Current postdoctoral opportunities

Information for prospective graduate students

Information for undergraduate students

Information for high school students

Current Postdoctoral Opportunities

Postdoctoral Researcher in Statistical Ecology / Spatial Distribution Modeling of Microbiomes

Bill Fagan's ecology lab at the University of Maryland in College Park, MD, has a new opening for a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Statistical Ecology / Spatial Distribution Modeling of Microbiomes. This dynamic lab group, which currently includes one associate research scientist, seven postdocs, four graduate students, and numerous undergraduates, is pursuing a wide variety of research projects in ecology. Much of this work is explicitly spatial in nature, drawing upon GIS, mathematical modeling, and statistical analyses. For examples, see

This advertisement is for a postdoctoral position on a DoD / MURI-funded project in collaboration with Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and Duke University. The project focuses on the analysis of the human skin microbiome, with a particular emphasis on developing multi-scale models for understanding and predicting spatial variation in microbiome composition. The candidate should have expertise in species distribution modeling and/or the statistical analysis of spatially structured presence/absence and abundance data. In addition, very strong computational skills with knowledge in various programming languages (e.g., R, Python, Matlab) are required. Experience in microbial ecology and familiarity with sequencing data are highly desirable. Experience working with large datasets and/or hierarchical spatial models would be particularly helpful.

The successful candidate will have a PhD at the time of appointment, likely in quantitative ecology, microbial ecology, statistics, or a related field. Prior postdoctoral experience is beneficial, but not required.

The initial appointment will be for one year, but funding is already in place for up to two additional years pending good performance. Efforts to secure substantial long-term support via collaborative grant proposals would be encouraged and, when successful, could lead to appointment at the level of assistant/associate research scientist. Benefits are included and pay will be commensurate with experience. The start date is negotiable, but could be as early as March 2018.

Review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position has been filled. To apply for the position, please email a CV, reprints, and the names and email addresses of three references to:

Bill Fagan
Professor and Chair
Department of Biology
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742

General opportunities for prospective graduate students

Openings for graduate students are available in the areas of 1) Spatial Ecology and 2) Eco-informatics.
In many cases I would be able to provide RA support, though my students have been unusually successful in obtaining their own stipend and research support through NASA and NSF Graduate Fellowships, NSF Dissertation Improvement Grants, and other sources. I consider PhD applicants through the BISI [Biological Sciences] graduate program, including both the BEES [Behavior, Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics] and CBBG [Computational Biology, Bioinformatics, and Genomics] concentration areas, as well as through the MEES [Marine, Estuarine, and Environmental Sciences] graduate program. In addition I would be eager to advise both Masters and PhD students applying through the AMSC (Applied Mathematics and Scientific Computing) graduate program.

To date, I have enjoyed working with botanists, entomologists, mammalogists, ornithologists, herpetologists, physicists, and mathematicians, among others, so I would welcome into my lab students asking a wide range of interesting questions in a variety of systems. In general, I insist that my students develop some familiarity with modeling or quantitative techniques and consider, as a part of their research, some potentially applied problem.

Priority areas for the coming year include students with skills in mathematics, GIS, and computational approaches, particularly those with interests in animal movement, extinction risk, biogeography, and macroevolutionary modeling.

Opportunities for undergraduate students

The Fagan lab regularly recruits undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds to work on research projects. Depending on student skills and project needs, undergraduates may work as research assistants or as independent undergraduate researchers, and may be mentored by graduate students, postdocs, or Dr. Fagan himself. When undergraduate students are sufficiently motivated, these research opportunities have routinely resulted in coauthored publications.

The lab is currently recruiting undergraduates who are majoring in such fields as computer science, mathematics, geography, environmental science and policy, and biology. We are particularly interested in students with computer programming skills (R, Java, C++, GIS, Matlab, Mathematica, etc.) plus students with extensive experience working with databases and spreadsheets.

Undergraduate students working on research projects in my lab routinely work for course credit, either as special topics credits, internships through the ENSP program, Honors Degrees, and other mechanisms.

In addition, for some research topics, funding is available for talented, motivated students who can devote significant amounts of time to research projects in the lab.

Opportunities for high school students

In recent years, the Fagan lab has mentored several high school students from nearby counties, including summer internships for students enrolled the magnet programs at Montgomery Blair, Poolesville, Eleanor Roosevelt, etc. Please contact Dr. Fagan directly if you are interested in such opportunities.

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