EOAS Postdoctoral Fellows Program

Application Deadline: Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Rutgers Institute of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences (EOAS) invites applications for its 2018-2019 Postdoctoral Fellows Program.

EOAS unites a broad, diverse research community studying Earth’s interior, continents, oceans, atmosphere, and biosphere, their interactions and co-evolution through our planet’s history, and humanity’s dependence and impacts upon these systems.  Its postdoctoral fellowship program is intended to catalyze new, interdisciplinary research in the Earth system sciences, carried out in collaboration with a multidisciplinary team of at least two EOAS faculty mentors.

Illustrative, non-exclusive, faculty-identified examples of cross-cutting areas of interest include: the formation and evolution of habitable planets; the coupled human, climatic, and biogeochemical dynamics of coastal ecosystems; and the scaling of biophysical interactions and emergent properties for planktonic organisms. Further details on these examples are provided below.

Application Information

For fullest consideration, applications should be received by February 1, 2018. Evaluation of applications and interviews of candidates will begin immediately. Applicants should include:

  • A cover letter,
  • Curriculum vitae including a publication list,
  • A 3-page research proposal, and
  • Contact information for three referees familiar with their work.

Initial awards are for one year, with the possibility of renewal for a second year depending upon satisfactory performance and available funding. The starting date will be September 1, 2018.

Candidates’ proposals should be developed in consultation with their proposed faculty mentors, who should be clearly identified in the proposal. For the EOAS faculty directory, click here. At least one faculty mentor should be affiliated with one of the following School of Environmental and Biological Sciences departments: Ecology, Evolution & Natural Resources; Environmental Sciences; and Marine & Coastal Sciences.

Candidates will be evaluated based on:

  • Their past record and letters of reference,
  • The ability of their proposed mentors to facilitate their research, and
  • The feasibility, intellectual merit, and broader impacts of their proposed research, including the potential for their work to advance cross-disciplinary research at Rutgers within the Earth system sciences.

Important Deadlines and Dates for Applying:

  • Applications Open: Early January 2018
  • Application Deadline: February 1, 2018
  • Award Notification: April 1-15, 2018
  • Start Date: September 1, 2018

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Detailed Descriptions of Faculty-Identified Areas of Interest

The following areas of interest are examples of areas that would be responsive to the EOAS postdoctoral fellowship call, but are not exclusive. We welcome all proposals addressing topics within the five EOAS strategic themes of planetary habitability, Earth system history, Earth observations and forecasting, Earth system risks, and polar change.

Earth is the only biologically active planet yet known to science. But the rapid development of the field of exoplanet discovery and characterization, certain to accelerate with the upcoming launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, means that may well change in the next few decades. The conceptual work necessary to understand future biologically active exoplanets is already beginning. Key questions include how terrestrial planets form, how they may obtain liquid water and maintain habitable temperatures, how atmospheric composition can reveal the potential for life, how interactions with their star(s) might be similar to or differ from Earth’s interactions with the Sun over billions of years, and how different initial physical and chemical conditions could constrain the evolution of planetary biogeochemical cycles. A postdoctoral fellow in this area could draw on scientific expertise at Rutgers relating to topics such as astrophysics, meteoritics and planet formation, protein evolution, the origins and mechanisms of photosynthesis, major-element cycling, and environmental geomicrobiology. They could also link to resources at other institutions in the region.

Estuaries, beaches, and dunes provide habitat for coastal species of conservation concern and support active fisheries. Located at the boundary of land and sea, these ecosystems are uniquely vulnerable to climate change-driven shifts in terrestrial runoff, storm surge, and sea level.  Extensive urban and industrial development surrounding many of these ecosystems compromises their resiliency and ability to provide valued ecosystem services.  While many of the direct effects of climate change and development on coastal ecosystems have been documented, science has only recently begun to consider more fully the potential impacts of their coupled human-natural system dynamics. Such dynamics can give rise to non-linear ‘tipping point’ responses within urban coastal ecosystems, an outcome rarely addressed in current literature.  Rutgers faculty working in related areas have expertise in biodiversity conservation, food web dynamics, coastal biogeochemistry, climate and sea-level change, spatial analysis, environmental sociology, and land use policy.  Examples of potential research topics include feedbacks between landowner responses to sea-level rise and efforts to conserve coastal biodiversity, the influence of changing river discharge on estuarine food webs and contaminant bioaccumulation, and strategies for monitoring and analyzing the multi-decadal socioecological dynamics of coastal change.

Humans rely on marine ecosystems, from the microscopic phytoplankton that produce half the oxygen we breathe to the fish and other animals that provide food for more than half the world’s people. Most marine organisms, including viruses, phytoplankton, and larval fish, spend life in the water column as microscopic plankton, floating with the ocean currents. For these drifters, feeding, movement, and species interactions are governed by a cascade of physical processes ranging from microscale turbulence to mesoscale eddies. Some plankton can influence their movement by regulating their buoyancy or by actively swimming, but none can escape transport by ocean physics. This situation creates a fascinating and poorly understood set of interactions between biological and physical processes that stretch across spatial scales of millimeters to kilometers and temporal scales of seconds to years. A better understanding of these interactions is key to predicting emergent population dynamics in the ocean. Rutgers faculty working in related areas have expertise in the observation and modeling of ocean physics, phytoplankton physiology, biophysical interactions, marine metapopulation dynamics, and marine ecology. Examples of potential research topics include phytoplankton-virus-turbulence or larval-turbulence interactions, the propagation of phytoplankton bloom demise, and the emergent properties of larval dispersal across the seascape, with an ultimate goal of connecting microscale biophysical interactions to dynamics of marine populations.