Recruiting Postdoctoral Researcher

Post-Doctoral Researcher in Symbiosis Evolution and Ecology   

A two-year postdoctoral research position is available at Eastern Washington University as part of a $1.4 million NSF-funded collaborative project with The New York Botanical Garden titled “Integrating Digitization, Exploration, Genomics, and Student Training to Illuminate Forces Shaping Appalachian Lichen Distributions.” The project will examine how intrinsic biological characteristics and extrinsic environmental conditions shape species distributions using lichen symbioses in the Appalachian Mountains as the study system. The project will involve assembly of new resources for lichen biodiversity through integration of existing biodiversity datasets with new data from extensive fieldwork and laboratory study of reproductive traits. Comparative population genomics of species with contrasting distribution sizes will yield previously unparalleled datasets for symbiont specificity, gene flow, and adaptation.

The postdoctoral researcher will be primarily responsible for leading and conducting multiple large-scale analyses and publishing the results. Specifically, they will develop and complete the comparative, multi-symbiont population genomics analyses and final integrative modeling of the full dataset. Past experience analyzing large-scale landscape, genomic, or ecological datasets is essential. No prior experience working with lichens is required. Additional aspects of the position can be negotiated to match the postdoctoral researcher’s career goals and interests (e.g., include field work, undergraduate and graduate student mentoring, teaching, and public outreach). This position includes funding for travel to two conferences, workshops, or other networking and training opportunities each year.

The ideal candidate for this position will take advantage of the opportunity to gain substantial experiences integrating research with undergraduate education. EWU is a regional comprehensive university and the 20 faculty members in the Biology Department excel in undergraduate research and education. The Biology Department also hosts a Master’s of Science program that enrolls 25 students. EWU is located in Cheney, Washington, 16 miles south of Spokane, WA, which was recently recognized as one of the up-and-coming small cities in the USA. Situated at the edge of the Rocky Mountains, a few hours’ drive from the Cascade Mountains, and multiple large lakes and rivers, the area has a great deal to offer outdoor recreation enthusiasts. There are multiple other universities and research institutes in the area with which EWU faculty maintain active collaborations, including Washington State University, The University of Idaho, Gonzaga University, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratories.

The candidate will be co-mentored by James Lendemer at The New York Botanical Garden, and will work collaboratively on site with the team in New York City for a portion of their time in this position.

Requirements:

  1. PhD at time of hire in Bioinformatics, Evolutionary Biology, Ecology or related fields,
  2. Demonstrated expertise in landscape analysis, genomics, bioinformatics, and/or population genetics,
  3. Programming experience in one or more scripting languages such as R or python,
  4. Record of leading first-author publications,
  5. Excellent communication and collaboration skills.

Preferred qualifications:

  1. Ability to analyze population genomics datasets,
  2. Experience in student mentoring and undergraduate teaching,
  3. Record of engagement with public outreach and science communication.

Salary: $53,000/year with a full benefits package and a cost-of-living raise in the second year.

Start Date: Negotiable, Fall 2022 preferred

Contact: Jessica Allen with your CV and statement of interest at jallen73@ewu.edu

NSF Award Summary: https://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=2115191&HistoricalAwards=false

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Urban Lichens Field Guide Available for Pre-Order

Our book with all of information you need to start an urban lichen adventure in Northeastern North America is available for pre-order from Yale University Press! The release date is set for October 19, 2021.

We have a number of speaking engagements already schedule for this book in the fall. The dates are as follows, and I will add more details soon:

October 12th: Torrey Botanical Society

November 12th: The New York Botanical Garden

November 30th: NYC Botanical Illustrators

NSF Grant Awarded

We were recently awarded an NSF grant in collaboration with James Lendemer at The New York Botanical Garden to investigate the HOW and WHY of species distributions in Central Appalachian lichens.

I will be recruiting a post-doctoral researcher and Master’s student begin fall 2022. Both positions will develop population/comparative/landscape genomics projects focused on symbiotic fungi. The project will involve analyzing large-scale genomic, population genomic, and environmental datasets.

To learn more about the project reach out via email at jallen73[at]ewu.edu

NSF Award Page

Lab up and running at EWU

Located in Cheney, WA, Eastern Washington University sits in the midst of multiple distinct regions, including the Channeled Scablands, Palouse Prairie, and Selkirk Mountains, and just a short drive from the Great Basin desert, Cascade Mountains, and Rocky Mountains. From here we can access and study a wealth of lichen diversity. Stay tuned for more research news from the lab as our projects progress.

 

The Tuckerman Workshop 2018

Do you ever miss going to summer camp? Doing fun outdoor activities, lively mealtime shenanigans, and sleepovers every night. As a kid I loved summer camp. My favorites were the camps that I went back to multiple years in a row and saw friends I made the previous summers. Camp Roganunda, Jazz Camp, and Happy Horse Riding School…those were the days.

As an adult I’ve been lucky enough to find the closest thing to a lichen-themed summer camp possible. It’s called the Tuckerman Workshop and has been held annually for nearly 30 years in various locations throughout eastern North America. Lichen enthusiasts gather for four days to go into the field and collect the local lichens (the ‘outdoor activity’ part of summer camp). We then spend the other half of the time working at our microscopes to identify these myriad species (this could be categorized as arts & crafts, or science experiments).

This year’s Tuckerman Workshop was held in western Pennsylvania at the Barn at Fallingwater, owned by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, nestled in Ohiopyle State Park. Thirty lichen enthusiasts attended (only a few of which were moss enthusiast interlopers). We spent three days collecting in and close to the state park, and one day we ventured all the way to Maryland.

Tuckerman Workshop 2018_Participants_PA.jpg

This year’s lichen enthusiast crew (Photo Credit: Troy McMullin)

This was the sixth Tuckerman Workshop that I’ve attended, and, as always, it’s a delightful mix of exploring a new place, and socializing. It is so wonderful to spend the week reconnecting with people that I only see once a year, and to meet new people who are diving into the world of lichenology.

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A View from Above: Lichenologists searching rock outcrops in Maryland for interesting species

My favorite fungal find this year wasn’t actually a lichen fungus, but a tiny fungus growing on a liverwort. The dark turquoise fruiting bodies (apothecia), though tiny, caught my as they contrasted so strongly with the jewel-bright green of the liverwort. I wasn’t convinced it was a fungus at first. Whenever I come to the point of questioning whether or not some dot or blob I’m looking at is a fungus my first instinct is to look for spores. Spores are so diverse in size, shape, color, and texture that if you can find them you will almost certainly be able to figure out what fungus you’re looking at. In this case I found spores, and the turquoise specks turned out to be Mniaecia jungermanniae (common name still TBD).

A Few Fungi: Mniaecia jungermanniae on the left and Dibaeis baeomyces on the right

The Tuckerman Workshop serve a further purpose beyond fun field adventures. It was started by Richard Harris to strengthen and educate a community of lichen experts, which it accomplishes quite admirably. The efforts of this community during workshops generates impressive quantities of data. We humans don’t yet have any idea of how many other species we share this planet with, and for the species we have recognized we generally have a poor idea of where all they can be found. During these workshops many new species have been discovered, and newly found sites of already known species are reported (see examples here and here).

‘Science is fun’ has become a bit of a cliché in some circles, but in the case of the Tuckerman Workshop it really does apply.

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Take from a Fire Tower: Central Appalachians on a Spring Day