The Smithsonian Institution seeks three energetic, field- and data-oriented Interdisciplinary Postdoctoral Research Fellows to develop and implement projects related to the Our Shared Future: Life on a Sustainable Planet Initiative and MarineGEO program. One postdoctoral fellow will be hired in each of three areas: 1) Oyster Reef Ecology, 2) Ecology of Urban Estuaries, and 3) Marine Biodiversity Conservation (see detailed research themes below).  Each postdoctoral research fellow position is a Federal term position with a maximum of three years employment. We especially seek applicants with strong writing skills and experience in data mining and synthesis.

Oyster Reef Ecology

Biogenic reefs, created by living marine organisms, are the foundations of marine ecosystems throughout the world, supporting biodiversity and ecosystem services critical to human health and livelihoods. Oyster reefs have declined by 85% from historical abundances and are functionally extinct in many regions. The causes of these declines are many, including overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution, and disease, but reefs now face additional, increasing pressure from rapid human population growth and development and rapid ocean warming and acidification.

We seek a postdoctoral fellow who will take innovative approaches to exploring how understanding responses of diverse types of oysters to stressors can inform effective oyster and oyster reef conservation and restoration via ecosystem-based adaptation and nature-based solutions. The fellow will also work alongside Smithsonian scientists to build an oyster research network to facilitate comparative studies at large spatial scales.

Ecology of Urbanized Estuaries

With 40% of the global population living within 50 km of a coast, anthropogenic effects on coastal ecosystems — especially bays and estuaries — are enormous and diverse. Such human pressures often are concentrated in urban settings, where   development and economic activities strongly shape watershed characteristics, biological communities, and ecosystem function, impacting both biodiversity and human well-being s. Land use, industrialization, shoreline development, commercial shipping, and fishing pressure are among key drivers of change in urban estuaries. In turn, these environmental changes interact with ongoing climate change (e.g., increased precipitation intensity, storm surge, and sea level rise), which can affect ecosystem responses.

We seek a postdoctoral fellow who will advance interdisciplinary environmental research and data synthesis to understand ecological processes, dynamics, and function of urbanized estuaries. This fellow will work with a team of Smithsonian scientists with diverse interests to develop comparative analyses across estuaries and multiple spatial scales.

Marine Biodiversity Conservation

Conservation interventions like marine protected areas (MPAs) and other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs) will be central strategies for achieving multiple sustainable development goals, such as food security and protection of marine resources. International policies aspire to expand MPAs and OECMs globally and within the U.S. to 30% of marine areas by 2030, but there is debate over how to optimize the design and management of MPA and OECM networks to enhance their climate resilience and potential co-benefits. For example, the locations of many current MPAs are biased toward ecologically intact areas with low fishing pressure, limiting near-term conservation impacts.

We seek a postdoctoral fellow to pursue innovative approaches to spatial planning that integrate assessments of past and projected impacts of marine conservation interventions, social dimensions, and/or vulnerability of fisheries to climate change. These approaches will be necessary to ensure that marine conservation efforts achieve desired outcomes of supporting fisheries, livelihoods, and food security.

These positions are based at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, MD and require occasional travel. Research and education at SERC address grand challenges in environmental science by working across ecological scales, conducting long-term field studies, and engaging in comparative, synthetic studies. Our scientists collaborate across the Smithsonian Institution and beyond, with federal and state agencies, universities, and international organizations. We value public engagement and have strong programs in citizen science, science education, and science communication.