Postdoctoral Scholar Research Associate – (Los Angeles, California, United States)

The University of Southern California (USC), founded in 1880, is located in the heart of downtown L.A. and is the largest private employer in the City of Los Angeles. As an employee of USC, you will be a part of a world-class research university and a member of the “Trojan Family,” which is comprised of the faculty, staff, and students that make the university a great place to work.  

As a community of Dornsife College “we are committed to the creation, preservation, and communication of fundamental knowledge in all its forms…as well as a lifelong passion for learning and a commitment to the betterment of society.”  The academic mission of Dornsife College can only be realized to its fullest potential when we build and protect a representative, equitable, inclusive culture of scholarship for students, faculty, and staff.  This is not done through initiatives but by embedding these values into the everyday interactions, relationships, policies, and practices of the College.  What is required is a seamless integration of the tenets of equity and inclusivity into every facet of academic life.  If we want our scholars, staff, and students to be able to give their very best, we must create an academic environment that portends success.  

Success is possible when every member of the Dornsife community owns their role as a steward of the culture in which we learn, research, and work; when we believe that it is because of who we are that we are able to do what we do: achieve excellence, together. 

Achieving a robust and inclusive academic culture requires more than just the completion of a task, but includes that person’s capacity to contribute positively to the relationships and culture of their office or department.  Therefore, any applicant seeking to advance the mission of Dornsife College should also be assessed on their capacities beyond the technical elements of their work, and demonstrate an understanding of their impact on others, and to articulate how they contribute positively to those around them.

The USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences is seeking a Postdoctoral Scholar Research Associate in the Marine and Environmental Biology Department. The largest and oldest of the USC schools, USC Dornsife functions as the academic core of the university, offering courses and advancing knowledge across the humanities, social sciences.

A postdoctoral position in conservation genomics is available in The Cnidarian Evolutionary Ecology (CEE) Lab at the University of Southern California. The successful applicant will lead analyses of whole genome sequence data from endangered Acropora cervicornis coral to assess population structure, demographic history, and associations with environmental and trait data. This project is part of an NSF-funded collaboration between USC, the Universities of South Florida and Miami, the Shedd Aquarium, and the Perry Institute for Marine science to understand how interactions between genetics and environment influence coral performance and thermal resilience providing ample opportunities for networking and career development. There will also be latitude to develop additional projects within the broader theme of this work based on the candidate’s interests.

As an employee of USC, you will be a part of a world-class research university and a member of the “Trojan Family,” which is comprised of the faculty, students and staff that make the university a great place to work. USC has a central Los Angeles location with easy access to commuter trains, buses and free tram pick up services; discounts to sporting and other campus events.

This is a full-time position, the initial appointment will be for a 6-month probationary period, after which a one-year reappointment is possible for successful and productive candidates with the potential for additional extensions, pending submission and approval of a supplemental funding request. Applications will be reviewed starting November 10, please submit your materials by this date for priority consideration. Desired start date is mid-January 2024.

The CEE Lab values inclusion and encourages applications from diverse applicants. We define diversity as people of different backgrounds, races, nationalities, genders, sexual orientations, beliefs, religions, socio-economic statuses, and more, and inclusivity as an approach where we respect, welcome, encourage, and engage diverse perspectives. Our strength and success as a research group, department, and university, is built on the foundation of a wide range of perspectives and experiences.


Research and communication (70%)

  • Evaluate population structure and demography and generate haplotype reference panel using high coverage (~50x) genomes from 37 A. cervicornis genotypes sampled from sites throughout the Caribbean
  • Analyze shallow whole genome sequencing data for an additional ~400 genotypes of A. cervicornis from throughout the Florida Keys and Dry Tortugas for population structure and environmental and thermal tolerance trait associations.
  • Generate reproducible work-flows and protocols and maintain them in publicly available repositories
  • Report results in the form of scholarly manuscripts and presentations at conferences and other research and applied forums to disseminate findings to the broader community of scientists and restoration practitioners.
  • Conduct occasional fieldwork to procure specimens and support related lab research aims as relevant/desired

Professional development: (15%)

  • Develop skills and expertise by participating in laboratory and group meetings and undertake further training as required
  • Pursue additional research opportunities consistent with ultimate career goals
  • Build positive relationships with partner organizations in order to exchange information and translate results for reef restoration applications

Mentorship and engagement (15%)

  • Supervising and training graduate and undergraduate students in population genomic analyses
  • Contribute to shared lab duties on a rotational basis

Preferred Qualifications items are essential (E) or desirable (D)

Knowledge and experience

  • PhD in relevant discipline (genomics, ecology/evolution, organismal biology or similar) (E)
  • Knowledge of population genomics (E)
  • Proven experience analyzing genomic data (E)
  • Prior experience with analysis of whole genome data (D)
  • Knowledge of coral reef ecosystems (D)

Skills and abilities

  • Experience with command-line programming and high performance computing systems (E)
  • Proficiency in one or more programming languages (D)
  • Proven ability to communicate through scholarly publications and presentations (E)
  • The ability to work independently and with minimal supervision using a systematic, orderly and responsible approach to routine duties, security, storage, and record keeping (E)
  • Able to anticipate, recognize and resolve problems at an early stage (E)
  • Excellent teamwork and good interpersonal skills (E)
  • A practical understanding and application of health and safety in the work place (E)

Personal attributes

  • Commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion (E)
  • Willingness to work flexibly to achieve lab objectives (E)
  • Commitment to own learning and professional development (E)

Salary range: The salary range for this position is $64,480 – $66,560. When extending an offer of employment, the University of Southern California considers factors such as (but not limited to) the scope and responsibilities of the position, the candidate’s work experience, education/training, key skills, internal peer equity, federal, state and local laws, contractual stipulations, grant funding, as well as external market and organizational considerations.

Performs other related duties as assigned or requested. The university reserves the right to add or change duties at any time.

Required Documents and Additional Information:

  • Please submit a CV, contact information for up to three references and a cover letter outlining your fit with the position description and desired qualifications listed above (may be uploaded as one file). Please do not submit your application without these documents.
  • Job openings are posted for a minimum of (5) five business days. This job may be removed from posting boards and filled any time after the minimum posting period has ended, so please apply on the same business day if interested.

The University of Southern California is an Equal Opportunity Employer that Values Diversity.

Minimum Education: PhD in relevant discipline (genomics, ecology/evolution, organismal biology or similar). Minimum Knowledge of population genomics
Experience analyzing genomic data, analyzing genomic data, command-line programming and high performance computing systems.

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