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Opportunity at Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL)

Postdoctoral Research In Watershed Based Ecological Epidemiology

Location

US Air Force Academy, Life Sciences Research Center

RO# Location
13.04.05.C0769 US Air Force Academy, CO 808406200

Advisers

name email phone
Odaro John Huckstep odaro.huckstep@afacademy.af.edu 719-244-4538

Description

The LSRC is an interdisciplinary research hub that leads research efforts in multiple focus areas ranging from basic science to advanced prototyping. We are seeking a highly motivated, dynamic, team-player as we expand our Center research portfolio.

The applicant for this position should hold a PhD in a biological science (biology, ecology, biochemistry, etc.) with experience in molecular methods, genomics, and metagenomics analysis, and be willing to conduct fieldwork. The candidate will conduct ecological epidemiology studies using advanced genetic monitoring techniques as quantitative indicators of pathogen/parasite/vector/reservoir presence and movements, with particular emphasis in sampling watersheds.

Intact, healthy watersheds are central to biosphere functioning, ecosystem services, and human health and wellbeing. Land degradation and water scarcity are closely linked. Globally, ecological degradation and climate change have impacted watersheds, escalating societal stressors and the potential for conflict. Of special interest is how water-mediated movement of humans may influence patterns of emerging infectious diseases. To examine the relationship between ecosystem degradation-human migration-and emerging diseases, research questions may include topics such as: (1) how does water scarcity impact patterns of human migration and disease transmission routes; (2) has habitat degradation and migration resulted in range expansions of pathogens; (3) is there a link between biodiversity and the dilution of pathogens at the metacommunity scale; (4) have novel species interactions along migration routes influenced the potential for spillover/spillback events? Specific research questions will be determined by candidate’s skills and interests.  With support from the Biology Department’s senior ecologist and LSRC leadership, the candidate is expected to develop a research and publication plan for investigations.

In addition to core watershed research, the candidate is expected to maintain a level of engagement with USAFA Wastewater Based Epidemiology (WWBE) based research projects (~15% time).  Wastewater Based Epidemiology is a powerful surveillance and investigation tool for numerous aspects of public health including tracking infectious diseases such as COVID-19, as well as a wide range or organismal and biomarker signals.  USAFA has been tracking SARS-COV2 levels for over a year, and is expanding investigations to identify other wastewater markers relevant to military health and readiness. The candidate will also receive guidance and support in developing their own teaching and mentorship skills through structured professional development and hands-on experience (~15% time) by assisting USAFA cadets engaged in research projects.

All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment and will not be discriminated against on the basis of gender, race/ethnicity, protected veteran status, disability, or other protected group status. Only US citizens are eligible. 

References:

Ibáñez, A.M., Rozo, S.V. and Urbina, M.J., 2021. Forced migration and the spread of infectious diseases. J. Health Econ 79:102491.

McFee R.B. 2018. Emerging infectious diseases - overview. Dis Mon 64:163-169. 

Vignier N., and Bouchaud O. 2018. Travel, migration, and emerging infectious diseases. EJIFCC 29:175-179. 

Keywords:
water; watershed; surface water; wastewater; epidemiology; genomics; biodiversity; ecosystem; eDNA; ecology; human migration

Eligibility

Citizenship:  Open to U.S. citizens
Level:  Open to Postdoctoral and Senior applicants

Stipend

Base Stipend Travel Allotment Supplementation
$76,542.00 $4,000.00

$3,000 Supplement for Doctorates in Engineering & Computer Science

Experience Supplement:
Postdoctoral and Senior Associates will receive an appropriately higher stipend based on the number of years of experience past their PhD.

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