal Summary” section describing your suitability for the project and previous achievements (2 pages max) and a curriculum vitae (CV).

When you apply, please indicate that you are responding to the posting on Conservation Job Board.

Category Ecology, Marine Biology
Tags GIS