Harmful algal blooms effects on fisheries and people in Lake Victoria Interested candidates should reach out asap.

Graduate Field Application deadline: December 1, 2020

The Fiorella and McIntyre research groups at Cornell University are seeking two graduate students to join a new NSF-funded study of how harmful algal blooms affect fisheries from human, fish, and ecosystem perspectives. Our interdisciplinary study seeks to merge human health outcomes, the behavior of fishers and fish consumers, food web structure, and algal bloom dynamics in space and time.

Harmful algal blooms are arising in ever more places, and their spatial extent, duration, and intensity are on the rise within many ecosystems. Understanding their dynamics and consequences represents an important need in global change research, including the development of theory to improve management of social-ecological systems. Students will engage closely with a range of Kenyan and American research partners, gaining exposure to diverse approaches and methodologies. The structure of this interdisciplinary project creates two parallel opportunities:

Ecological System Specialization: One student will specialize in the ecological system, including: sampling the diverse fishes harvested in Lake Victoria; analyzing food web relationships using stable isotopes and fatty acids; conducting spatial analysis of harmful algal bloom extent and correlates; and contributing to integration across project elements.

Human System Specialization: One student will specialize on the human system, including: developing and implementing a household survey; analyzing effects of harmful algal blooms on livelihood, food and nutrition security; quantifying household health risks and risk mitigation; and contributing to integration across project elements.

Ideal candidates will have experience and interest in environmental science/studies, ecology, public health, economics, and/or sociology, as well as interest(s) in fisheries, global environmental change, nutrition, food security, and toxicology. Candidates should look forward to learning cutting-edge methodologies in the ecological and/or human systems domains, and be comfortable with international travel. Given the interdisciplinary nature of the project, excellent communication (oral and written) skills are a high priority. Students will gain experience in collaborative research that spans conceptual and methodological boundaries. We are looking for team members who will thrive working closely with Cornell PIs, Kenyan project partners, and other researchers.

The desired start-date is Fall 2021, with applicants applying to our PhD program by the 1 December 2020 deadline. East African candidates are especially encouraged to apply. A competitive stipend and benefits package will be provided, involving support from a mixture of teaching and research assistantships. Residence in Ithaca, NY is expected, but regular and prolonged travel to Kisumu, Kenya will be necessary for field work (while fully adhering to COVID-related advisories and requirements). PhD students will be welcomed into Cornell’s vibrant community of scholars in the graduate fields of Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, or Biomedical and Biological Sciences.

We welcome all inquiries and questions about these opportunities prior to formally applying. Interested candidates should submit a brief letter of interest, a resume/CV, and a writing sample as soon as possible. These materials should be sent to both Katie (kf326@cornell.edu) and Pete (pbm3@cornell.edu), using the subject line “HABs PhD Positions”. Screening of candidates will proceed immediately, and will continue until the position is filled. We will encourage strong candidates to proceed with formally applying to one or more of the graduate fields mentioned above, adhering to the 1 December 2020 application deadline.

Our group has a range of on-going research projects, and inquiries about available opportunities are always welcome!

Undergraduate Students

Undergraduate students working with me have previously contributed to projects around Lake Victoria, Kenya, conducted global analyses, and lead literature reviews. They have given conference presentations and lead peer-reviewed publications resulting from their work. I have high standards for all members of the group — and in return work to provide you with support to develop your research skills and career.

Masters and Veterinary Students

Masters of public health, natural resources, and veterinary students have previously contributed to research in Kenya and Cambodia, as well as global analyses. Opportunities are available for masters students to conduct their thesis research with me, as well as for MPH practicums and veterinary research semesters. Masters and veterinary students may also have the opportunity to contribute to research in the field in Kenya or Cambodia. In evaluating whether our work may align, I look for students who are independent thinkers and problem solvers, who have an interest in field work and/or data analysis, and are committed to addressing the linked problems of limited environmental resource access and poor health.

Doctoral Students

Please contact me about current opportunities. Multiple, on-going projects in the group provide opportunities for graduate students to contribute to current activities while developing their own research. Further, there are opportunities for students from a range of disciplinary perspectives, including public health, environmental science / natural resources, and social sciences, in my group. Students at Cornell are supported by a combination of Research Assistantships and Teaching Assistantships, and are highly encouraged to apply for an NSF GRFP. In evaluating whether our work may align, I look for students who are independent thinkers and problem solvers, who have strong quantitative skills, who are interested in integrating human and natural systems, and who are committed to addressing the linked problems of limited environmental resource access and poor health. As a mentor, I strive to provide students with a balance of opportunities to pursue their interests and manage their own research projects, and guidance, support, and availability as they take on that endeavor.

Postdoctoral Researchers

I welcome inquiries from potential postdocs. In addition to opportunities supported by current grants, Cornell offers excellent postdoctoral opportunities to which I would be happy to discuss supporting your application: Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future Postdoctoral Fellowships and NatureNet Science Fellowships. In addition, SESYNC Postdoctoral Fellowships and Smith Fellowships offer additional avenues to fund work together.