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Position Details

Academic Personnel

Postdoctoral Scholar: Environmental DNA for quantitative applications - marine conservation & fisheries science.

Position Overview

School / Campus / College: College of the Environment

Organization: Marine and Environmental Affairs

Title: Postdoctoral Scholar: Environmental DNA for quantitative applications - marine conservation & fisheries science.

Position Details

Position Description

Researchers at the University of Washington and collaborators at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NWFSC) in Seattle seek a post-doctoral researcher to help with the development and/or application of statistical methods for using eDNA data for quantitative conservation and fisheries applications. The PIs have access to a large number of eDNA samples collected from nearshore open ocean habitats along the US west that are relevant to a wide range of both fish and marine mammal species and are seeking researchers interested in using these samples to understand the distribution and abundance of marine resources.


Past research has focused on applying eDNA data to inform management-relevant questions. Examples include, estimating abundance of salmon and Pacific hake from eDNA using qPCR approaches (e.g. Shelton et al. 2019, 2022a), the structure of nearshore marine communities from metabarcoding (e.g. O’Donnell et al. 2017, Kelly et al. 2017), and advancing the development of eDNA metabarcoding methods for ecological assessment (Kelly et al. 2019, Shelton et al. 2023). We are interested in researchers that have an interest in extending or expanding any of these projects or develop new areas of potential application with eDNA data. Particular areas of interest are: 1) developing projects are around using eDNA to understand trophic relationships (e.g. distribution and abundance of predators and prey such as hake and krill or whales and forage fish); 2) using eDNA to understand the composition and distribution of bycatch in the ocean; 3) the development of statistical methods to combine information from eDNA with more traditional survey data (e.g. net-based or acoustic surveys).


This position is primarily focused on modeling and analysis, not the generation of new eDNA data. We encourage researchers with quantitative background in ecology, fisheries, environmental DNA, or conservation biology to apply. We expect candidates to contribute to our team through the collaboration and consultation with other researchers during the production of eDNA data. No prior experience with eDNA data is required, though basic familiarity with the practical aspects of eDNA data production would be helpful.


The post-doc will be supervised by Dr. Ryan Kelly (University of Washington) and will primarily collaborate with Dr. A. Ole Shelton (NWFSC, NOAA) and Dr. Krista Nichols (NWFSC, NOAA). The position is open until filled with a negotiable start date. Funding is initially for one year but extendable to a second year. The annual salary range for this position will be $65,508 to $75,000, commensurate with experience and qualifications, or as mandated by a U.S. Department of Labor prevailing wage determination.


Please contact or for more information about this position.


Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, but apply by May 5, 2023, to receive full consideration. The position will start as soon as possible, but no later than September 15, 2023.


Postdoctoral scholars are represented by UAW 4121 and are subject to the collective bargaining agreement, unless agreed exclusion criteria apply. For more information, please visit the University of Washington Labor Relations website.


earned Ph.D. in Ecology, Fisheries Science, Quantitative Ecology, Applied Statistics or a related field; and proficiency in the R programming language; Excellent organizational skills, the ability to work independently, demonstrated foresight and good judgment, the ability to carry out routine troubleshooting. Effective written and oral communication skills as demonstrated through experience communicating with varied audiences in different settings and in different ways (e.g., presenting at events, email correspondence, one-on-one in-person, etc.) are also required.


knowledge of, or experience with: the Stan probabilistic programming language, GitHub for project collaboration, using Markdown or other software to support reproducible workflows.


References cited:

Kelly, R.P., C.J. Closek, J.L. O'Donnell, J.E. Kralj, A.O. Shelton, J.F. Samhouri. 2017. Genetic and manual survey methods yield different and complementary views of an ecosystem. Frontiers in Marine Science. 3:283

Kelly, R.P. A.O. Shelton, R. Gallego. 2019 Understanding PCR processes to draw meaningful conclusions from environmental DNA studies. Scientific Reports 9:12133

O'Donnell J.L., R.P. Kelly, A.O. Shelton, J.F. Samhouri, N.C. Lowell, and G.D. Williams. 2017. Spatial distribution of environmental DNA in a nearshore marine habitat. PeerJ 5,e3044

Shelton, A.O., R.P Kelly, J.L. O'Donnell, L. Park, P. Schwenke, C. Greene, E. Beamer, R. Henderson. 2019. Environmental DNA provides quantitative estimates of a threatened salmon species. Biological Conservation 237:838-391.

Shelton, A.O.,  A. Ramón-Laca, A. Wells, J. Clemons, D. Chu, B.E. Feist, R.P. Kelly, S.L. Parker-Stetter, R. Thomas, K. Nichols, L. Park. 2022. Environmental DNA provides quantitative estimates of abundance and distribution in the open ocean. Proceeding of the Royal Society B 289: 20212613

Shelton, A.O., Z. Gold, A.J. Jensen, E. D’Agnese, E.A. Allan, A. Van Cise, R. Gallego, Ana Ramón-Laca, M. Garber-Yonts, K. Parsons, R.P. Kelly. 2023. Toward Quantitative Metabarcoding. Ecology 104:e3906



All applications should be submitted through Interfolio. To apply for this position, please include the following in your application:

1) A letter of interest and how your experiences meet the qualifications

2) A curriculum vitae

3) At least one peer-reviewed publication, and

4) The names and contact information of three references.

Please contact or for more information about this position.

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University of Washington is an affirmative action and equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, pregnancy, genetic information, gender identity or expression, age, disability, or protected veteran status.

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