NSF-funded Postdoctoral Associate in Urban Wildlife Ecology & Evolution


The postdoctoral associate will join an NSF-funded project with Bradley Cosentino (Hobart & William Smith Colleges; HWS) in collaboration with James Gibbs (SUNY-ESF) and Adalgisa Caccone (Yale University). The goal of the project is to understand how urbanization causes phenotypic evolution via adaptive and non-adaptive mechanisms. The study takes advantage of the pigmentation model system in eastern gray squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis), a species with two genetically-based color morphs: gray and melanic. We seek to understand the extent to which clines in melanism along urbanization gradients are caused by divergent natural selection versus historical founder effects associated with introduction events. The postdoc will lead field surveys, data analysis, and publications on variation in squirrel melanism along urbanization gradients in 10 cities in the eastern United States and Canada. The postdoc will also coordinate the collection of tissue samples from squirrels for population genomic analyses in collaboration with the Caccone lab at Yale, and contribute to outreach efforts via community science and engagement with K12 schools. Opportunities exist for the postdoc to work with existing datasets to analyze range-wide variation in squirrel melanism, or to ask additional questions of interest. Extensive travel for fieldwork in the eastern United States and Canada will be required. The postdoc will be based at Hobart and William Smith Colleges (Geneva, NY), meet frequently with the PIs and other project team members (postdoc at Yale, PhD student at SUNY-ESF, undergrad researchers at all institutions), and have access to resources at nearby SUNY-ESF in Syracuse, NY. The postdoc will have the opportunity to teach and mentor undergraduate students in research at HWS for developing a teaching and mentoring portfolio. This is a 12-month position with benefits and funding available for renewal for up to three years depending on satisfactory performance. If renewed, the postdoc will be expected to teach a single stand-alone course during the Maymester or January term in the second or third year. This position is ideal for anyone seeking professional development for a career that involves urban ecology and evolution, conservation biology, or human-wildlife interaction, with exposure to life as a faculty member at a primarily undergraduate institution (HWS) and a research institution (SUNY-ESF).


Required qualifications:

  • PhD in ecology, evolution, wildlife biology, or a related field
  • Experience with sampling wildlife in the field
  • Strong communication skills and ability to work in a collaborative and multicultural environment
  • Driver’s license and valid passport for travel between the U.S. and Canada

Preferred qualifications:

  • A proven record of publishing research
  • Research experience in urban ecology or evolution
  • Strong quantitative skills and familiarity with hierarchical models for occupancy and abundance estimation
  • Experience with field sampling for small mammals, including live-trapping and camera trapping
  • Enthusiasm for working in urban areas and working with local officials and private landowners for access to field sites.

Start date

January-May 2021 (flexible)

Application Instructions

Review of applications will begin Monday, November 2, and continue until the position is filled. Interested applicants should submit a cover letter describing their research experience and interests and how they relate to the project, a curriculum vitae, and the names and contact information of at least three (3) professional references to our application service, Interfolio http://apply.interfolio.com/80039

Questions can be addressed to Brad Cosentino (cosentino@hws.edu)

If you have a question or need help on uploading your application materials, please contact Interfolio's support team at help@interfolio.com or call 1-877-997-8807 between the hours of 9:00 a.m. through 6 p.m., EST, Monday through Friday.



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Founded as Hobart College for men and William Smith College for women, Hobart and William Smith Colleges today are a highly selective residential liberal arts institution with a single administration, faculty and curriculum but separate dean’s offices, student governments, athletic programs and traditions.  The Colleges are located in a small diverse city in the Finger Lakes region of New York State.  With an enrollment of approximately 2,300, the Colleges offer 62 different majors and minors from which students choose two areas of concentration, one of which must be an interdisciplinary program.  Creative and extensive programs of international study and public service are also at the core of the Colleges’ mission.



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